Data Backup and Recovery - Importance, Best Practices, and More

Haseeb Awan
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April 5, 2023

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Data Backup and data recovery are essential digital practices. Technology is a necessity today, and even though it is becoming increasingly reliable, you never know what mishap can cause you to lose data. It could be a virus, or it could be a device malfunction. Since data loss is common, automated backups have saved data in recent years. However, every individual and organization needs to know how to take data backups to prevent the loss of important information. 

What is Data Backup?

Data backup and recovery refers to creating copies of critical data and storing them in a separate location in case the original data is lost or becomes inaccessible. This is an essential practice for individuals and organizations to protect against data loss due to hardware failures, software bugs, human error, cyber-attacks, or other unexpected events. 

Data backups can be stored on various media, including external hard drives, cloud storage services, and physical tapes, and they can be created manually or automatically regularly. Data recovery involves restoring lost or corrupted data from the backup copies, either to the original location or a new location. 

A well-designed data backup and recovery plan can help minimize the impact of data loss and ensure the availability of critical data for business continuity and compliance purposes.

Why is Data Backup Important?

Data backup is an essential practice for all organizations. Without proper means of backup, even the slightest amount of data loss can spell significant trouble for an organization. Therefore, there are several reasons why data backup is essential:

Data Loss Can Have Serious Consequences

Losing important data can have a severe negative impact on individuals and companies. For individuals, data loss can mean the loss of important personal or financial information, photos, and other memories. For organizations, data loss can hamper them financially and even harm their reputation with customers and in the market. 

Data Loss is More Common Than You Think

Data loss can happen to anyone at any time. Hardware failures, software bugs, and human error are all common causes of data loss. In addition, the risk of cyber-attacks is increasing as more people and organizations rely on the internet and digital technologies. According to a survey by Kaspersky, one in five businesses experienced a data breach in the past year.

Data Backup Helps Minimize The Impact of Data Loss

While data loss is inevitable, data backup can help minimize the impact of data loss. By regularly creating copies of critical data and storing them in a separate location, you can ensure that you have access to the data you need, even if the original data is lost or inaccessible. Even if you must take certain information from your customer base again, it is still easier than building your database from scratch.

Data Backup is Essential For Business Continuity

For organizations, data backup is essential for business continuity. Losing access to critical data can disrupt business operations and lead to financial losses. A reliable data backup plan can ensure that your organization can continue to operate, even in the face of data loss. Most high-level organizations have departments dedicated to emergency management and business continuity to ensure their business never stops running. 

Data Backup is Necessary for Compliance

Depending on your industry, you may be required to comply with specific regulations and standards that mandate data backup. Of course, data backup for compliance benefits the organization, but failure to comply often results in consequences. 

Best Data Backup Practices

Like all other technological practices, understanding how to back up data correctly is essential to all individuals and organizations. There are better ways to go about data backup than relying on automated functions alone. So here are some of the best practices in data backup:

Determine What Data To Backup

The first step in creating a data backup plan is determining what data to back up. This includes identifying the critical data necessary for your business or personal needs and any data required for compliance. It's essential to regularly review and update this list, as your data needs may change over time.

Necessary data is different for every organization. For example, for an e-commerce website, protecting customer accounts and payment details is crucial. For a hospital, patient records and their personal information are a top protection priority. While it is essential to back this data up, it is also tricky since too many backups will make the information more vulnerable. Organizations should sit with their IT teams and discuss the critical data and how to back it up.  

Choose a Backup Location

There are several options for where to store your data backups, including external hard drives, cloud storage services, and physical tapes. Each option has advantages and disadvantages, and your best choice will depend on your specific needs and budget. It's essential to choose a backup location that is secure, reliable, and accessible.

Data on external drives and tapes can be stolen if it is not secure. And if external drives are the only backup source, any physical damage or mishaps could damage the data. 

While cloud storage is not affected by physical accidents, it is fickle in different ways. Viruses and malware can affect cloud storage, and the data is always under cyber security threats. Therefore, the organization needs to ensure that its security and backup practices are monitored and well-maintained. Consistent monitoring is the best and only way to protect sensitive information truly.

Establish a Backup Schedule

We have already discussed that constant monitoring and maintenance is the best data backup method. Once you have determined what data to back up and where to store it, the next step is to establish a backup schedule. This will determine how often you create new backups and how frequently you update existing backups. It's essential to choose a schedule that is frequent enough to protect against data loss but not so frequent that it becomes a burden.

To back up the data on a system, the company has to leave it idle for at least a few hours, depending on how powerful it is. Naturally, the data backup cannot occur during regular functions. Therefore, data backup is often done in batches or all at once at regular intervals, like once a month. 

Use Multiple Backup Copies

It's a good idea to create multiple copies of your data backups and store them in different locations. This helps to protect against data loss due to hardware failures, software glitches, or other unexpected events that may affect one of your backup copies. It's also a good idea to store at least one copy of your data backups offsite in case of a disaster that affects your primary location.

Of course, security needs to be tight around your data back copies. You might need it for data recovery at some point, but perpetrators getting access to this information would be even worse for you.

Test Your Backups

It's essential to regularly test your data backups to ensure that they are working correctly and that you can access the data you need. This can be done by manually practicing data recovery or using a backup testing tool.

Testing your data backup is essential to determine if the backup files are still okay or have been corrupted. The fear is always malware added to the backup files for cloud backup, but the entire drive or a few files could be corrupted for external drives.

Use Encryption

Data backup is only effective if your data is secure. Unauthorized users can gain access to the data quickly through hacking and security breaches. However, this data would only be valid to them if it is undecipherable. It is a good idea to use encryption for your data backups to protect against unauthorized access. This can be done using software tools or hardware devices that encrypt data at rest and in transit. To date, data encryption is one of the best methods of data security you can practice.

