As a small business owner, your IT needs may be small too. Perhaps all your software is onsite on machines over which you have complete control. You keep your systems up-to-date and virus-free so that things run smoothly. Good for you. You should still have a data backup. Every business, regardless of its size, can benefit from these data backup best practices.
Having a data backup in place prepares your business to bounce back from a natural disaster or malicious attack (such as the ransomware that closed a major oil pipeline on the U.S. East Coast in May 2021). A data backup is also a proactive step in case of human error or hardware misconfiguration. Even if your business relies on cloud-based IT (including Microsoft 365, too), you will need a data backup to reduce downtime disruptions and get your business back up and running quickly.
Data is a commodity in business today. Don’t risk it. “A single data breach at a large company can result in millions of lost records and company devaluations of up to nearly 75%,” according to Technical and Business Consulting LLC.
Having a backup plan can help secure your business data if the worst happens. Data backup best practices include:
- Implement a data backup process
- Keep more than one data backup
- Limit access to your data backups
- Test your backups
- Plan for data expansion
Implement a Data Backup Process
Start by taking data backup best practices seriously. This is not a “nice to have” that you can get around to someday. Backing up your data should be a top priority on an ongoing basis.
If you only back up your data once, after reading this article, because you feel motivated to do so, but then don’t do it again, it won’t be that much help. After all, a utility failure could cause you data loss two years from now, and your data backup will be wildly out of date by then.
When establishing your data backup plans, make sure you have a process that suits your business needs. A business may habitually back up in the early hours of each morning when the process is least likely to interfere with people’s work. Yet, a daily backup may not be enough. Depending on the kind of data you use, losing records of even a few work hours could prove costly. The loss could hurt your productivity or be a problem down the road for compliance audits.
Keep More Than One Data Backup
Perhaps your business backs up its data to an external USB hard drive, thinking that’s good enough. But what happens if that drive is lost or stolen? If you keep the thumb drive onsite, what happens if your office is destroyed by fire? Or what if the drive is destroyed by a natural disaster that takes your computers too? You’d be left with nothing.
Data backup best practice is to back up in three places. There’s the obvious first business backup on a local, onsite computer. But, additionally, you’d also backup your data to a remote device that requires separate access. Having another backup in the cloud helps your business enjoy flexible access anywhere, regardless of conditions in the office environment.
This approach is known as a 3-2-1 strategy as you will have three copies, on two different storage types, with one copy always offsite.
Limit Access to Your Data Backups
As with all cybersecurity, you want to limit the number of people who can access your data backups. Only those who have a responsibility in business continuity and disaster recovery should be able to get at them. This is called least privilege access. It helps curtail any damage done by a bad actor who gains access to someone’s access credentials. They can only wreak havoc within that individual’s areas of access. Plus, it helps limit the threat of an insider causing problems.
Another way to limit access? Encrypt your backup data. This encryption keeps your backups secure in case of loss or compromise.
Test Your Backups
Testing helps you gauge the efficacy of your business backup plans. Actively testing your backups allows you to:
- Confirm data accuracy and fallback effectiveness
- Determine how long a backup takes to perform
- Identify any issues that arise during recovery
- Take action to address those problems
You may think you are someone who works best under pressure. However, most of us make better decisions when we can plan ahead and be proactive.
Plan for Data Expansion
Let’s start with email. According to Osterman Research, email has 75% of the information your staff needs to work effectively each day. And that’s all data that needs to be secured. Now add the many other types of digital data your business relies on. The vast amount of business data is growing 40% annually, per Iron Mountain. Plan ahead for the exponential growth of the business data you’ll need to secure when making your data backup plans.
Best Plans for Data Backup
Many businesses have the best intentions around data backup and backing up their business website. But they don’t act. Heed these business data backup best practices to avoid downtime disruptions, compliance issues, and tarnished reputation with your customers.