What are some elements to consider for a successful data backup plan?

If you’ve experienced data loss before you will know how important it is to have a working data backup plan. There are numerous different causes of data loss, and as such, no data is ever immune from threat. The best way to safeguard your data, and your business, against data loss is to devise a good data backup plan.

The solution you choose will depend on your individual circumstances and needs – but in general, the simpler the better.

There are countless different methods to backing up your data, including using built-in Mac and Windows services such as Time Machine, iCloud and OneDrive (in more recent versions); external hard drives and third-party data backup programmes.

To help you devise an effective data backup plan and determine which method best suits your purposes, we’ve put together a helpful checklist of things to consider.

8 things to consider when choosing a data backup plan:

Develop a file organisation standard

Organisation is key for data backup plans, particularly if you are a large company. Having a standard policy for storing files will not only ensure employees know where to save files, but in the case of data loss, will make it far simpler to to get your files back if data recovery is required.

If you have a number of different servers and storage systems, performing a data audit can help to ensure that all the important data has been backed up and is on the system.

Remember that your backup is not the primary storage

One of the most common errors in devising backup systems is having the data backup become the primary storage, and having no other copies of the data in place.

It is crucial to remember that the backup is not the primary storage, and should act as a copy, in concurrence with both the main drive and another data storage system.

Choose a plan based on how much data you want to store and your circumstances

The amount of data you want to store will determine which method you choose to backup your data. The methods chosen by an individual and a business will thus be different.

If you have a relatively small amount of data to backup, personal data, or are unable to store data at a physical location such as an off-site shared office, you may want to consider simple online backup systems such as OneDrive or iCloud. The data could also be stored on a portable USB thumb drive or CD.

“When using a cloud based backup, or even primary storage, it is important to remember that if your internet connection goes down or you are in an area with no access to the internet you also lose access to your data in the cloud until you can re-connect!”

Nicolas Thomas, Operations, Computer Forensics NZ

If you are devising a data backup plan for a company or organisation, you might want to consider larger and more extensive system. Many businesses use network-attached storage (NAS) systems or more complex RAID systems that enable multiple users to retrieve data from a centralised storage unit.

Again, it is important to remember not to fall into the trap of having your network storage become the primary (and only) location of your data. Certain types of RAID systems can provide some redundancy in the case of a single disk failure but they are not immune to failures and you must always have more than one copy of all your data.

Consider implementing a scalable system

As well as taking into consideration the size of the data backup system you require, you may need to think about potentially implementing a scalable system that can keep up with data growth.

If you are in a business that is continually growing, you will want to choose a system with flexibility and the capacity to hold more data if necessary.

Decide how and when to backup

Another factor to consider is when and how often you backup your data. Many systems will back your files up automatically, but it is still important to check this regularly to ensure everything is running correctly.

Another important consideration is to backup in the evenings in order to avoid interrupting users during office hours.

Determine which files need to be backed up

Once you have organised your files and decided which type of backup system will work best for you, you need to establish which files need to be backed up. Anything fundamental to the business or irreplaceable is clearly important to include but you may not want to waste storage space and system resources backing up files that are not important or that you will never need to use again.

Create an onsite data backup system

Your onsite backup is your first line of defence against data loss. This may take the form of a hard drive or other data backup system.

Onsite data backups are important as it is far easier to control and check an onsite system, and if you do lose files, you can quickly restore them from the local backup. Remember that you must never backup data on to the same hard disk as you are using in your computer.

Include a third offsite data backup system in your plan

Having another copy of your important data in a different location to your primary data and backup is vital to a comprehensive data backup plan. As mentioned, a secondary backup safeguards against failure of the primary storage system onsite.

Moreover, having the secondary backup at a different location means that if there is a disaster and both storage sets are lost, you will still have your files saved somewhere else.

An off-site backup system can include an online server like Dropbox or Backblaze but it can also be as simple as having a trusted staff member or director taking home a USB hard drive containing the weekly backup home with them on the weekend.

Experts in data recovery since 1999, the Computer Forensics team will help you recover your data should you experience data loss.

If you have lost your data, or have any questions about data backup plans or data recovery, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0800 LOST FILES or contact us online.