Data Backups Best Practices
Interested in learning data backup best practices?
The topic should be at the forefront of every MSP's mind since data disasters can strike at any time — and for a number of reasons. Hard drives can crash. Employees can click on malware, triggering a wave of infections across a network. Server rooms can catch fire.
The threats are many. And that’s why data backups are so crucial.
Backup and Recovery: The Stakes Are High
Before learning data backup best practices, it’s important to consider why developing a comprehensive backup strategy is so important.
First the bad news. Data breaches have grown more and more common. In 2015, there were more than 2,000 confirmed breaches internationally that resulted in data loss. They affect every industry. And they can strike any organization, no matter their size.
Breaches occur when potentially sensitive information has been stolen, viewed or used by someone who’s not authorized to do so. This data can include sensitive personally identifiable information, as well as valuable pieces of intellectual property. Breaches may expose sensitive data and harm individuals, but they can also result in data loss that hurts an organization.
This kind of risk is pervasive. In a global survey, 35 percent of organizations reported that they had permanently lost data during an outage. Even more striking? More than 70 percent of those same organizations were found to be ill-prepared for a data disaster.
These incidents have major financial and organizational ramifications. Data breaches present a jaw-dropping cost: about $4 million on average. Those costs can skyrocket for industries subject to strict governmental regulations, such as healthcare and finance.
But the cost is more than just financial. Data loss can have consequences within an organization, too. When employees save files on shared network drives, they offer the implicit trust that their data is secure. A public presentation may have taken weeks of one employee’s time. But a data loss threatens to wipe out those hours of productivity. And with that lost time, organizations may see a dampening of morale, as employees struggle to recreate their lost efforts.
Data backups are crucial to defending against these costs, IT experts agree. It’s much easier — and more efficient — to spend time backing up data, rather than to risk any loss.
So what are some important data backup best practices and considerations?
On-site Vs. Off-site Storage
Some organizations may opt to back up their data with on-site storage. This involves regular backups on physical media. These backups may take place at planned intervals or irregularly, with administrators backing up data manually.
With offsite backups, administrators upload data to remote storage centers at regular intervals. Remote applications often handle the management of this process, with a large degree of automation. Software — rather than manual efforts — run the show, and identify the files and folders that need to be backed up.
This automation is crucial, and it’s one reason that remote storage is considered a best practice. Another reason: with remote and cloud-based storage, organizations save on equipment costs, including any maintenance costs. That’s especially important for smaller organizations — the kinds of which MSPs tend to work with.
Additionally, remote backups tend to be more secure, since a third-party vendor can be solely dedicated to those servers.
Types of Backups
One key consideration is the type of data backups. Most fall into three categories: full backups, differential backups and incremental backups.
Full backups offer a complete copy of data. For this kind of data backup, best practices dictate that full backups are run only periodically because they’re the most storage intensive. This may be at the end of every day or week, depending on the specific needs of the organization.
Differential backups require that administrators first perform a full backup. Differential backups then build upon these full backups, copying and storing newer data, including every update made since the original data was backed up. Running differential backups can be a key tool for MSPs since they preserve updates in data while demanding fewer resources than a full backup.
Incremental backups are the least resource intensive of the three. Incremental backups begin with a full backup and only copy the newest data since the previous incremental backup. It's unlike a differential backup, which backs up all of the new data since the original full backup.
The blend of full, differential and incremental backups will vary for every organization, depending on the organization’s needs and network resources. In conversations with organizational leaders, MSPs should communicate the costs and benefits of these backup strategies, and implement a disaster-recovery plan that’s tailored to their clients.
Backing Up BYOD
Another data-backup best practice: backing up files that live outside the office. Nearly three-quarters of employers offer support — or plan to support — bring-your-own-device policies. These policies allow employees to use their own devices at work. Increased mobility has proven to be a boon for employers, who have seen employee productivity jump alongside the adoption of BYOD policies.
BYOD policies also present a data-loss risk. Because of this, MSPs need to account for all that data — on cell phones, tablets, laptops and home computers — and work alongside organizational leaders to make sure that the data gets backed up.
All resources are finite, and data storage is no different. This is especially true for local storage. For organizations using local storage, MSPs must help decide which data is the highest priority — and thus most important to back up — using limited hard drive space. Often, a weekly full backup may be most appropriate. Certain kinds of files or databases, though, may be higher priorities, and may require more regular backups.
Resource limitations are a different question in the cloud. With massive data centers, cloud-based storage eliminates many of the restrictions imposed by local, physical storage. Hard drive space just isn’t the same kind of limitation.
