Stay Connected
Blog Detail
  • Creating a Data Backup Strategy for Your Small Business  

    December 1, 2022

    What is your data backup strategy for your small business? According to a 2021 survey, cloud computing was up 55% for all Australian businesses; however, company size influenced the percentages. For example, 81% of organisations with more than 200 employees used the cloud, while only 49% of businesses with less than four employees used cloud services. A lack of qualified personnel was the primary reason for delaying the use of the cloud.

    Companies use cloud services for data storage, hybrid work environments, data analytics, and data backup. IBM considers data backup and disaster recovery to be one of the top reasons for moving to the cloud. Disaster recovery sites are essential for business continuity, and that requires continuous duplication of data.

    Data Backup Strategy For Small Business

    Backing up data on-premise or to a traditional disaster recovery site takes resources to build the location, test it, and maintain it. With cloud services, organisations replicate their production systems to the cloud, eliminating the need for physical assets that require maintenance. The frequency of backups depends on organisational requirements.

    Creating a Data Backup Strategy

    Companies should have a backup strategy before looking for a backup solution because the right backup approach depends on your organisation’s needs. Answering the following questions can help you determine the best solution for your operational objectives.

    What Are Your Backup Goals?

    Before you look at data backups, you should ask why you are backing up the data. Many companies look at data backups as protection against ransomware attacks. They may consider system backups to protect against a disaster that temporarily disrupts operations.

    You may depend on historical data for analytics so protecting the information from loss is crucial to your business operations. Government or industry regulations may require protecting specific data. Whatever the reason, knowing why data is being backed up helps clarify goals.

    How Much Data Needs to be Backed Up?

    Start with how much data is in your business systems. Then, look at how much stored data should be transferred to the cloud. After calculating the base requirements, you should then identify the data types being considered. Protected data often has specific backup formats that should be considered in backup requirements.

    Online backup calculators are available to “guesstimate” storage requirements; however, have a professional do the final determination, as online calculators vary in accuracy.

    What is the Size of the Data?

    Organisations store data in multiple formats. There are databases and files, videos and images, even audio files. Knowing how large files are can determine storage requirements as well as the speed of the backup process. A few text files aren’t going to take up much space and will be quick to transfer. Large graphic files can take more time, depending on bandwidth.

    How Important is Speed?

    Speed is a concern when data is backed up and restored. Data backups can occur anytime, but most happen after hours when there is less demand for computer resources. If your business has minimal data, the backup should complete overnight at a relatively low speed. However, the larger the data store, the longer the backup takes.

    When the data size makes it impossible to back up data during a designated time, the back up speed will need to increase. Experienced professionals can help companies determine what is the best speed for the desired results.

    Backups are restored when your production data is no longer accessible. How quickly that needs to happen depends on your company’s activities. An eCommerce merchant will need data restored quickly, while a brick-and-mortar retailer may be able to function offline for a few hours. Speed is only part of the restoration requirements, but it is essential for time-sensitive operations.

    What About Data Security?

    Not only does your business need to secure its data, but you must protect data that falls under security regulations. Failure to comply can result in costly fines and customer compensation. Adhering to security regulations should be included in any backup strategy.

    Part of a security plan involves access. When finalising a backup strategy, be sure to include who will have access to the data, especially if a third party is hosting it.

    Creating an Online Backup Strategy

    Determining Your Online Data Backup Solution

    Backup solutions are as individualised as the businesses that use them. There is no such thing as “one size fits all.” Some companies may combine the following solutions to create an online data backup strategy that works for them.

    Full backup

    Full backups are the traditional approach because they are identical copies of production systems. Some strategies require a full backup once weekly, while others may look at daily backups. However, full backups take up resources that may not be available daily.

    Full backups are typically stored offsite to protect the data from cyberattacks. With full backups, companies can restore data in case of data corruption or a ransomware attack. The software used to create the backup must be used to restore the data. Depending on the software, restoring data may not be instantaneous.

    Full backups may be stored on tape drives or hard drives, but more businesses are looking to the cloud for backup storage. It doesn’t require a hardware investment and can be implemented quickly.

    Differential backup

    Differential backups are what the term implies. When the backup software runs, it locates changes since the last full backup and saves them. Differentials take far less time to complete. However, restoring differentials requires that the last full backup be restored, followed by the differentials.

    Differentials back up from the last full backup. If multiple differentials are created, they will each backup from the last full backup. The longer a company goes between full backups, the larger the differentials become. If not managed, a differential could become as time-consuming to back up as a full.

    Differentials are typically used to back up information between full backups to save time and storage requirements. With cloud backups, the storage requirements for differentials become less critical.

    Incremental backup

    Incremental backups differ from differentials because they back up data from the last backup. If the last backup were a differential, an incremental would save the changes from the differential, not from the last full backup. Incrementals take less time during the backup process. Whether to use differentials or incrementals depends on your company’s backup strategy.

    Suppose a full backup is performed Saturday evening. From Sunday through Friday, an incremental is performed. On Saturday morning, there’s a system failure, and data needs to be restored. The process requires that the prior Saturday’s full backup be restored, followed by six incrementals in sequential order. Depending on the size of the incrementals the process could take some time.

    If the same schedule were set using differentials instead of incrementals, a Saturday restore would require the previous full backup and the latest differential. The restore process would take less time, with only two backups. However, daily differentials would take more time to back up than incrementals.

    Choosing between a differential or an incremental depends on your company’s backup strategy. Is it more important to have a quick restore? Will daily differentials be too much of a load on existing systems? With cloud solutions, the issue of speed can be minimised.

    Backup Alternatives

    Sometimes system and data backups occur for specific use cases that would benefit from an alternative approach.

    Snapshots. Taking snapshots of a system before an upgrade minimises the time needed to back up an entire system. Best practices recommend making a backup of a system before performing an upgrade so there is a fallback position in case the upgrade fails.

    Clones. Cloning a system means making an identical copy of the production system, including meta data (the data about the system, not the data itself). The process is technically a copy and restore process. Clones are often created to run in virtual machines or to operate in a sandbox (test) environment to test an upgrade.

    These backup alternatives are designed for specific use cases but can be incorporated into an overall backup strategy.

    Finding an Online Backup Provider

    Creating a data backup strategy begins with business requirements. Companies must identify the mission-critical requirements for their system backups. Without that knowledge, you can’t identify data that requires compliance or how long data needs to be retained.

    Many businesses never consider business continuity in their data planning. The idea that a global event could impact a small business wasn’t even contemplated. Today, companies understand the importance of planning for business disruptions. When developing a strategy, organisations must consider how quickly they need to be operational after a disruption.

    After the business requirements are identified, then a backup strategy can be documented. Which technologies will be used? How often will full backups be required? Will differentials or incrementals be used? Are clones a part of planned upgrades?

    With cloud backups, businesses can quickly implement a backup strategy. No large investment in hardware and software. However, finding an experienced provider of backup solutions ensures that the strategy and its implementation will meet the business requirements.

    Contact Tech Seek to schedule a free audit and to learn how to create a backup strategy.