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Building Your Backup Strategy: Three Questions to Ask

Jennifer Noto

Most business owners and managers understand how important the data supporting their organizations is, yet they are not always aware of how poorly protected their data may be. They assume that somehow data gets copied to offline storage periodically and if something ever goes wrong, they will be able to get it back. 

Failed hardware is one of the common causes of data loss and is often the focus of any loss prevention program. According to a recent study, 31% of data loss incidents are caused by hardware or system failure, and 29% of lost data is caused by human error. Another 29% of data loss is caused by viruses, malware or ransomware attacks. Fortunately, it is possible to help protect yourself against all these data failure events.

Understanding the requirements of your organization along with your budget realities can help you determine your backup strategy. There are three questions you must be able to answer before you can evaluate whether your backup and data protection strategy is going to meet your needs. 

What data do you need to protect?  What data is most valuable to your business operations? Depending on the nature of your business, the type of data you want to protect will vary. Some examples of data include customer, financial, operational, knowledge (such as design documents or treatment records), and email.

How much data can you lose in each category?  Data protection depends on data being copied and saved.  If you copy the data every hour, then you could lose up to an hour of data.  If you copy the data every day, you could lose a day’s worth of data.  This is called the Recovery Point Objective (RPO). There are different RPOs for different types of data depending on the needs of your business.

How long you are willing to be down while data is restored?  The targeted duration of time that a business process must be restored following a disaster is known as the Recovery Time Objective (RTO). RPO and RTO trade off against cost and against each other.  The decision of what data to protect, how much you can afford to lose, and how long you may take to recover must be made for every class of data in your system.

You’ll most likely end up with combinations of continuous hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly backups along with a rotation schedule to discard older copies.  In our next post, we will discuss the different types of backups you can perform in your environment. Speak with one of our experts today to learn more about our backup solutions.