Rather, the consideration is cost; many cloud-storage companies charge by the gigabyte of data stored. So, even though organizations may not face physical constraints, cloud storage still imposes financial difficulties and require that MSPs help their clients to prioritize data.
A Comprehensive Backup Solution for MSPs
Finding the right backup solution can be tricky considering the complexity of data backup practices. From backup types to data priorities, MSPs have their hands full.
Fortunately, there’s a solution on the market that’s won the praise of MSPs and other IT professionals. It simplifies decision-making and allows for rapid backups and recoveries.
We’re talking abou SolarWinds MSP's (formerly LOGICnow) MSP Backup & Recovery.
- Unbreakable, continuous recovery
- Customizable data archiving
- Hybrid onsite-cloud backups
- Fast backup windows
- Layered redundancies to preserve data
- Brick-level Exchange restores
- And much more
Keep Customer Organizations Running
Downtime and data loss can be catastrophic for a business. With MSP Backup & Recovery, you can keep business operating as usual with:
- Rapid Backups. MSP Backup & Recovery backs up data at the block level with True Delta. With lightweight backups, you can back up more and easily preserve data for a potential recovery.
- Rapid recovery. It’s not just the backup; we keep businesses up and running with our unparalleled restores. After an outage, get up and running in minutes with recovery to both physical and virtual servers.
- Accelerated backups for large files. Our restores thump the competition, with 60 to 80 percent faster backups of large files compared to file-level backups. And with True Delta support of large files, SQL Server backups are as fast as backups of smaller files.
- Virtual system support. SolarWinds MSP natively supports Hyper-V and VMware ESX platforms.
Some organizations prefer cloud-based storage. Our data centers offer 24-hour data protection and are all either ISO-certified or SSAE-compliant.
But we also offer bulletproof support for organizations that prefer to manage their own infrastructure. Our software-only solution includes:
- True Delta. Deep duplication and compression provide you speedier backup windows.
- Virtual server recoveries. Facing an outage? Our software-only solution allows you to restore at any time from an up-to-date, standby virtual server.
- Bare metal recoveries. If the needs arise, you can quickly — and efficiently — restore to the bare metal.
- Wide protection. Back up data from workstations, physical servers or virtual servers.
Hybrid Cloud Storage
It’s the best of both worlds.
With hybrid cloud recovery, you can maintain local disk backups in-house while still relying on the security of the cloud. Features include:
- Perfect syncing. Never worry about mismatches between local storage and the cloud. MSP Backup & Recovery keeps these two backup systems perfectly synced, saving you from hours of work.
- Back up across multiple devices. Your local storage tier can include USB drives, network attached storage, network share or a user’s machine.
- Automated recoveries. When disaster strikes, you don’t have to fret. MSP Backup & Recovery automatically selects the fastest recovery source for your users, whether it’s local or in the cloud.
Total Control Over Files
For data backups, best practices stipulate that you should maintain granular control over your data. SolarWinds MSP delivers here, too. With file versioning, you can keep as many backups as you need — for as long as long as you need them.
File versioning offers:
- Customizable storage. You can easily override default storage rules and retain a set number of backups for specific files.
- Total visibility. Our powerful, all-in-one web console allows you to monitor backups across your clients’ networks.
- Support across platforms. SolarWinds MSP supports files across operating systems, giving you the power to work with diverse networks.
Give It a Test Run
Implementing data-backups’ best practices can be a challenge. And time-consuming. But it doesn’t have to be.
See how MSP Backup & Recovery can safeguard customer data — and simplify your life — with our risk-free, 30-day trial. The best part? It only takes 10 minutes to get up and running.
About SolarWinds MSP
SolarWinds MSP (formerly LOGICnow) delivers the only 100% SaaS, fully cloud-based IT service management (ITSM) platform, backed by collective intelligence and the highest levels of layered security. SolarWinds MSP’s products including Risk Intelligence, Remote Management, Backup & Disaster Recovery, Mail and Service Desk – comprise the market’s most widely trusted integrated solution.
Deployed on millions of endpoints across hundreds of thousands of networks, the platform has the industry vision to define and deliver the future of the market. SolarWinds MSP provides the most comprehensive IT security available as well as LOGICcards, the first ever IT notification feature powered by prescriptive analytics and machine learning.
SolarWinds MSP’s passion is helping IT professionals secure and manage their systems and data through actionable insights, rewriting the rules of IT.
For more information, visit www.solarwindsmsp.com.
Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council: http://drbenchmark.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/ANNUAL_REPORT-DRPBenchmark_Survey_Results_2014_report.pdf
Big Data Made Simple: http://bigdata-madesimple.com/5-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-cloud-storage/