The important role that backups play in recovering information.

“I remember that day I got married. It was a beautiful, sunny day on the beach. The two weeks following that day, my husband and I traveled around on our honeymoon, taking pictures, and going on adventures. Soon after, we packed up our stuff and moved from Ohio to Oklahoma – another big adventure. I love taking pictures, and of course there was so much to see and take pictures of! Around six months after we moved, my phone broke. It couldn’t even turn on. In this moment I learned – devastatingly, that since I had not ever had a backup in place, I lost all those photos of my wedding day, honeymoon, and our move. I still think about it to this day – six years later. About all my beautiful memories that are lost forever. I learned a very powerful lesson: I need to make sure I am backed up, every day, always.”*

This story is a very small-scale lesson on backing up your data and information. Backing up is something we all know we should do, and we will do it soon. Unfortunately, the longer you put it off, the more devastating the result will be…especially, if you own a business.

“But all businesses know they need to do a backup, right?”

As we learned in our Ransomware blog, that is unfortunately not always the case. Large companies can find themselves completely incapacitated as they realize they don’t have the proper backups to get their company back online. As we saw with the Colonial Pipeline, a lack of backups cost them 5 million dollars when they paid the hackers for their data to be returned.

So how many businesses actually make backing up a priority?

42% of companies experienced a data loss event that resulted in downtime last year, according to Acronis. That high number is likely caused by the fact that while nearly 90% are backing up the IT components they’re responsible for protecting, only 41% back up daily – leaving many businesses with gaps in the valuable data available for recovery…

Meanwhile, 85% of organizations aren’t backing up multiple times per day, only 15% report they are. 26% back up daily, 28% back up weekly, 20% back up monthly, and 10% aren’t backing up at all, which can mean days, weeks, or months of data lost with no possibility of complete recovery.

Of those professional users who don’t back up, nearly 50% believe backups aren’t necessary. A belief the survey contradicts: 42% of organizations reported data loss resulting in downtime this year and 41% report losing productivity or money due to data inaccessibility. Security, H. N. (2020, April 2). While nearly 90% of companies are backing up data, only 41% do it daily. Help Net Security.

It’s all too easy for companies to not make backups their top priority. In the past, we didn’t see breaches happen as often as we do today. Currently, there are over 2000 cyber-attacks a day, and companies find themselves spending trillions of dollars a year trying to retrieve their lost data.

JournalSpace, a six-year-old blog hosting service, closed shop on Tuesday after losing all of its users’ data. Details are sketchy, but the company claims the cause was either an OS failure or a disgruntled employee that deleted the data…

· Mirroring: JournalSpace had been mirroring their data, meaning two drives would have the exact same data. While often mistaken for backup because this protects from a single hard drive failure, this is open to all other causes of data loss such a virus, fire, user error, etc.

· Data Recovery: Most people realize they should do backups, but they put it off, and in the back of their head think “Worst case, I’ll take it to one of those drive recovery places.” Alas, as JournalSpace discovered, even the professionals at DriveSavers can only recover data in certain lucky cases.

· Cost: If you think doing backups is too expensive, try not doing backups. JournalSpace says they spent as much on their attempt to recover the data as they had made in the entire year prior, did not succeed, and paid the ultimate corporate price. Budman, G. (2021, June 14). JournalSpace Shuts Down Due to No Backups. Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

What is a backup?

A successful backup is to create a digital copy of your data so that it can be recovered should you ever have a data failure. Data failures can be caused by hardware or software failure, human error, accidental deletion, or data corruption. Having data backed up ensures you can restore your system back to full capacity or nearly full capacity, quickly.

Storing data in an offsite location is the best way to ensure the security and safety of your data. You can do this in a couple of different ways, such as with USB drives, disk storage, or cloud storage.

Backups need to be done on a consistent basis. Backing up your data daily is the best way to ensure your data is restorable. The more time that passes between backups, the more data that could be lost should a failure occur.

Why you should back up your data

  • Recovery – Human error happens daily. One of the most common ways is opening an email that contains a virus that can quickly disable and corrupt a single system with important files on them. We also know accidents happen all the time, from dropping a computer or spilling coffee on the keyboard. There is never a guarantee that you will fully recover the loss.
  • Taxes – It is often critical to keep important documents backed up, such as taxes and audits. If you need to review anything that has happened over the last several years, having this information backed up will be critical to your success. Never assume your computer has you covered. Having a single copy is never true assurance that your documents are safe. Finding an offsite location to store this data will put you on the roadway to success.
  • Downtime – As we saw with JournalSpace, a business that has a major data loss is liable to not reopen at all if they cannot recover their data. The longer your downtime is, the quicker another company can swoop in and be the solution to your customers. Having a plan B can ensure that you are back on your feet fast and helps assure your customers that your company is the most efficient.

What kind of backup should I use?

There are several ways of going about backing up your data. Here are three of the most common:

1. Full Backup – The most basic and complete type of backup operation is a full backup. As the name implies, this type of backup makes a copy of all data to a storage device, such as a disk or tape. The primary advantage to performing a full backup during every operation is that a complete copy of all data is available with a single set of media. This results in a minimal time to restore data, a metric known as a recovery time objective. However, the disadvantages are that it takes longer to perform a full backup than other types (sometimes by a factor of 10 or more), and it requires more storage space.

Thus, full backups are typically run only periodically. Data centers that have a small amount of data (or critical applications) may choose to run a full backup daily, or even more often in some cases. Typically, backup operations employ a full backup in combination with either incremental or differential backups.

2. Incremental backups – An incremental backup operation will result in copying only the data that has changed since the last backup operation of any type. An organization typically uses the modified time stamp on files and compares it to the time stamp of the last backup. Backup applications track and record the date and time that backup operations occur in order to track files modified since these operations.

Because an incremental backup will only copy data since the last backup of any type, an organization may run it as often as desired, with only the most recent changes stored. The benefit of an incremental backup is that it copies a smaller amount of data than a full. Thus, these operations will have a faster backup speed, and require less media to store the backup.

3. Differential backups – A differential backup operation is similar to an incremental the first time it is performed, in that it will copy all data changed from the previous backup. However, each time it is run afterwards, it will continue to copy all data changed since the previous full backup. Thus, it will store more backed up data than an incremental on subsequent operations, although typically far less than a full backup. Moreover, differential backups require more space and time to complete than incremental backups, although less than full backups. Crocetti, R. F. A. P. (2019, July 17). Types of Backup Explained: Full, Incremental, Differential, etc. SearchDataBackup.

I still don’t know where to start…

That’s okay. Even while knowing all the right information, this can all still be very overwhelming and daunting. DataCom Technologies wants to help you be prepared. If you would like to have some help navigating this wave of information, contact us either through our website by clicking here, or by calling us at 330-680-6002. We place a very high value on protecting our customers’ data, and that includes helping explain security options specific to each circumstance.

*The story relayed at the beginning of this post was experienced by one of our staff writers, Christa. Don’t let her story become yours. Be proactive in creating a routine to get your information backed up so that when data failure happens, the option for restoration is possible.