Data Backup – Why is it important?

Companies and people are very dependent on data. Whereas a person cannot survive without air, water, and food, businesses cannot survive without data. Forty percent of companies that do not have proper backup or disaster recovery plans in place do not survive a disaster.

Every company must designate a Backup Administrator to handle the entire backup strategy, including backup solutions and tools; the backup scope, schedule, and infrastructure; the network and storage, recovery time objectives (RTOs), recovery point objectives (RPOs), etc.

It is extremely important that your company has a backup strategy and solution in place. Otherwise, you can be a statistic.

Data Backup – What to Back Up?

The Backup Administrator’s primary initial task is to understand, define, and manage what data to back up and protect. To reduce the risk of data loss, you want to back up files and databases, but you also want to back up your operating systems, applications, configuration — everything you can. If you use virtualization, you want to back up your hosts and management console, not just your virtual machines (VMs). If you use a cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), you want to include that in your scope. And, don’t forget mobile devices — your CEO’s tablet could hold critical company data that can be more important than the data stored on some of your servers.

Revisit your backup scope every time you change the infrastructure. New devices, solutions, services all use data. Your mantra is “back up everything, back up often.”

Data Backup – RPO and RTO

Once you decide on the scope of your backups, the next important decision is how often you need to back up and define a backup schedule. Your colleagues are constantly changing data, and in the event of a disaster, all the data created from the latest backup to the moment of failure will be lost. This period is called the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) — the maximum period that you are willing to lose data on your systems because of an event.

Many small and medium-sized companies usually define an RPO of 24 hours, which means you need to back up daily. With modern backup solutions, you can implement RPOs as short as a few minutes. You can also have tiered RPOs — shorter RPOs for critical systems, and longer RPOs for secondary systems.

Another important variable is recovery time objective (RTO) — how fast you can recover from the moment of a disaster to the moment you return to normal operations. When systems are down, your company loses money and you need to recover fast to minimize losses. However, as with RPO, a shorter RTO requires faster storage, networks, and technologies – so it is more expensive. For many companies, an RTO of few hours is the norm.

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