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What are data backups and why are they important?

Losing critical data can be devastating for a company. How can you make sure that your organisation’s data is secure, how should you set a solid backup strategy, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of storing your data on cloud servers versus on-premise servers?

Man sitting in a sofa looking at his computer

Have you ever experienced losing all content on your hard drive or mobile device, just to find out you had no backup? Losing data is no fun, and for organisations and companies, it can be devastating. 

Visit our cyber security page to learn more about what cyber security is, why it’s important, and what you can do to keep your company’s data secure from vicious attacks. 

What are data backups?

Data backups are the process of copying files and information to secure them in case of unforeseen events such as natural disasters, malicious hacking, data corruption, user errors, software/hardware malfunctions, or other unplanned downtimes. 

Data backups should ideally be stored in a secondary location. It’s also critical that your organisation have a successful disaster recovery plan to have a good system in place for backing up your company’s files and information.

Why is it important to backup your servers?

Today, data can be considered one of the most vital assets a company possesses, and thus it’s important to have a backup and recovery plan put in place. 

A recovery plan aims to prepare for different scenarios and to verify that the backed up data can still function if re-installed. The loss of those assets can have consequences such as locking out all employees from their computers, system downtime, or the loss of some or all client data. 

The consequence of not having a good back up plan can lead to disruption in the form of huge financial loss and damage to your reputation and brand. It will also lead to large expenses for recovering and rebuilding the missing data if that is even possible. Sometimes data is lost forever if not backed up properly.

When setting a backup strategy, a good rule of thumb is to follow what is known as the 3-2-1 backup strategy, which is recommended by the government of the United States.

This is a strategy describing an approach to keep your data as secure as possible by having at least three total copies of it, two backups on different local mediums, and one copy located in a remote location.

Different methods and technologies for backing up your data

Backups can be stored on hard disk drives locally or in another physical location, or remotely in cloud storage. According to best practices, companies should at least perform a full backup once a week outside of work hours, as well as scheduling additional backups whenever necessary. 

This data should be quickly and easily retrievable to avoid too much disruption in a case of emergency. The most important thing is that the backups are kept consistent so that your company don’t end up losing large gaps of data.

No matter how many security measures your organisation has in place, you also need to have a recovery plan in place for worst-case scenarios as part of the overall security. Why? 

One of the reasons is that we have seen an increase in the number of ransomware attacks in the last few years, which has made it even more crucial to have a good backup strategy. Otherwise, you risk losing all your data in this type of cyber attack.

What is a ransomware attack?

A ransomware attack is when cyber criminals are using malware to encrypt a victim’s data from within their network, keeping them hostage and demanding a ransom for the company to decrypt their data. 

The fees to get your data back can vary but can ultimately lead to a company’s demise if they cannot afford the ransom and do not have a good backup strategy and recovery plan in place. 

There are different ways that this malware can get access to computers. Usually, it’s through security holes or phishing attempts. It can also be through other social engineering methods luring employees to download and open the malware, thus gaining access to the company’s network. 

When a company is a victim of such an attack, there’s no way to regain access to the data held hostage since it is encrypted and the only real solution to the problem is to have a recent backup to retrieve.

Learn more about cyber security threats here

What is the most secure way to store data: Cloud or on-premise?

First, the difference between the cloud and on-premise is where you choose to store your company’s data. Storing the data in an on-premise solution, means you have your own servers and IT infrastructure onsite. It also means that you, or a chosen third party, is responsible for doing the maintenance and updates. 

In the cloud, those servers will be hosted by a cloud provider that offers different services such as paid security, monitoring of the system, and so on. Your organisation can also manage this yourself. 

But what are the advantages and disadvantages of these two solutions?

Cloud servers versus on-premise servers

Cloud providers often offer an easy backup solution and they’re hosting your backed up data for you on a different server, which is not the case with on-premise servers. 

On-premise servers need more careful backup and recovery plans from the company itself as your organisation are fully responsible for these servers unless you have outsourced them to a third party. 

A mistake that is often made in on-premise servers, by the organisation itself, is that the backup data is hosted on the same network as the actual data. This creates a risk that both the original data and the backup is corrupted in the case of a ransomware attack. 

That being said, choosing cloud providers is not entirely without risks either, and you’re placing the physical responsibility in someone else’s hands. If anything happens to your cloud provider your organisation will be affected too.

In the past, cloud providers have been hacked but have also faced natural disasters and accidents leading to the loss of their client’s data. This illustrates the importance of having thought through your backup and recovery plan, deciding the frequency and locations of your backups. 

However, the benefits of using a good and trusted cloud provider often outweigh the risks related to, for example, encrypted backups, natural disasters, and other events that could cause data loss.

Interested in learning more about what cyber security is, and why it is important?

Visit our cyber security page

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