Backups - strategy and best practises
Published 1 December 2021
Building a backup strategy and applying best practices will ensure that reliable backups are there in case you ever need them.
Data backup strategy best practices start with keeping data in a secure location that can be readily accessed. The site for data backups should ideally be in a separate location or a Cloud service.
In a situation requiring systems and data recovery, backup strategy will impact how quickly and easily operations can be brought back online.
Enabling a backup strategy helps protect data losses due to hardware failure, natural disaster, file corruption, malware, or malicious users. It provides guidance on how to set up the suitable systems and processes to minimize time spent trying to recover files and systems.
Seven best practises:
1. Consider the retention span
Suitable retention times should be established for data backups. Retention schedules should map to backup schedules. For instance, keep hourly and daily backups for a week, weekly backups for a month, and monthly backups for a few months or even for years.
2. Document policies and procedures
Backup policies should be clearly documented. These should cover an explanation of goals and strategies, specifics about what tools and processes are used, roles and responsibilities, backup timing, and retention schedules.
3. Keep backups encrypted and protected
In addition to the security of backup locations (i.e., cloud, physical), encrypting the data in transit and at rest provides additional data protection.
4. Make backups frequently and regularly
Data backups should be performed regularly, although the frequency may not be the same for all data. Some data may be backed up on an ongoing basis. Other backups may be performed on a periodic basis—daily, nightly, or weekly. Assess how often the data changes and the appropriate intervals for the case.
5. Perform regular recovery tests
Data backup tests should be performed periodically— this is how you can be comfortable that when they are needed, they will work. Backups should be tested by completing restores on at least a semi-annual basis. In some cases, organisations may wish to lower this interval. Any failures need to be remedied and retested without any delay.
6. Use a 3-2-1 strategy
Add extra layers of redundancy for data backups by using a 3-2-1 data backup strategy. The 3-2-1 backup strategy ensures multiple copies of data are backed up and retained.
One - Keep three copies of data, the original data copy, and at least two backups.
Two - Use two different storage types. For instance, if data is stored on an internal hard drive, use a secondary device such as an external drive or cloud source.
Three - Keep one copy of data offsite.
7. Use Remote Storage
Remote backups are a must. The ideal is to have backups offsite, but, at a minimum, they should be on a separate system. Data backup can be conducted in the Cloud or on a dedicated physical server.