Cloud backup: What should I back up?
Scenario: Your server crashes and your IT team scrambles to get it up and running. After discovering that the hard drive has crashed and the data on it has become inaccessible, you contact your cloud backup provider to begin a restore of your data. But this is where things get tricky, because as it happens, the wrong data was selected for backup.
Unfortunately, this is the type of situation that I have seen personally many times before - in fact, too many times. This blog will discuss the importance of building a clear strategy around safeguarding your most important information assets.
Choosing what to back up
This is a common question for organisations as the influx of data that spans an average network has simply exploded, so the simple answer is to back up what you can ill-afford to lose or do without. But why not back up everything? Unfortunately, in the online backup world, size does matter. Even when compressed, large data quantities hog up bandwidth and slow down systems. Cloud backup providers in South Africa recommend that you keep the backup size as low as possible.
For compliance purposes we need to retain at least five years’ of financial data. As you roll over to a new financial year, you may not use the previous year’s data. This data, however, needs to be backed up and kept safe. Depending on the size of the data you may backup to local storage media or to your cloud backup storage provider.
Periodic incremental backups
The cloud backup system that we use allows you to back up data daily or even several times a day. Backups are incremental i.e. only the changes that are made are transferred in compressed and encrypted format. The data can then be restored from a restore point so you could restore a backup from a particular day and at a certain time. This is useful when you need to access a document or data that has since been corrupted or changed. These types of backups are usually done on your live data such as SQL and accounting data.
Important data to back up
Pastel, VIP, Payroll, Evolution and other ERP software
IQRetail, Pilot Point of Sale and other PoS software iterations
Excel, Pdf, Word and other documents.
Exchange and mail databases
System state backups
Your website content
Excluding the clutter
Oftentimes, many types of files like videos and pictures hog up backup space and may be excluded from the backup. Other files such as setup and update files which can be easily obtained from DVD or downloaded need not be backed up. An important caveat: make sure that the file you exclude is meant to be excluded.
Make sure that the data you are backing up is current
Sometimes data storage locations may change. When in doubt, consult your software provider or IT person. I always check the date the file was modified to give an indication of whether the files are current. Sometimes data is not located on the same computer or folder but elsewhere.
Make cloud backup work for you
Apart from making sure that your backups are run at the correct time and periods, make sure that the correct data is selected. Online backup for all its convenience, security and peace of mind is not psychic and like all parts of the business continuity lifecycle, requires vigilant attention to detail and committed involvement. Make data integrity and online backup checking part of your business continuity system.