Every year on March 31, World Backup Day raises awareness of the importance of backing up data as well as preparing against data loss. Data backup is critical for every individual and business, but only 24% of people and 36% of organizations complete backups regularly. Furthermore, 68% of organizations reported losing critical business data due to a lack of data backups. World Backup Day is a good reminder to keep sensitive and important information safe from increasing cyber threats, theft, hardware crashes, and accidents.
Regularly backing up personal and business data may seem like a tedious task, but the world spends more time on devices now than ever before. It’s estimated that data creation doubles every 18 months, and this only increases the likelihood of disastrous attacks from cybercriminals, from personal photos and videos to critical business and customer information. However, data backups provide a simple and straightforward solution to these risks.
In this blog post, we’re covering the top reasons why everyone should back up their data and three tips for effective data backups to protect your organization’s critical information.
What is a data backup?
A data backup is a process of making copies of your organization’s most critical data and sending it to a secure, protected archive at an offsite location. This data can include financial statements, employee information, customer contact and account information, and other business-critical documents. A data backup coupled with a data recovery plan in case of data loss—from cyberattacks, human error, natural disasters, or something else—means that data can quickly be restored without much difficulty. With data quickly and effectively recovered after an incident, your organization can continue day-to-day operations without a significant loss in company revenue or employee productivity.
Why should you back up data?
Routine data backups have several clear benefits, from minimizing extra work to avoiding disastrous data loss to giving everyone peace of mind. Data backups also mean quick recoveries for organizations, whether data loss occurred due to an employee error or a cyberattack. This ensures that the business does not experience downtime in daily operations or experience reputation loss associated with deleted, stolen, or misplaced customer data.
Data backup also reduces complications if an organization undergoes an audit. All regulatory, financial, and accounting data can be readily accessible to regulators and tax authorities. Similarly, backing up data also means that historical and current data is available for reporting. Having this information for analysis can greatly improve data-driven decision-making for company leaders and also provides a point of reference and comparison.
Three tips for an effective data backup
Data backups do not have to be difficult or time-consuming. In fact, they are often automated by organizations to ensure data is continuously archived offsite without additional work for security or IT. To get started with an effective data backup plan, follow these tips:
Tip #1: Know your backup options
Data backups come in many forms, including local network backups, offsite backups to the cloud, and physical storage backups. Depending on your organization’s needs, you may benefit from using one or several of these options. However, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each option before making a decision.
Local backups are convenient, less expensive, and easy to access, but can be vulnerable to natural disasters (such as fires or flooding) or human error. Cloud backups require no additional hardware, with automated backups completed frequently and from anywhere. Cloud-based solutions pose challenges if internet connectivity is lost or storage has data limits. Physical offsite backups have the least risk for cybersecurity threats but are vulnerable to theft, natural disasters, and technical issues or failure.
Pro Tip: If backing up data offsite, be sure to trust your data only to reliable and secure data centers. FormAssembly completes data backups hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, biannually, and yearly to state-of-the-art data centers hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Tip #2: Decide which data to back up
Your organization, no matter the size or industry, should be routinely backing up all data related to employees and customers, administrative documents, and financial and accounting records. This data should also include specific sales and marketing information and other critical documents, such as business plans, building leases, and insurance policies. With everyone on the same page about what data needs to be backed up each time, it will be easier to pull or recover data from the archives when needed.
With how sensitive and private certain types of data can be, it’s clear that you should only trust your offsite data backups to reputable and secure data centers or systems. Do your research to learn which data centers have advanced physical and virtual security as well as the tools they use to back up, store, and recover data. Be sure you also understand their data backup processes, security protocols, and access restrictions before trusting your organization’s data to them.
Pro Tip: When you need to gather sensitive data from customers, prospects, or employees, be sure to invest in a secure data collection platform that prioritizes data protection. FormAssembly has robust security and compliance standards for web forms as well as data backup policies.
Tip #3: Develop a data backup plan
Next, it’s important that you not only back up data but have a well-developed strategy for safeguarding this important information. A data backup plan ensures that your organization has a step-by-step process for keeping data safe and ensuring business continuity in case of data loss. Many organizations follow the 3-2-1 backup strategy, which involves completing three data backups where two copies are secured separately onsite and one copy is stored in a data center offsite.
Best practices to follow for data backups also include routinely testing offsite backup systems to ensure no technical issues arise. Additionally, it is a good idea to consistently monitor backup processes to confirm they are working as intended. If an incident does arise, your team will be aware of the problem immediately and be able to take the proper steps toward data recovery.
Pro Tip: Data backup plans should be combined with other cybersecurity protocols and recovery plans. In addition to data backups, FormAssembly has established an Incident Response Policy, Disaster Recovery plan, and Business Continuity plan.
Keep your data protected
Data backup and recovery plans do take effort to maintain and monitor. However, prioritizing these policies can save your organization from disastrous data loss that can affect customer privacy, business continuity, reputation, and even revenue. Following the three tips above can help keep your organization’s data secure and your business goals on track. To stay ahead of the curve with data protection and security awareness, check out our webinar, 5 Cybersecurity Trends You Need to Know About (and How to Stay Protected).