No matter how agile your business is, or how good your employees are, one accidental tap of the “delete” key on your customer database, or one ransomware infection could cripple (or worse, end) your business.
There has to be a way to avoid this, right?
There is! It’s called backups.
I know, I know, I can hear the groans. Backups? We already do those!
You might be backing up already, but I bet you’re doing it wrong.
See, most people and businesses know they need backups, but don’t back up at the right frequency or do one and then put doing more off entirely.
Or they think that their yearly backup is sufficient to get them back on their feet and never test it until ransomware has taken out all their computers, only to realize that their backup is too old or doesn’t work.
So, how could you be doing backups wrong?
Only doing full backups
When most people think about backups, they think about full backups.
These backups are where you include everything on every computer, device, and online storage you have. It would be best if you also created full backups of the configuration of IoT devices, online account settings, and files.
A full backup is what you would use to restore each computer, device, or account from scratch.
While full backups are the best to recover when things go south, with data changing so rapidly and the amount of time and effort it takes to do full backups, they’re not always feasible to do regularly.
That’s where incremental backups come in.
Incremental backups only backup changes since the last full backup. They’re beneficial because they’re much quicker (so you can do them more often) and usually smaller.
If you use backup software, you shouldn’t have to worry about the full and incremental backups (of course, confirm with your documentation!). Your software will usually do a full backup every so often, and then use incremental backups to keep updating that full backup.
However, if you’re one of those that backups files by hand, be sure to start doing both full and incremental backups!
Not backing up frequently enough
Of course, you should backup as often as you can since the more you update your backups, the less information you’ll lose in the event of an issue. Though, doing that is not always realistic.
That’s where using a combination of full and incremental backups at different frequencies can help.
The idea is to take full backups at regular intervals and then at shorter intervals take incremental backups to adjust for changes.
The most common recommendation is to complete full backups every month, and incremental backups every week.
Ultimately though, you should choose a backup frequency that works for your business and will give you the best head-start if you need to rely on that backup.
Some things to consider when choosing a backup schedule:
- The data on each computer or device, its importance, and how frequently it changes.
- The chances of something happening to your computer or device.
- The amount of data you could lose and still be able to operate effectively.
The more critical the data is to your business, and the less data you could afford to lose and still be able to operate, the more frequently you should backup.
For example, if you have a computer that only provides read-only access to historical records that never change, and each backup would be identical, then full backups each month probably aren’t the best use of your time.
However, if you use one laptop for your entire business and you’re prone to forgetting it at coffee shops, then at least daily incremental backups are a good idea.
Not creating offsite backups
In today’s world of access to the Internet everywhere and always-available online services, it’s easy to forget that the real world is fallible.
Fires, floods, natural disasters, break-ins, and thefts can and do happen.
Believe it or not, storing a backup in an offsite location could be your saving grace in one of these situations. It won’t help you avoid any of these issues, but the moment your office suffers a fire, or all your computers stolen, you’ll be glad you have another copy of your data elsewhere.
Not creating offline backups
Just a few years ago, creating backups and storing them on a network-connected storage drive was sufficient.
However, with ransomware steadily increasing (XX% in 2019!), things have changed.
These days, if you were to leave your backup on a network-connected computer, and your network becomes infected with ransomware, that ransomware could end up encrypting your backup.
If that happens, you’d be unable to restore your computer using that backup. You’d be in the same situation as if you didn’t backup at all.
Talk about a waste of time!
The best way to protect against this is to keep a copy of your backups offline. Not just on a computer or device that is powered off, either. But on a device (such as a portable hard-drive) that is unplugged from power and your network.
That way, there is a reduced chance of the backups accidentally being encrypted in a ransomware infection because someone turned on or plugged in the backup drive.
Not testing backups
Of those that do backups, few test those backups.
When I say testing backups, I don’t mean testing that your backups are completing successfully, but testing that the backups you’ve made are going to work to restore your computer.
That way, when you need them, you know they’re going to work, and you can quickly restore and get back to business.
Don’t wait to test your backups when you need to restore!
Not encrypting backups
One final thing you’re probably doing wrong with your backups is encryption. If your backups include any confidential or sensitive information, it’s essential to encrypt them before they’re stored.
The main reason here is loss or theft. If the hard drive containing your backups is stolen or lost, there is a reduced chance of your confidential or sensitive information getting into the wrong hands.
Now while most the backups here are dependent on your risk level, many of them are essential regardless.
Are you doing backups correctly? Leave a comment here and let me know if you are going to be adding anything to what you do for backups!