Building a Strong Backup Plan

Backing up your data can be a lot of extra work, seem needless, and become overly complicated if not managed properly. Some programs can help make this process easier, but what we’ve found is that a good plan, and consistency yield the best success.

We’ve found a way to break this down so that it is not so coma-inducing. While setting up and checking backups can be an annoying process, Backups have been found to be the only thing that guarantees a 100% chance of recovery from Ransomware as long as it’s set up correctly.

Our Philosophy

Basically, we break our philosophy down into FOUR steps:

  1. Backup what you need, and nothing more. (This means delete OLD backups!)
  2. Backup your data in two places, and keep them updated.
  3. Store your backup encrypted, so that your data can remain protected.
  4. (Optional) Sleep easy knowing your data is safe.

Top FOUR Mistakes in Backup Plans

Here are some things to avoid while backing up your data.

  1. Don’t just copy everything.

    • We’re not kidding. Don’t back up the stuff that you don’t need.
    • This will reduce the overall amount of backups that you can keep, and can overcomplicate your backup archive very quickly with unnecessary clutter. Instead, pick and choose what you do need to save.
    • If you are having trouble deciding what to keep and what not to keep, prioritize your top items, and calculate the average space required, and determine where the cutoff should lie.
  2. Don’t back up your data onto the same hard drive.

    • This may seem like common sense, but copying data from your computer onto another folder on the same drive will not provide you any protection. This will reduce the amount of usable space available on your computer while still exposing you to the same risks of hardware failure.
    • Instead, back up your data onto a secondary drive, external hard drive, or with a ‘cloud’ provider.
  3. Don’t back up your data to a CD or DVD. (Just… don’t.)

    • Why not? Well, realistically it’s a matter of preference. From a financial standpoint, it does not make sense to keep buying new disks, and even if you choose to use rewritable disks, the read and write speeds to the drive will significantly slow down your backup process.
    • Keeping an archive of disks and managing a labeling system also can overcomplicate this process. We recommend using a hard drive where you can move files at will, and delete what is not needed. USB 3.1 SS (Or USB 3.0) will get you fantastic read/write speeds, or eSATA if these options are not available.
  4. Don’t back up your data on old hardware.

    • This, again, may seem like common sense, but we see a large number of businesses resort to using old hardware that they had lying around to accomplish their backup tasks. Taking all of your data and copying it to a hard drive unit that is 8+ years old is not going to provide any benefit if that drive later fails due to age.
    • Make sure that the hardware that you are using for your backup (or software) is evenly matched to the systems that you are running to ensure the highest compatibility, reliability, and recoverability.

Top THREE Things for a Strong Backup Plan

  1. Determine what you don’t want to lose (and no, don’t say everything)

    • The first thing that you should do is determine what is sacred, and what you are not very concerned about. Photos, Documents, Contracts, Spreadsheets, Presentations, and Videos are all important resources, but we have no need to backup the system files.
    • Filter out the folders and items that you don’t need, such as certain filetypes, certain folders, and certain hard disks to drastically reduce your overhead expenditure.
  2. Determine your retention policy.

  3. Determine your method

    • Method 1 – Back up your data to an External Hard Drive.
      • You can easily copy files off of your system directly, and place them on an external hard drive.
      • To keep your backup clean, have your office manager filter through the backup files each month and delete anything outside of your retention policy.
      • We recommend this option to everyone, regardless of any other methods selected. This helps to ensure that you always have a copy of your data at hand.
      • Store any backup hard drives used for backup in a fire safe to protect them against environmental damage or theft.
    • Method 2 – Write a Script.
      • This is something that some businesses use to automate the copy and management of their files.
      • Building your own scripts can put your company at risk, and risk overwriting important data in addition to keeping data secure.
      • Scripting helps you to make copies of data quickly, and reduce the amount of work required by a representative.
    • Method 3 – Use your Own Software.
      • This is a more common option and is something that we see commonly used in households and small businesses.
      • Using Special Backup software will often automate the validation process, ensuring that you have functional backups when you need them.
      • Using your own software will place all of the liability on your company to ensure that it is running properly and configured appropriately.
    • Method 4 – Hire an MSP.
      • What is an MSP? It’s a Managed Service Provider (Like Us!). Managed Service Providers are able to offer you a software and hardware solution for your backups.
      • Usually, this is something that is a subscription-based model but provides the highest level of care.
      • MSPs will typically offer an uptime SLA (Service Level Agreement), as well as multi-site redundancy options to ensure that your data is always available via a content delivery network.
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Falls Technology Group, LLC is a National Managed IT Service Provider and Hosting Provider based out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Ryan T. M. Reiffenberger

Ryan is our Lead Web Architect here at Falls Technology Group. Starting in 1999, Ryan has been working on building websites, computers, and servers for over 20 years.

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