Questions 4 IT - Backups

There are 4 common scenarios where you need to recover your data from backup and understanding a few fundamentals is important.

In each scenario, you need to answer the following;

  1. Can I recover this data?
  2. Will I lose anything?
  3. How long will it take?

As a business owner you should know the answers to these questions. Your IT support, whether in-house or external, may be making assumptions about the backups that are different from yours. For example, they may consider 1 day to recover a server as pretty quick, but to you that might be a disaster.

So, let’s look at the recovery scenarios. You need to apply the questions above to each.

Accidental data loss.

This is typically when a member of staff deletes or overwrites a file or folder or corrupts data in such a way that a recovery from backup is the only response.

You should be able to recover this data from a number of sources ideally (e.g. shadow copies, onsite backup, offsite backup) and for a period of time since deletion (you may not notice a deleted folder for some months).

Email data loss

Mailboxes are increasingly used as a storage area, but the data within them can be challenging to back up. If an email, email folder or entire mailbox is deleted, would your backup systems be able to restore that data without restoring the email data for the entire company? Granular backups of your email are what’s required to do this.

Total system failure

Whether a server failure or a site wide shutdown (such as a fire or flood), your backups need to be able to recreate the environment as well as the data in order that your company can continue to function.

New equipment may need to be sourced and your backups need to be structured in order that different hardware can be used. How long this takes will determine the cost to the business of the inevitable downtime.

Deliberate data loss

Any data that is accessible on your network is vulnerable. Infections or attacks that target your data deliberately, such as a ransomware attack, will also attempt to target your backup stores. A ransom attempt can only be successful if you cannot go back to your backups.

So check that there is proper separation between your live data and your backups and ensure that there are historical copies of your backup. Having all of your data in a cloud service is not a backup. An infection of a cloud-synchronised folder will cause data loss and only a historical backup of that cloud data will save you.

How often you take backups and where you store them needs to be considered when asking your backup questions.

So to summarise. Look at each scenario and then ask the same questions;

  1. Can I recover?
  2. Will I lose anything?
  3. How long will it take?

Then, if this points up any holes in your strategy, ask your IT support for a plan to plug them.