A Good Backup Strategy
Backing up data sounds like a schlep when everything is smooth sailing, but if you’re in a pinch and lose your data to a malware attack or hard drive crash, you’ll be scrambling for a copy of what you lost. It’s best to keep those copies handy, even if they take some extra time to get the process going initially. We don’t often get the chance at a do-over, but we have the option readily available with our data. It’s only wise to make use of it.
- The 3-2-1 backup strategy
- Why the 3-2-1?
- What is a backup?
- Why should you backup your information?
- So how should I backup?
- Backup systems
- Data loss window
The 3-2-1 backup strategy
The best backup strategy is known as the 3-2-1 strategy. What this means is that you must always have at least 3 copies of your data, 2 of which are local, but on different devices (i.e your computer + a USB hard-drive) and at least 1 copy offsite (i.e. Cloud backup). We’ve introduced some great new backup solutions for all our clients. Check out our Acronis cloud backups.
Why the 3-2-1?
Having a spare copy onsite makes for an easy and quick recovery in case you accidentally delete the data or the device/computer fails totally. In case of a larger disaster (i.e. fire, total theft of all assets, flood) the offsite backup can come to the rescue. How backups are made and your backup-over-time strategy as well as your type of backups are the other part of a good backup strategy.
What is a backup?
The simplest definition of a computer backup is an exact copy. In the case of computer files, we are referring to copies of the original files that you have on your laptop, desktop, or external drive. A clone is a complete copy of your computer/server’s primary hard drive and can be used to recreate the original machine. The downside of a bootable clone is that it takes long to create and can take long to restore, especially if it is stored offsite.
Why should you backup your information?
Laptops and desktops have decreased in cost, and the amount of storage inside them has increased greatly over the last few years. Unfortunately, having all of your data in only one place is risky business as a complete wipe or malware infection is only a few clicks away.
There’re many different ways to backup your computers, and using multiple forms of backup will minimise the risk of ever losing your valuable files. Lost data can cause financial loss due to lost business and potentially, damage to your reputation due to loss of trust. Keeping backups and having a good backup strategy is part of disaster recovery and a key part of due-diligence. All businesses are expected to adhere to certain standards when it comes to data safety and integrity. If you don’t you’re playing it fast and loose with customer trust which can be incredibly hard to win back if it’s ever lost
So how should I backup?
- The best backup strategy is a combined backup strategy, using the 3-2-1 as a basis. Ensure that you’ve got a cloned backup of your server in its initial state. Do this just after you’ve set it up. This will make it easy to restore all that hard-to-install software, settings, or custom software.
- Combine this with a weekly Full Backup of databases and files – now you have the content of your system. Ideally, partition your drive into:
- Operating System / Software Partition
- Data Partition
- Lastly, make daily Incremental backups – this is a backup of only the data or files that have changed. This is usually a fast backup as it contains a lot less data than a full backup.
Ensure that the backup system uses a backup agent. This separates the backups from your hard drive and makes it harder for ransomware and malware to infect your data. A network share is NOT a safe place for your data. Data synchronisation (i.e. Dropbox, etc) is also NOT a backup. RAID (using multiple hard disks to protect against hard drive failure) is also NOT a backup.
Backups also have to be planned as far as retention is concerned.
Look at this example of a backup structure:
- Archive of FULL IMAGE of server – never overwritten once created. This can be renewed every 1/3/6 or 12 months – that’s up to you.
- Full file backup – at least 1 monthly, but preferably 1 weekly full file backup. Keep at least 2 Monthly or 3 – 4 weekly full file backups.
- Incremental file backup – keep at least 5 – 7 daily so that you can easily step back to the last good copy if you need to.
Data loss window
This is the amount of data you are willing to lose. This is measured as the data that has changed or been generated between your last backup and the present moment. If you have plenty of sales happening daily on your website the data loss window for your website may be a lot smaller than say, a blog with less than 100 visitors each month.
Check out our blog post on why you should always have backups.
How much data can you afford to lose?