Best Practices for Backing Up Data at Work and at Home

Keeping secure backups of your data is a must. Here are our recommendations.

Our computers and smartphones are more powerful than ever, so we use them for almost everything we do. Because of this, we store more data on them than ever before.

Most of us have lost personal data and know how frustrating it is. Data loss in the workplace can be catastrophic — and even bring a company to bankruptcy. That makes a smart backup plan essential.

Here’s how to back up your data in the home and in the workplace.

Home Backup

1. Back up your personal files. You can back up your operating system and programs too, if you prefer.

2. Choose on-site or off-site backup, or both. Also, consider automating the process.

On-site backup can be as simple as attaching an external drive to your Mac and using the TimeMachine program to automatically sync data. Windows also has auto backup for external hard drives.

Off-site backups have different advantages. For instance, if you use an external drive for backup and your home was broken into and your computer stolen, likely the backup drive would be as well because it’s right there with the computer. Off-site backup protects your data from such a situation or from a disaster in your home.

Off-site can mean leaving a backup external hard drive in another secure location or using a cloud-based service, such as Google, Amazon, DropBox or Carbonite.

“There are many products like Google Drive and other cloud-based software solutions that are great for holding data,” says Rishi Sood, Affinity Technology’s Vice President of Operations. “Or your backup plan can be as simple as buying an external hard drive and copying data to it on a regular schedule, such as weekly or monthly, and storing it in another location. Consider using an external drive, like Lenovo’s ThinkPad Secure Hard Drive, which is encrypted and locked with a keypad so that others can’t access it.”

3. Consider encrypting sensitive data, such as tax records, on your local machine. Windows 10 Professional includes BitLocker (which encrypts your computer’s files) for free. For those not running Windows Pro at home, another option is VeraCrypt. Apple operating systems include FileVault disk encryption, while Linux’s Ubuntu uses LUKS (Linux Unified Key Setup) to encrypt the hard drive.

In the Workplace

Backing up business data is more complicated and even more vital than personal data because losing business data can bring the business to a halt.

“Generally speaking,” Rishi says, “each business is going to have an RPO (recovery point objective) and an RTO (recovery time objective) that is unique to them. The RPO is the frequency of the backup, whether that’s every 24 hours or more often. The RTO refers to how much time it will take to perform a recovery, replace the machines or servers if necessary and get the recovery data back onto the servers/machines.”

When it comes to protecting your business, a common pitfall is not validating the backup process.

“Validation is a huge part of a backup strategy,” Rishi explains. “What is the plan to get backup hardware to your business, and how long for the new equipment to arrive? How long to get the data transferred from the backup to the systems? We at Affinity Technology simulate an outage and determine how much downtime occurs and if that’s the expected amount. That’s part of the service that a business should be receiving from their IT company or IT department.”

Rishi points out that some clients can’t afford to have any downtime ever because it would be catastrophic. Accordingly, Affinity builds the backup plan to ensure that there isn’t any downtime.

Affinity works with each client to determine what processes must be running at all times as part of a bigger conversation about business continuity and disaster recovery.

Affinity generally backs up clients’ data both on-site and off-site every four to 12 hours, but it could be as frequent as every 15 minutes.

An on-site backup will make restoration faster. “If it’s a simple restore because someone deleted a file, we can use the on-site backup,” Rishi explains.

“Off-site is more secure,” Rishi says. “If something happens to the facility, you have a copy of the data elsewhere. For instance, many years ago, I had a client who had his backup tapes stolen along with their server. Luckily, I had a copy of their tapes, too, which saved their business.”

Other considerations for businesses are industry compliance requirements regarding how data is backed up, how long it’s kept and additional security considerations beyond the norm.

“That is why Affinity bundles backup as part of our baseline security services. Those are critical services that we don’t want to chance,” Rishi explains.

Not sure if your data is backed up and secure? Don’t leave that to chance. Call us at 602-439-4989 or email us for a free consultation.