Data loss happens to every company. Whether through theft, equipment failure, or natural disaster, everyone who uses computers has – or will – lose some of their data at some point. The only question is whether or not they will be able to retrieve that data once it’s lost.
For businesses, the loss of data can cause a critical failure for their company. Loss of information that is protected by FERPA or HIPAA can cause large fines. Loss of customer information may cripple a company’s ability to continue its work. Maintaining backups absolutely must be part of any responsible company’s business continuity plan. If you don’t already have a backup system in place, this is how to get one started.
Why cloud backups?
Many companies are moving from external hard drive or tape backup systems to cloud backups for several reasons. Cloud backups are easier to maintain and generally don’t require the regular attention that tape backup systems do. The backup process to the cloud is usually simpler than tape backups. And cloud backups don’t require the same sort of on-site storage space that tape backup equipment usually does. Cloud backups are generally more cost and time effective.
Understand the amount of data you have
To find a cloud backup provider and get pricing on a potential backup service, you need to know how much data will need to be backed up. The amount of data on your hard drives is a good place to start, but don’t be surprised if more storage is ultimately needed. Any cloud backup company should be able to help you find the right amount of storage.
Consider regulations surrounding your data
Data is generally encrypted during transfer and in storage, but if your company is backing up sensitive information – such as PII, HIPAA data, or other federally protected information – it’s a good idea to learn more about the data encryption that your backup company uses on site. Make sure it’s sufficient for the information you’re storing.
Initial backup process
Depending on how much data you are sending into the cloud for backup, the upload time can be incredibly long. If you have a larger amount to store, you can look for a company that offers an initial upload through a hard drive, which is sent or delivered to the backup facility. From there, the service offers “incremental backups” – the system looks for files that have been changed or modified and backs those up, rather than pulling up your entire system.
Don’t forget your SaaS data. Many people assume that when they’re using a cloud program, all of their data is automatically backed up. This may be true – but if you’re storing sensitive, business-critical information in a basic SaaS database, backing this up may be beneficial to your business. Most programs offer the option to sync data to your hard drive; from there you can make it part of your regular backup process.
Restoring data options
Much like big upload projects, you want to know what options you will have available to you if your information needs to be restored after a loss event. Will you need to download all of your information from the cloud again? If so, be prepared for it to take a while for your data to be up and running again. A better situation would be to have a hard drive delivered to your company that will get your company functional immediately, allowing you to get back to business.
In general, backups should follow the 3-2-1 rule – you should have three copies of your data, using at least two different backup methods, with one stored offsite. Adding cloud storage to your backup mix can be a huge benefit in the event of a true data disaster.