As a concept, backups are fairly straightforward: they’re multiple versions of the same thing so that if one version gets destroyed or compromised, there’s still an undamaged version. In IT, this idea is referred to as redundancy, and it’s best practice for pretty much any system or data set for one main reason: It’s better to be safe than sorry.
These days, cybersecurity statistics bear witness to the fact that safety is a real concern. Hackers are attacking more frequently than ever, and the unfortunate truth is that most organizations aren’t well prepared – which leaves them, all-too-often, sorry. At a less catastrophic (and probably more common) level, there’s user error to consider, too; if accidentally deleted files weren’t backed up, they’re gone forever.
A serious St. Louis IT support plan should involve backing up systems to reduce risks.
If you don’t have a backup plan in place, here’s why you should implement one – and an outline of how it should work.
Why should you back up your St. Louis organization’s systems?
At a high-level, as we’ve noted, the answer to this question is to protect your organization. But this can be broken down more granularly into a few main benefits.
1. Backups help to avoid data losses.
This is the basic function of backups; when systems are compromised, you can revert to backups and avoid losing valuable data.
Data can be lost in a number of scenarios. Hacks can corrupt data, making it inaccessible or unusable. Ransomware, for example, freezes systems and demands ransom for a key to unlock them. While good network hardening tactics can reduce the likelihood of a hack occurring, backups can ensure that if a hack does occur, data won’t be lost.
Hacks aren’t the only cause of lost data, though. Natural disasters can also wipe out on-premise data. If there’s a fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, or some natural catastrophe and your systems are destroyed, having backups off of your premises can ensure that your data is still available.
2. Backups can minimize downtime.
Additionally, backups can minimize the amount of time your systems are down and allow your employees to get back to your mission more quickly.
While there are a number of estimates as to the true cost of downtime (with most studies concluding that each hour costs thousands of dollars), there’s no denying the fact that it’s expensive. St. Louis companies that have outages can’t drive revenue while systems are down, obviously. They may even suffer reputational damages.
3. Backups can benefit your reputation.
This benefit is a bit less tangible, but it’s still valuable. Any organization that mismanages data is at risk of damaging its reputation. Reputations are valuable assets for St. Louis organizations; in the court of public opinion, if you aren’t trustworthy with data, your operations may not be trustworthy, either.
Maintaining good backups ensures that your organization’s data is more secure – which is a step toward maintaining your reputation and protecting your funding so that you can pursue your goals.
How should you back up your St. Louis organization’s systems?
With the importance of backups clarified, let’s take a look at how St. Louis organizations should implement effective backup processes.
1. Backups should be automated.
Automation means that backups happen on a pre-scheduled basis with no manual intervention needed. Obviously, if backups happen daily or more often, the process should be automated. You can’t expect to manually manage (or have someone else manage) the process every time it’s carried out. Automating will make it consistent and give you peace of mind.
2. Backups should be made frequently.
First, backups should be made often. You can’t afford to only back up your systems once a week; too much changes in the interim. Best practice is to have backups created on a daily basis, at least – and we generally recommend having the process working even more often, if possible.
3. The backup process should be monitored.
Speaking of peace of mind: The backup process should be monitored. This should involve automated monitoring and manual monitoring.
Automated monitoring will be done by programs that review data against system benchmarks. If there are significant changes, the systems will send out alerts.
Manual monitoring can be done less frequently, but it’s best practice to ensure that backups are being completed successfully. Manual inspection may uncover errors that the automated monitoring missed.
4. Backups should exist in multiple locations.
Ideally, your St. Louis organization should have multiple instances of backups so that your systems have multiple redundancies. If your backups are only stored on-site and there’s a natural disaster, you will lose all of your data. At least one of these instances should be stored off-premise in the cloud.
5. Backups should be easily retrievable.
Your backups should be easily retrievable (and easy to implement). If they aren’t, you’ll face greater amounts of downtime and higher costs to recovery when you need to access them.
Your organization should periodically test backup recovery to ensure that you can quickly revert if you do face a cybersecurity incident.
Looking for help with managed backups or business continuity solutions?
Backups are important. Make sure that your St. Louis organization is backing up your systems and data according to these guidelines, and you’ll go a long way toward reducing your cybersecurity risk.
And if you need help implementing backup processes, get in touch with us.
At ATB Technologies, we provide IT support for St. Louis businesses across a variety of industries. We take an intelligent approach to backups to keep your business protected. If you’re ready for peace of mind, get in touch with us today.