Your computer network is a platform to run your business applications, and it’s those applications that generate data that’s specific to your organisation.
Data will typically manifest itself in a number of forms, some less obvious;
Application data; for example transactions logged in your finance, operations, or customer management system(s); – Documents produced in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint that is stored on your network, and; – Information used by the server including user permissions, policies, and profiles In backing up data, the organisation is protecting against a wide range of eventualities. The most common of those is accidental deletion, or changes in data by staff.
The next most common is malicious attack from external threats, or from staff. Malware and Ransomware continues to grow exponentially, and it isn’t uncommon for leavers to deliberately delete mailboxes or network data.
Finally, an organisation needs to protect against theft or physical damage of equipment from fire, flood or simply from part failure. Data backups are generally designed with two criteria in mind; RPO; Recovery Point Objective; ideally, what is the maximum amount of time between the disaster and the last backup, and; RTO; Recovery Time Objective; how long would it take to recover that data from the backup. For example, the organisation may set the RPO to be no more than one hour in the past, and may set the RTO as one day from a full disaster.
“During testing of our back up HB Tech noted that a restoration of the data would take up to 48 hours. On reviewing our data we identified that not all this data was required so we instructed HB Tech to reconfigure our network drives and backup so that in a disaster our critical information can be restored in under 24 hours, while non-critical data can follow after”. Richard Douglas, Associate Director at Pro Vison Planning and Design
Another critical element is that back up data is stored away from the primary data. For example, a backup executed and stored on a device next to the server does not offer any protection from fire or flood. In designing a backup solution, we take in to account the critical nature of the data, the resources available, and the location of the data. It is important to recognise that cloud based data is typically no safer, than data based in an office – and invariably isn’t backed up. For example, in Office 365 a mailbox deleted by an administrator will be held for 30 days then permanently deleted, however there is no standard protection against a user accidentally or maliciously deleting emails from their own mailbox, and then deleting them from the ‘recovery deleted items’ folder.
So in designing a backup solution it may be that more than one backup solution is employed. For a network we would normally recommend a full server backup that is performed to a local device. This means that a full local restoration can take place in the event, for example, of a server failure. This significantly reduces the time to recover data compared to downloading it from a cloud based service. The backup is performed every hour and is fully automated.
The local backup is then replicated to the office of HB Tech to be held offsite. Backups are automatically tested daily where the backup software will mount the backup, take a screenshot and then email it to our team or client.
Testing of backups is absolutely critical, and so many organisation’s don’t do it. As well as ongoing monitoring and low level testing of the backup we recommend that a full network recovery is performed at least every six months. We perform that from our own offsite backup, as in the event of a disaster it is likely an organisation will be relying on their offsite backup. An hourly backup of data and one day restoration will be suitable for most organisations, however what are the options for more immediate recovery? At that point, the organisation may consider moving all critical services to a cloud based environment whereby all data is stored in a data centre with multiple points of failure. It is important to note, in that scenario that the method for recovery is technically very similar to recovery on your own site.
Irrespective of where your network resides a Disaster Recovery service; – Still uses redundant hardware; – Can often take as long to recover as a local Disaster Recovery plan, and; – Relies on the technical team to recover quickly, and fully It is normal therefore for data to be held on client owned equipment and a disaster recovery option, often client owned to be located in a data centre.
Moreover, hosting your data in the cloud places greater emphasis on the communication and firewall infrastructure where the users reside. For example, for 20 users working in an office where the network is cloud based will create it’s own disaster if the internet fails and isn’t repaired for a couple of days.
In conclusion, data backup and recovery is one of the most important tasks we perform at HB Tech. Client’s have different requirements based on the importance of their data, and the impact of a disaster, and so backup strategies are tailored to the client needs. It is wrong to assume that storing data and applications in the cloud negates the need for a backup strategy.
Most importantly, wherever your data is located and whatever your backup strategy, it is imperative that it is regularly tested to give you confidence that your organisation’s data is safe.
Need some expert advice on how to best disaster proof your business?, Contact us.