Use a Backup Service or Tools

Consider using a backup service if you need more resources or expertise to create and manage your data backups. There are many commercial and open-source options available, and they can provide a convenient and reliable way to create and manage your data backups.

It is essential to use a reliable service or tools for data backup. Find authentic reviews and recommendations for backup tools and services before committing to one. You can start by testing small batches of data before using the service for everything in your system. 

Develop a Recovery Plan

In addition to creating data backups, it's also essential to have a plan in place for recovering lost or corrupted data. This should include details on restoring data from your backups and any procedures that need to be followed if data is lost.

Train Your Employees

it's essential to educate your employees about the importance of data backup and recovery and how to follow your data backup procedures to ensure the effectiveness of your data backup plan. This can help to prevent data loss due to human error and ensure that your employees know how to restore data from your backups if necessary.

Types of Data Backup

There are various types of data backup, each with its benefits and demerits. Here are some of the commonly used methods of data backup at present:

Full Backup

This type of backup involves copying all the files in a system at a particular time. Full backups are typically used as the basis for all other types of backups, and they can be used to restore a system to the exact state it was in at the time the backup was created. Usually, a system has the automated option of full data backup and data recovery built into it. It is effective unless it gets corrupted. 

Incremental Backup 

Incremental data backup only backs up data modified since the previous backup session. This is a highly efficient backup method since it is much faster and wiser than a full backup. Making your system go through a full backup in each backup session would weigh on the system immensely. 

Differential Backup 

Differential backup is a type of backup that copies all the files that have changed since the last full backup. They are like incremental backups, but they do not require the presence of a full backup to be helpful.

Mirrored Backup

This type of backup involves creating an exact copy of all the files in a system and storing the copy in a different location. Mirrored backups help protect against hardware failures or disasters that might destroy the primary copy of the data. Encrypting such data is essential since it can fall into the wrong hands. 

Online Backup: 

This type of data backup involves copying data over a network to a remote server or cloud storage service. Online backups protect against hardware failures and disasters, allowing users to access their data anywhere with an internet connection. However, it would help if you remembered that online backup is more susceptible to security threats than physical backup. Therefore, you should use ample protection, such as encrypting your data to protect it online. 

Local Backup: 

This type of backup involves copying data to a local storage device, such as an external hard drive or a USB flash drive. Local backups protect against hardware failures but do not offer protection against disasters. Other than that, after a specific time, many of these devices get corrupted as well. So, it would be best to rely on something other than local backup. 

Cloud Backup: 

This type of backup involves copying data to a remote server or cloud storage service. Cloud backups protect against hardware failures and disasters, allowing users to access their data anywhere with an internet connection. Cloud-based data backup is arguably the most effective type of data backup. However, data on public clouds is always under cyber security threat. 

Recovering Lost Data

Data loss can be scary, but it is quite a common occurrence. It is essential to know how to recover lost data using backups to ensure that the organization does not face any consequences. 

Use The Backups You Have Created

If you have a recent backup of the lost data, you can restore the data from the backup. This is the quickest and easiest way to recover lost data. If you use an external data backup service, they usually have protocols for data recovery that you can work with. With efficient backup, data recovery is a piece of cake. 

Determine The Cause of The Data Loss

Understanding the cause of the data loss is essential to recover data effectively. This will help determine the appropriate recovery methods to use. At times, a simple system restore is all you need for complete data recovery. 

Also, determining the cause of data loss can prevent further data loss if you get rid of the root of the problem first. 

Stop Using The Affected Device

Suppose the data was lost due to a hardware failure or other issue with a specific device. In that case, it is crucial to stop using the device immediately to prevent further data loss. Replacing affected hardware immediately is more manageable than recovering important data lost by the company. 

Try Using Data Recovery Software

Many data recovery software programs available can help recover lost data. These programs can often recover data that has been deleted or lost due to a hardware failure. Remember, any data that has ever been online is never truly deleted. So, there is always a chance of recovery, no matter how debilitating the loss is. 

Send The Device to a Data Recovery Service

Suppose the data loss was due to a hardware failure, and you cannot recover the data using data recovery software. In that case, you may need to send the device to a professional data recovery service. These services can often recover data that cannot be recovered using software alone. However, even these services cannot recover your lost data. They may also cost a lot of money.

Consider the Cost

Data recovery can be a costly process, especially if it requires the services of a professional data recovery service. And only some of the data you lose is important enough to spend money on. Software bugs and accidents can sometimes remove redundant data as well. 

It is essential to consider the value of the lost data carefully and whether it is worth the cost to recover it. Sometimes the organization would find it cheaper to collect the data again, especially if it has been collected over a shorter span of time. 

Conclusion

Data backup is essential to every organization, and companies must always pay special attention to their backup needs. Data loss is a fickle thing and can occur at any moment. You must ensure you're doing everything possible to prevent heavy losses from inadequate data backup. Only then will data recovery be a smooth and seamless process.  

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Haseeb Awan
CEO, Efani Secure Mobile

I founded Efani after being Sim Swapped 4 times. I am an experienced CEO with a demonstrated history of working in the crypto and cybersecurity industry. I provide Secure Mobile Service for influential people to protect them against SIM Swaps, eavesdropping, location tracking, and other mobile security threats. I've been covered in New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Hulu, Nasdaq, Netflix, Techcrunch, Coindesk, etc. Contact me at 855-55-EFANI or haseebawan@efani.com for a confidential assessment to see if we're the right fit!

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