Losing precious data is a fear shared by both businesses and individuals – nobody likes to think that their important files, photos, and documents could be gone in an instant.
Backups are the answer, but unfortunately, many still overlook the importance of backing up data or make careless mistakes when doing so.
Failing to back up your data can lead to disaster, especially for businesses. The good news is that with the right techniques and tools in place, it’s entirely possible to protect your data from any kind of system disruption or disaster.
In this article, I’ll discuss seven common backup mistakes that you need to watch out for plus some tips on how to avoid them so you can keep your data safe and secure.
Table of Contents
Mistake #1: Not Backing Up Your Data Regularly
One of the most common backup mistakes is not backing up your data regularly. Without a data backup schedule, you may be at risk of losing important information in case of a system failure or cyber-attack. According to a survey by Clutch.co, 58% of small businesses do not have a disaster recovery plan, meaning they may not have a backup of their data.
To avoid this mistake, establish a backup frequency that works for your business needs. If your data changes frequently, you may need to back up daily or even several times per day. If your data changes less frequently, weekly or bi-weekly backups may be sufficient. Keep in mind that you also need to consider data retention or how long you will keep your backups. This will depend on your industry and compliance regulations.
Backup automation can help ensure backups occur on a regular basis without human intervention. Cloud backup solutions such as Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform offer automated backup options that can simplify this process.
Mistake #2: Not Testing Your Backups
One of the most common backup mistakes is not testing your backups regularly. Many businesses rely on the set it and forget it approach when it comes to backups, assuming that their data is secure without verifying it. However, this can lead to a false sense of security and leave you at great risk in the event of a data loss. It’s important to remember that a backup is only as good as its ability to be restored. Without regular testing, you could be left with corrupt or incomplete backups that aren’t useful in a disaster scenario.
To ensure the reliability of your backups, it’s essential to establish a routine testing schedule. This will help you identify any potential issues with your backup and restoration process in a controlled environment. You can use testing tools to conduct backup verification and test restores to ensure your data is recoverable. It’s also important to test your backups after any major system or software updates to ensure their continued compatibility and accuracy.
Mistake #3: Relying on Only One Backup Location
Relying on only one backup location is another common mistake that can put your data at risk. Having multiple backups in different locations is necessary to ensure that you always have access to your data, even if one backup fails or is compromised.
When selecting backup locations, consider both physical and virtual options. Physical backups can include external hard drives or tape drives stored offsite or in a secure location. Virtual backups can include cloud backups or network-attached storage (NAS) devices that provide remote access to your data from anywhere.
It’s also important to consider the pros and cons of each backup location option. For example, cloud backups offer convenience and accessibility but may not be suitable for sensitive data due to potential privacy concerns. Physical backups, on the other hand, may offer more security and control but can be vulnerable to theft or damage.
Mistake #4: Not Securing Your Backups
When it comes to backups, securing them is just as important as creating them in the first place. Failing to secure your backups can lead to data breaches and even loss of critical information. Here are some common backup security mistakes to avoid:
- Lack of Backup Encryption: Encryption is one of the most effective ways to secure your backups. Without encryption, your data can easily fall into the wrong hands.
- No Backup Password Protection: Password protection adds an extra layer of security to your backups. Make sure to use strong passwords and keep them safe.
- Weak Backup Access Control: Limiting access to your backups to authorized personnel is essential to prevent unauthorized access.
- Not Having a Backup Security Plan: A backup security plan is crucial to ensure that your backups are protected in case of emergency, disaster, or theft.
- Shoddy Backup Storage: Storing backups in inappropriate locations can make them vulnerable to theft or damage. Always choose secure and reliable backup storage options.
- Failing to Regularly Test Restores: Testing backups will help identify vulnerabilities and ensure that your data is recoverable when needed.
Mistake #5: Not Including All Important Data in Your Backups
One of the most common backup mistakes that individuals and businesses make is not including all important data in their backups. This can lead to significant data losses in the event of a disaster or hardware failure. The following are some common reasons for not including all important data in backups:
1. Data Selection
Carefully choose the data that you back up. Many times, people forget to include important files because they are not in standard folders or directories. It is important to be thorough when selecting data to be backed up.
2. Data Exclusions
Be aware of data exclusions in your backup policies. Often, certain file types, directories, or drives are excluded from the backup process. Review your policies to ensure that important data is not being left out.
3. Backup Coverage
It is important to have backup coverage for all systems and devices that store important data. This may include both onsite and offsite backups, as well as backups for mobile devices or cloud-based data.
4. Backup Completeness
Verify that your backups are complete and error-free at regular intervals. Backups that are incomplete or contain errors will not be useful in the event of a data loss.
It is essential to include all important data in your backups to avoid data losses. By ensuring that you have a comprehensive backup strategy that covers all systems and devices and reviewing your policies regularly, you can avoid making common backup mistakes that could put your data at risk.
Mistake #6: Not Having a Disaster Recovery Plan
One of the companies’ most critical and common backup mistakes is not having a disaster recovery plan. Disaster recovery planning is a key component of any comprehensive backup strategy, as it ensures that your business can recover quickly in the face of a catastrophe. Without a disaster recovery plan, companies risk losing critical data and even going out of business altogether due to prolonged downtime.
To avoid this mistake, companies should create a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy that includes regular backups, offsite storage, and clear procedures for restoring data and systems after a disaster. Organizations should also conduct disaster preparedness training and regularly review their disaster response plans to ensure they are up-to-date and effective.
It is also essential to test the disaster recovery plan regularly to identify any potential issues or challenges that may arise in the event of a real disaster. As Mark Bower, the Vice President of Product Management at Voltage Security, points out: “The best disaster recovery plans will almost always fall short of expectations without regular testing and updating.”
Mistake #7: Not Updating Your Backup Strategy
Having a backup strategy in place is crucial for safeguarding your data, but it’s not a one-and-done process. As your business evolves, so should your backup strategy. It’s a common but costly mistake to assume that the backup policy you implemented years ago is still sufficient today.
Evolution of Backup Technology
Over the years, backup technology has evolved to offer newer, better, and more efficient ways of protecting data. With the increase in data growth, backup technology has been forced to adapt and offer scalable and flexible solutions. Failing to update your backup strategy can lead to using outdated technology that might be insufficient to meet your current backup needs.
Updating Your Backup Policy
In addition to updating your backup technology, you also need to review and update your backup policy regularly. A backup policy is a set of rules to help you manage your backup process, including scheduling, securing your data, and verifying your backups. A backup policy that was created years ago might not be in line with your current requirements and, as such, might not offer the best protection for your data.
Some of the key mistakes made when not updating your backup strategy include failing to consider data growth and changes in your business needs. Additionally, not keeping abreast of new backup technologies and failing to review and update your backup policy increase the likelihood of data loss.
Wrapping It Up
Backups are an important part of any business, but they don’t have to be complicated or expensive to manage. In fact, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure your data is always safe. Make a regular backup of your critical data. This could include your website, databases, email accounts, and other important files. Set up a policy for backing up your data. This will help you to stick to a schedule and track your progress.
Use a reliable backup solution. There are many free and paid options available, so choose the one that best suits your needs. Keep your backups safe. Make sure they are stored in a secure location and accessible only to you. Test your backup system regularly. Make sure that your data is actually backed up and that the backup process is working as it should. Be prepared to restore your data if something goes wrong.