A data backup strategy is paramount to keeping the business running smoothly. Losing important files or customer data can severely impact operations and, in some cases, may even mean shutting down.
However, the challenge for most small businesses is that they don’t know where to start when it comes to developing a data backup strategy. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on data backup best practices for small businesses in Australia.
1. Consider your company’s risks and backup requirements
Before establishing backup frequencies and locations, you must consider your business’s risks. Data loss causes various causes, such as accidental deletion, hardware failure, software corruption, cybercrime, and natural disasters.
Think about the likelihood of each of these risks and how severe the consequences would be for data loss and corruption. For example, if you’re based in an area prone to floods or bushfires, you might want to consider storing backups off-site in a fire and waterproof facility. If data loss due to hardware failure scares you, you might invest in an online backup solution that creates copies of your data across multiple servers.
2. Decide what data to back up and how frequently to back it up
When making your backup plan, you must prioritize which data is most important to your business. Mission-critical information like financial records, proprietary records, and customer data should be backed up frequently, at least daily or weekly. If you have project documents or other files that are regularly updated, you might want to consider hourly or real-time backups to ensure you always have the most recent version. As for less critical data, like old marketing materials or employee records, you can get away with backing it up monthly or quarterly.
3. Store your backups in an isolated environment
A common mistake small businesses make is storing backups on the same server as the original data. However, you could lose your primary data and backups through server crashes or incidents. For this reason, storing backups in an isolated environment, such as a separate server in a different network or location, is important. If your primary data is lost, you will still have access to your backups.
4. When in doubt, follow the 3-2-1 backup policy
The 3-2-1 backup policy is a simple but effective way to protect data. Under this policy, you should maintain three copies of your data, two of which are stored in different backup media, with at least one copy stored off-site.
This could mean storing your backups in an on-site server, in an external hard drive, and the cloud for small businesses. This way, you’ll have multiple contingencies in place in case one of your backup solutions fails.
5. Encrypt your backups
No matter where you store your backups, you should always encrypt them to protect your data from unauthorized access. Encryption ensures that even if your backups are lost or stolen, they will be unreadable and unusable by anyone who doesn’t have the encryption key. Ideally, your data backups should use 256-bit advanced encryption standards, the most vital type of encryption currently available.
6. Automate backup processes
Automating the backup process is one of the best ways to ensure that your backups are always up to date. Many backup services offer the ability to schedule regular backups, so you never have to do things manually and risk forgetting or making mistakes. Additionally, some backup solutions easily integrates with any email system so you can receive alerts if any issues arise during the backup process.
7. Test your backups regularly
Backup strategies are useless if they don’t work when they need to. As such, it’s crucial to test your backups regularly to ensure that replication and recovery procedures work. This involves rechecking your backup schedule and restoring random files from backups to see if they’re usable. At a minimum, you should test your backups once a month. However, more frequent testing may be necessary if your backup solution is new or if you have made changes to your backup plan.
8. Consult with a managed IT services provider
Data backup procedures are critical for any business, but they can take the focus away from your core responsibilities. If you don’t have the time or resources to manage your backups effectively, consider working with a reliable managed IT services provider. MSPs can take care of all aspects of your IT infrastructure, including data backup and recovery. This ensures your data is always safe and secure.
Empower IT is an MSP that offers high-quality data backup and recovery services for small businesses in Australia. We can help you develop a robust backup plan. Contact us today to learn more about our services.