A Backup Disaster Recovery Plan is more than just a backup, it is a strategic plan you implement in your business to assist you in recovering from a disaster. Part one was about the importance of putting together a disaster planning document and how planning helps to reduce recovery time. Part two looked at identifying data that is at risk in the business and how that risk was dependent on how your business operates. This part, part three, is about the options available for backing up data and at the end you will have an understanding of the benefits and limitations of each type of backup.
Protection against all threats
Backups should address all threats to your business critical data and so before jumping into strategies available it is worth considering the threats themselves.
For many years threats were primarily associated with loss of data from physical equipment. Fire, theft, flood and of course hardware failure were the primary reason you would want to protect data. However, with increasing cyber crime the risk to data should also now include encryption of that data – a threat which can be more complex to plan for. Finally, backups should also protect your business from the internal threat, that member of staff that deletes important information either accidentally or maliciously (oh yes, that does happen)
However, the original threats have not reduced and so a backup strategy needs to consider all threats.
In a world of cloud-based storage, onsite backups are often considered old fashioned, but they do have their place as part of a backup strategy.
On-site backups used to be the only way to backup data and tape streamers was the medium used as they were easy to remove from site. But they were relatively slow and very prone to damage and so hard drives or network attached storage is often now used for onsite backup.
Advantages of onsite backup
Many businesses I speak with underestimate the recovery time and ultimately the cost of downtime. Recovery of a couple of files or an email is always going to be a relatively quick process no matter where they are stored. However, an onsite backup is often much faster to restore than downloading a very large cloud-based backup.
Given the cost of hard drives and NAS units the actual cost of onsite data backup is relatively cheap and the initial cost of the equipment will be paid for within a few months compared to cloud-based storage.
Disadvantages of onsite backups
Onsite backups might be faster to recover but that is not much use if they are in the same fire, flood or theft. As a result, manual rotation of onsite hard drives are an important part of the pure onsite backup strategy. Even then consideration has to be given to how much data would be lost. As an example, consider a business which carries out backups overnight (the norm for many businesses). You finish work on a Thursday and take with you the hard drive for Wednesday’s backup. Overnight something happens like a fire and you have now lost all data from Thursday. For some businesses this would be easy enough to recover from but for others the sheer volume of data lost could be very costly.
When considering purely onsite backup the risk of ransomware data loss increases. Many cyber criminals no longer attack a system overnight, they hang around in the background for days or possibly weeks. Even though you may rotate your backup drives on a daily basis the cyber criminal may be encrypting them one at a time. Once they are happy that all backups are encrypted they then encrypt the live data leaving you no way to recover. To protect from this threat it is necessary to consider a cloud-based solution.
Cloud based backups
With increases in Internet speed it is now possible to back up entire servers in the cloud. If enough data exists it may take a while to do the initial backup but thereafter backups should be relatively quick. The limitation is generally the speed of the Internet so rural businesses may struggle unless they have fibre or leased line but for everyone else this has become a real possibility.
Advantages of cloud backup
By backing up to the cloud you have introduced what is termed an “air gap” between your live data and the backup. This means that in the case of ransomware attacks your original data will remain safe and unaffected.
With limitless storage capability a cloud backup also does not depend on buying external hard drives and remembering to rotate them on a daily basis.
Disadvantages of a cloud backup
There are two distinct disadvantages that come to mind when considering cloud backups. The first is the cost. Although data storage has become much cheaper over the last few years it still costs more than onsite backups and monthly costs range from £20 to £100s based on the amount of data you are protecting.
A consideration is how long you want to protect data. If you require every version of every file to be stored for 10 years your cost will be more than keeping only the last 1 month of version changes.
Another disadvantage of cloud backup is the time taken to recover all of the data needed to restore your entire machine / server. If this is several terabytes and your Internet is not amazingly fast you might be looking at 10 to 20 hours to just download the data. This obviously impacts your time to recover.
In the next and final article of this backup and disaster recovery series we will look at ways in which you can “have your cake and eat it” by utilising a hybrid of both onsite and offsite backups. Also, we will look at a business disaster backup recovery option which would allow almost instant recovery by utilising a hosted cloud version of your backup.
How can I get help
A good IT support company will be able to assist you with planning for a disaster. If you would like us to check through your IT disaster planning document we have engineers available.
If your business would like to talk about planning for disasters or secure data storage then fill out our contact form, phone us or click on the appointment button below and lets start a conversation to see if we are able to help you and your business.
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