Ben Taylor is the Head of Content for 4Choice Ltd., which creates market-leading technical product comparison sites.
We recently asked Ben for his insight on data backup for business including strategies for protecting data and trends he's observing in the industry. Here's what he had to say:
Why is backup so crucial to businesses today?
Backup has always been crucial for businesses, but it's arguably even more so in this day and age. Hackers are actively trying to make money from separating businesses from their data using ransomware attacks - and other cybersecurity threats exist from various directions too.
What are the most common mistakes you see businesses making when it comes to backing up their company data?
Being too relaxed with their approach and not believing threats apply to them is the big one. Since my IT consultancy days I've often said that the only clients who really take backups seriously are those who have experienced costly data loss for themselves, and this still applies today. It's a really dangerous attitude but one that widely prevails.
For those who do backup regularly, the most common technical mistake is not continually reviewing backup plans. This can result in new systems and databases being introduced but not added to the backup regime.
What should data backup entail? How often should it be performed?
Essentially, data backup should include all business data, enabling a company to get back up and running in a reasonable timeframe should they "lose everything."
In terms of frequency, I'd say a daily incremental backup is a good guideline, but the simplest way of putting it is what you can get back in a disaster is what you last backed up. So, the longer you leave between backups, the more data you can potentially lose.
What are the different types of backup solutions available to businesses today?
Ten years ago, you'd usually find backup tapes and drives in most offices and comms rooms. These are now less ubiquitous but still in use in some companies. However, most firms do continue to retain local (on-site) backups, sometimes using harddrive-based cartridges now instead of tapes.
The big change is that online, cloud-based backup has become much more popular, with most progressive companies using some kind of cloud backup. It's always wise to have at least two backups, so supplementing online backup with some kind of local physical backup is ideal.
When it comes to backups, are all backup solutions created equal?
No - far from it! There are huge variations in features and also data transfer speeds, which are very important when you have a lot of data to move "up" to the cloud. We've tested dozens of providers and listed some of our favorites here.
What considerations should business be making when shopping for a backup solution? What questions should they ask before deciding on their backup options?
One issue of particular importance right now is assessing whether an online backup provider is likely to still be around a few years down the line. Over the past year we've seen lots of providers close down their services or go out of business, leaving customers to quickly and inconveniently switch to a new solution.
Solid testimonials from happy clients and reassurances the company is "here to stay" would be at the top of my shopping list.
What trends or innovations in the world of data backup are you following right now? Why do they interest you?
Living, as we do, in a world where data privacy is a hot topic, I'm particularly interested in the concept of "zero-knowledge backup," where strong encryption is used to the point that not even the backup company's employees could look at your data if they chose to. A number of providers are offering services like this now, and they're appealing to the increasing number of people who've had enough of online firms spying on their activity.
What is the future for how businesses manage and protect their data?
We continue to see headline-grabbing hacks very frequently, and I don't think these are going anywhere. Businesses who don't take cybersecurity seriously will one day get caught out. A good backup solution enables quick recovery but doesn't protect against reputational damage. IT security is something all self-respecting companies should be paying close attention to.
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