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World Backup Day: tech to rely on in times of uncertainty

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/scyther5)

We are living through uncertain times, with many businesses enforcing work-from-home policies and moving most operations online. As a result, it has recently become more important than ever for companies and their IT departments to be absolutely certain that all of their data online is safe and secure. 

This World Backup Day we spoke to six industry experts about what steps businesses – and their employees – should take in order to ensure their online operations are fully backed-up, particularly in times like these.

The rise of work-from-home

“Backup and disaster recovery plans are crucial in today’s data-driven society,” says Dave Demlow, VP Product Management at Scale Computing. “Faced with ever-increasing volumes of data, along with the growing threat of ransomware, malware, and a rapidly increasing remote workforce due to the outbreak of coronavirus, IT professionals are under tremendous pressure to protect everything while ensuring production systems aren’t impacted.

"World Backup Day serves as an important reminder to raise awareness on the cruciality of data protection, backup and business continuity plans. Data loss prevention can be achieved through performing frequent backups and should be considered a high priority to individuals and businesses alike.

"Due to the increase in cyberthreats and the rapidly growing remote workforce, it’s important to secure and protect IT infrastructure with a disaster recovery plan. Implementing a recovery plan allows users to proactively prevent or recover quickly from disasters, ensuring data is safe and mission-critical business applications are available.

"Many only emphasise the currency and frequency of the recovery points, but the time it takes to recover information is just as significant. Backup and disaster recovery plans should be regularly evaluated to protect organisations from being blindsided by an incident.”

In the public sector

“The data held by organisations in the U.K. public sector is some of the most critical and sensitive data in the country,” comments Sascha Giese, Head Geek at SolarWinds. “From medical records to national defence information, the public sector is responsible for keeping all its data safe and untouchable from unauthorised users. Particularly now that organisations are more likely to use a combination of on-premises and cloud, IT teams need to be confident that all the data across all storage locations is backed up if there’s any unscheduled downtime.

“The risks of creating a backup manually without an automated solution are too great for the public sector to consider, and therefore organisations should––if they haven’t already––look to implement a cost-effective backup solution to not only manage all of this complex and sensitive data, but reduce time spent by IT teams keeping backups up to date. It’s also worth noting a backup isn’t a backup until the integration of data is verified, and the restoration process tested; neither of these can be rushed. Though adopting a backup solution means additional cost in the short-term, having this safety blanket in place will reassure millions of citizens their data is as safe as it can be.”

Written in the clouds

“93 per cent of companies that lost their data centre for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster,” reveals Eltjo Hofstee, Managing Director at Leaseweb UK. “World Backup Day is the perfect opportunity for businesses to ponder this, then ask themselves the following questions: How much time am I prepared to have mission-critical functions unavailable? How much data am I prepared to lose? How much money will it cost while these services are not available? If these questions raise concerns, it is time for a business to address its backup strategy. The most valuable assets should be prioritised and organisations need to be demanding about the quality, scalability and reliability of backup solutions.”

Eltjo continues: “Backing-up data is pivotal to a successful disaster recovery plan. Data has been backed up since the beginning of the computer age, but there have been many changes in the methods and storage technology used in this process. There has been an evolution in storage technology from tapes, to hard drives, to where we are now, which is cloud storage. One benefit of modern cloud backup solutions is that they are suitable for businesses of any size. A business and its employees can back up data to the cloud from any server or device, anywhere with an internet connection. Cloud backup solutions are easy to manage, and their providers offer hands-on customer support.”

“World Backup Day was created to remind consumers about the need to backup their most important digital files,” explains Jon Lucas, Co-Director at Hyve Managed Hosting. “But taking a business view on March 31st is just as imperative, and never has this been more clear than in today’s uncertain and digitally-reliant workplace. Few companies would argue that backups aren't worth the effort, however, every year we see stories about lost revenue and lost reputation because a backup hasn’t been there when needed.

“One of the ways sufficient backup plans can drop off the IT ‘to-do’ list is because businesses don’t have the time, resources or experience to manage it in-house. But with the cloud computing and managed service era comes a practical and affordable way forward, and working with a partner that offers backup and disaster recovery solutions can be easily built into any IT environment. So, although awareness of its importance is – for most – improving, understanding its urgency and where to go for help remains a key message this World Backup Day.”

Human error

"There are two major reasons why we should take backups seriously: Hardware failure and human error,” says Steve Cochran, Chief Technology Officer at ConnectWise. “Systems are not fool proof and every piece of hardware will fail eventually, so it’s not a question of if, but rather when, these failures will happen. If you haven’t kept up with your backups, you’ll get caught unprepared. There’s also a factor of human error where you might accidentally delete a file or photo. We put our entire lives on our computers and mobile devices, but we also make mistakes, and not having a backup system in place is almost silly at this point. While you need to dedicate some time to set up automatic backups, you don’t have to keep up with them -- they simply run in the background.

“Backing up isn’t just something we should do on a personal level. Hardware failures and human errors happen on a global scale, so backups should be an important consideration for any business, large or small. When you back up your data, your business is better prepared to handle any situation, whether human error, natural disaster or global crisis. With backups in place, you’re proactive, which means your data is safe and you’re prepared to address problems immediately, which minimises the impact on your customers."

Moving with the times

“Back in 2011, World Backup Day was initiated in order to remind us how essential it is to have a copy of our data and information,” concludes Gijsbert Janssen van Doorn, Technology Evangelist at Zerto. “But, while the day has only grown in significance over the years, backup technology has barely begun to evolve. From tape, to hard drive and now cloud – which is really just tape in many cases – the target and management has changed, yet it is still fundamentally based on periodic snapshots of information.

“But in our ‘always-on’ business landscape, and especially in times of crisis like we are currently experiencing, can an organisation still be truly protected with an antiquated backup strategy?

“The short answer is – it can’t. Data should be protected by continuous replication, which makes sure that every change, update and added piece of data is always available. This gives the reassurance that all data is protected up to a moment before anything disrupts it. If your organisation doesn’t have a solid strategy and supporting tactical plan in place, now is the time to implement one.”

IT Experts