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Apr 07 2021

Beginners Guide To Backups

Backups ensure that your important data will survive any of the common hazards. Too often, individuals and companies suffer from having their server hardware fail, destroyed by a natural disaster, deleted, or even worse crypto-malware attacks. Most businesses can recover from almost any disaster except for the loss of data. In this post, we will provide a complete rundown of backups including an explanation of why backups are important, 3 terms related to backups that you should know, how to back up properly, and 5 tips and reminders for backups.  

What are Backups (and Why Does it Matter)? 

A backup or data backup is a copy of computer data taken and stored elsewhere so that it may be used to restore the original after a data loss event. Backups ensure that an individual or organization’s data is protected from natural and man-made events such as server hardware failure, accidental or malicious deletion, crypto-malware attacks, and water or fire damage. Data loss is one of the biggest causes of downtime for a company. And downtime comes at a hefty price. Depending on the size of the organization, the cost per hour of downtime is anywhere from $10,000 to over $5 million. When data becomes inaccessible for any reason, operations can come to a halt. Having accessible backups is extremely important to reduce downtime. Also, if your business collects and saves client information, having backups can save your organization’s reputation if disaster strikes. 

Terms to Know: 

1. Recovery Time Objective (RTO) 

Refers to the time it takes to recover from a backup. Specifically, it answers the question, how long can we be without access to our data before the impact on our organization is too great?  
The calculation of this objective will depend on industry-specific factors, regulatory compliance, and business uptime requirements of a given organization. 

2. Recovery Point Objective (RPO) 

Refers to the maximum permitted amount of data loss when an incident occurs. The set amount your business can tolerate losing in a data disaster. This metric helps determine how often you need to back up data, and the infrastructure you need to have in place. The calculation of this objective will depend on industry-specific factors, regulatory compliance, and business uptime requirements of a given organization. 

3. Backup Retention Policy  

Refers to the depth of time we can recover data from. The deeper the retention the further back in time we can recover lost data. Some organizations may have regulatory requirements for how long data is kept.  

How to Backup Data Properly  

Follow a simple 3-2-1 Backup model to protect you from losing your critical data. This method is recommended as a good start in building a way to protect your data that keeps you well prepared from loss and to control risks in unexpected situations. Storing copies of data in multiple locations ensures that your data is safe and there is no single point of failure.  

The method is to keep at least three (3) copies of data and store two (2) copies on different media types and keep one (1) copy located off-site.  

Keep 3 copies of data. Having one copy of data is not enough because it is possible that the copy could be stolen, destroyed in a fire, or held for ransom. The more copies you have, the less chance you lose all of your data at once.  

Store 2 backup copies on different devices or storage media types. All hard drives will eventually fail so having two different devices to store your data can reduce the risk of the same media type failing at the same time. An example of storage media you may consider using is external hard drives, the cloud (like Microsoft AzureBackup), or a Network Attached Storage (NAS).  

Keep at least 1 copy of data backup offsite. By doing this, you can protect your data from a local disaster that could potentially destroy your data. Having a backup copy offsite can provide faster and simpler recovery.  

5 Tips and Reminders for Backups 

1. Backups should be monitored 24×7 

There is no 100% guarantee that your backups are being done correctly when you rely on technology alone. Hard drive disks fail so there is always a human component to making sure backups are correct and up to date. Therefore, you need to have someone in your business or an outsourced IT Partner that monitors your backups 24/7. Monitoring includes testing these backups to make sure they work.   

2. Data storage solutions are unique to each organization’s needs 

Each organization will have a data storage solution that is best suited for their business. The type and size of storage needed are dependent on how much data the organization must store. Questions to ask before choosing a way to back up your data is “how much data are you storing?”. Whether it is onsite at one of your locations or offsite with a third-party partner, knowing the answer to this question can help your organization choose the best option for where to store your backups.   

3. Enterprise Image-Level Software can expedite the data recovery process 

Enterprise Image-level software can cut down recovery time by putting data into one place, instead of data residing in several, disconnected data silos. With reliable backups, this can simplify the workflow to get things back up and running after a disaster strikes.  

4. A Backup Failure Response Team can save your business  

Without the right people, disaster recovery can fail. Having a team that understands how to responds to backup failures can help your business continuity. A backup failure team can identify where the failure started and take the necessary steps to fix it.   

5. Disaster Recovery Planning can minimize the effects of a data loss disaster 

Threats are never 100% gone even with every preventative step in place therefore having a plan to recover data after a disaster strikes can minimize downtime and encourage business continuity. Having a disaster recovery plan in place will minimize a business’s risk of losing important data.


Now you know what backups are and why they are important! Most organizations can recover from almost any disaster except for the loss of data. Backups ensure that an organization’s data is protected from natural and man-made events.

Contact us to request a free discovery consultation with one of our team members to discuss your backups and the technology in your business.

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