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Backup for SMEs – which strategy is the best?

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Norwin Metzger
Von Norwin Metzger
Tuesday, 2. April 2019

Is your data sufficiently protected? Backup is not the same as backup and it is often worthwhile to question your own backup concept and make appropriate improvements. New technologies and changing threats require adjustments to ensure the best possible protection.

Do you know if your backup works?

Backup is often neglected in smaller companies. Is the backup successful? Does the recovery actually work? Is there a backup if the whole server room is under water? How long does it take in case of total failure until the company is operational again? Questions that every company needs to answer.

The 3-2-1 backup rule

The 3-2-1 backup rule determines the minimum requirements for a responsible backup concept. It is applicable to every size of company and every IT budget and ensures three-level protection of the data that eliminates most of the risks of data loss.

  • All data exist as a 3-fold current copy. Once stored on the productive system that you work with daily and two copies as a backup
  • At least 2 different types of media are used to store the three copies of data, such as hard disks in the production system and a NAS or cloud storage for backup
  • 1 current copy of the data is always outside the home, be it on an external hard drive at home in the safe or in the cloud

Make sure that these principles are followed by your backup plan and regularly reviewed. In the event of data loss due to electronic damage, cyberattacks, burglary or elemental damage, you will always have a current copy of the data at your fingertips.

What else should be noted

If an SME follows the 3-2-1 backup rule, a lot has already been achieved. But there are other points that are crucial for a successful backup match. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How long can you, as a company, afford to be non-operational in an emergency?
  • How long can the maximum data loss be up to the last backup? One week, one day or just one hour?
  • How sensitive is your data?
  • How do you make sure that disaster recovery actually works?

These questions are important for properly configuring the backup system, encrypting data if necessary, and choosing the right types of media, with multiple options.

  • Portable Hard Drives: Today a very common medium for backups. They are easy to handle, fast and cheap, but at the same time sensitive to falls and therefore require careful handling.
  • NAS Systems: Network Attached Storage (NAS) is a small file server that backs up the network over the network. This may, for example, also be in a branch in another city. The advantage of this system is simple handling and use as a central backup medium for multiple server systems.
  • Cloud backup: Cloud backup is one of the most convenient and secure ways to back up your data, with data backed up to a cloud provider in the data center. However, conditions, security standards and the data location should be checked well in advance.
  • Tapes / Magnetic Tapes: Tapes are very inexpensive and suitable for long-term backup and archiving. The handling is cumbersome and therefore they are no longer very common in SMEs. Modern tapes store up to 12 TB of data.
  • CDP backups: CDP (Continuous Data Protection) refers to a process of continuous data backup on a number of hard disks within a backup server. This method also saves completely new data, but is very complex and costly.

Do not compromise

The perfect backup strategy depends on many factors. Budget, backup frequency, enterprise size, IT resources, recovery time, and business-specific requirements must be considered. But do not compromise, because if you suffer data loss and you do not have a working backup, your entire business is at stake. It pays to tackle the subject of backup in a serious and structured manner and to minimize risks as far as possible.