5 top data backup and recovery tips for businesses

Workers in office at open plan desks
(Image credit: Unsplash)

With hacking and malware attacks increasingly targeting businesses of all sizes, it's critical to establish a data backup and recovery plan, as data security goes a long way towards keeping systems safe. However, a single mistake should never mean that years of digital work should be lost forever.

With most businesses now backing up with the best cloud storage, data backup and recovery will revolve around cloud storage. However, there's more to that than just finding the best cloud storage for business. Below, we outline five tips that can help you to ensure your data is protected, and available when you need to access it.

1. Redundant backups are key

series of server drives within a unit

Cloud storage services are still susceptible to risks, so make sure you have multiple backups (Image credit: Photo by panumas nikhomkhai from Pexels)

Although having a single, complete backup of your business’s files and computing network is better than nothing, it’s still not all that secure. Both you and your cloud storage provider could be affected by the same piece of malware. Or a regional disaster like an earthquake could destroy digital infrastructure both at your offices and at your cloud data center.

So, it’s essential that your backup and recovery strategy includes multiple backups. Ideally, your data should be mirrored at multiple data centers that are thousands of miles apart. Even better, store your data with two different cloud vendors so that your files live on multiple, disconnected networks.

2. Take advantage of automated scheduling

row of server drives

Automated backups will ensure nothing is lost (Image credit: Pexels)

If you have to remember to backup your files to the cloud, there’s a chance that sooner or later you’re going to forget to do it. If that happens, your business could potentially lose days’ or even weeks’ worth of critical data in the event of a breach.

Thankfully, you can rely on automation. Most business cloud storage providers offer software that helps you designate files for backup and recovery, and then keeps them synced to the cloud. Look for the option to run incremental backups, which can help reduce the amount of bandwidth your backup regime requires.

Occasionally, you’ll also want to run large backups that include your network applications and company databases. Try scheduling these to upload overnight so they don’t suck up network resources during the workday.

3. Encryption is critical

lock on laptop keyboard

Encrypting data is integral to cloud storage (Image credit: Unsplash)

Most businesses need to backup at least some sensitive data, such as customer information, billing details, or employee records. Even if your data isn’t necessarily sensitive, you don’t want all of your company’s files to leak out in the event that your network or cloud provider are hacked.

That’s why encryption is so important when it comes to backing up data to the cloud. Your cloud provider should offer end-to-end encryption so that data is encrypted before it ever leaves your computer. Even if a hacker is able to steal files from your backup, the files cannot be decrypted without your company’s key.

4. Keep an eye on regulations

GDPR iconography on a keyboard's enter key

The GDPR is just one privacy law that can affect data storage (Image credit: Pixabay)

Your business’s obligation to follow privacy laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) doesn’t end when you send your data to the cloud. 

In fact, it’s up to you to make sure that your data will be stored in compliance with all applicable regulations. Be sure to ask your cloud storage provider about what steps they take to achieve compliance.

Another thing to consider is whether your data will be stored in the same country as your business. Storing data internationally can sometimes cause regulatory headaches, especially if you’re backing up sensitive customer data. In addition, some countries have stronger data privacy laws than others. Always know where your data will be stored and how it could affect your data privacy.

5. Recovery time matters

Dark servers data center room with computers and storage systems

Every second that your data is inaccessible can cost your business money (Image credit: Jasmin Merdan/Getty Images)

When your business network goes down, every second of the recovery process matters. For most companies, a day without data means a day without revenue.

Downloading terabytes of application data, databases, and files from the cloud can take weeks. But many cloud providers will put a complete copy of your business backup on a hard drive and mail it to your business overnight. This type of courier service can enable your business to get back up in running within a day or two.

Data backup and recovery: Summary

Backing up your data to the cloud is an essential part of protecting your business against hacks and system failures. But signing up for a storage platform isn’t on its own a reliable backup and recovery solution. You need to establish a robust plan that considers elements like data security, redundancy, and recovery time. With all those pieces in place, you can feel assured that your business is ready to bounce back from any data loss event.

Further reading on cloud storage

We compared on-prem vs cloud storagecloud storage vs external hard disk drives, and discussed whether cloud storage is securehow secure it is, and how cloud storage security is crucial.

Michael Graw

Michael Graw is a freelance journalist and photographer based in Bellingham, Washington. His interests span a wide range from business technology to finance to creative media, with a focus on new technology and emerging trends. Michael's work has been published in TechRadar, Tom's Guide, Business Insider, Fast Company, Salon, and Harvard Business Review.