3 Things Every Business Should Know About Backup
Many people think that backup is simply about copying data and then copying it back if needed. The process probably was that simple in 1960 — as simple as punching another set of computer cards and keeping them in a safe place. Technology has advanced rapidly in the past 50 years, so backup processes have also had to advance. Backup covers a variety of use cases from simple file recovery to recovery of complex systems
Companies have protected their data ever since carbon copies were stored in bonded warehouses, but times have changed. The techniques for protecting information and recovering from disastrous data loss have also changed. Let us bring you up to speed on modern data protection.
What is data? The question may seem to be very simple, but answering it isn’t so easy. Data may mean simple text files, or it may mean a vast range of types of complex information. In a modern computer system, data means programs, files, and metadata.
Because data takes many forms, it’s easy to get confused about which data needs to be protected so it can be reproduced easily. In general, however, items that have value should be protected. Just as cavemen were careful to keep their children away from saber-toothed tigers, you’re probably careful about where you leave an expensive watch or park your car. Why do you protect your things? They have value to you. If these items are lost or stolen, you lose the value associated with them. Even insurance can compensate only with money; it can’t restore the items that it covered. Data is a bit different. If you take proper care of it, you should be able to recover it easily — and its value along with it.
Information technology (IT) experts protect data against loss and destruction, such as through theft, accidental deletion, or deliberate alteration. Fortunately, protecting data is easier than you may think. If you plan carefully and execute your plans well, it’s possible to protect your data to any level you desire.
Consider protecting the following items:
- Bootstrap data
- File-structure metadata
- Driver binaries
- Operating system
- Configuration files
- Application programs
- Data files
3 Things to Know About Backup
The mantra for backup is easy, complete, and safe:
- Working with Simplicity: Simplicity is probably the most important factor, because it’s the quality that prevents mistakes. Companies that have evolved their backup solutions over years may be using incompatible products and backup media, which can cause problems. If they have no standard recovery checklists or written procedures, they’re almost always asking for trouble. Arguably more important than clear checklists and plans are easy-to-use interfaces, with minimal setup and single-click recovery. But in any case, make sure you consider usability in choosing an easy, complete, and safe backup product.
- Understanding Completeness: Completeness means having not only all the data necessary to recover the system after any failure, but also the proper tools and processes. Your backup software may help you create a bootable CD or DVD, which you can use to recover when you have no running system at all. If your system doesn’t allow you to create such a disc, however, you have to reinstall the system. Likewise, your backup program should be able to reproduce disk partitions and formats instead of expecting you to do the work manually; this task is tricky and must be done perfectly. Finally, your backup software should print recovery instructions for you to follow, just as an airline captain follows a checklist to land an aircraft.
- Relying on Safety: Safety has two components:
- Reliability: To be safe, backup data must be reliably captured. Obviously, the data must be readable, and if the backup depends on any other data, that data must also be readable. Backup software may use a variety of techniques to capture data safely, but if the data can’t be read, the system can’t be recovered. One missing piece of data can make the entire system unrecoverable.
- Security: After data is captured, it needs to be protected against changes and theft. If your backup system isn’t secure, a bad actor could sneak into it, steal data, and then do something to harm your main system with no one being the wiser. The only cure is prevention. Keep your backup process simple and well documented. Start at the beginning by capturing the data properly.
Want to learn more? Download the Acronis Backup for Dummies eBook on Backup for more insight and valuable information for protecting your company's data.