Data Backup – Seven Golden Rules

The importance of good backups

Backups are important | Help-IT

Done a lot of work today?

Pretty important stuff, right? Possibly even vital?

I hope you know for sure it is safely backed up and recoverable if needed.

If you do, congratulations, you are in a small minority.

Many businesses cannot say for sure that their data is safe.

They trust haphazard data backup routines that rely on the efforts of one or two people to succeed. They assume. They hope.

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes. They can be catastrophic – like the fire that destroyed our offices many moons ago. They can be miniscule – like the file accidentally deleted by a client this week.

It is being able to handle that emergency that is the key.

Because you are a smart business operator, we are sure you aren’t going to leave something so vital to chance.

So what do you need to do?

Rule 1: Know what needs backing up, and why

The bedrock of all backup plans – know what you have, where it is, and how important it is. With this knowledge you can protect everything important, using the right media and with the right frequency.

Rule 2: Hold your data in one place

Individual machines and devices become a nightmare for successful backups. Company policy should be to hold a master copy of data on a server. One master copy, one backup. Easy.

Rule 3: Automation is your friend

Backups are not fun. They come at the end of the day, or end of the week, at that time where home – or pub if you are lucky – is beckoning. They rely on the weakest link in any system – people. Trust it to automated systems instead. They are reliable, consistent, and don’t spend Friday afternoon dreaming about a quick pint.

Rule 4: Backup often

This one is simple. The more often you back up, the less data you can lose when the time comes to recover an item. Less duplication, lower cost of recovery.

Rule 5: Watch your backups

You have automated your backups, right? And thus everything is more reliable. But even the most reliable systems need a little bit of checking, so make sure your backup systems get the once over. Check for errors, unusual activity, and most importantly, that they have actually run on schedule.

Rule 6: Testing, testing

So you have your nice automated backup system running to schedule. All is well. Isn’t it? You don’t have a successful backup until you are certain you can recover it. So give it a try. Periodically task a staff member with recovering data from the backup (for that ‘real world’ touch make it someone not involved in the backup process). Ensure you have a procedure to follow, and that the procedure works.

Rule 7: Backup your backups

It’s backup time. But backups can go wrong, so you’ll give yourself a safety net by making a copy of your existing backup before writing over it. Woohoo, you have a one generation old copy and a current copy. And now for the really clever part – you are going to make a further copy and securely store it elsewhere. That can mean taking a physical copy elsewhere, or using a cloud service for remote storage.

Congratulations, you are winning

So there you go, seven simple steps to happiness, security and a great night’s sleep. If you follow these, you will be a step ahead of the majority of businesses and can justifiably feel a little smug about your excellent data management.

And if you would like any help or advice in setting up a system like this, please ask and we will be glad to assist you.

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Image: Filippo Giunchedi

Help-IT ConsultancyIT support for Essex businesses from our base in Southend

IT Security – we have trust issues

IT Security | Help-IT Consultancy

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We don’t trust the people that work for you.

A shocking admission, isn’t it?

But in our experience, the biggest threat to your IT security is not the army of anonymous hackers across the globe. It is the people sitting at your PCs every day.

Not because they are bad people. Sometimes they just forget about basic internet security.

Virus and malware events are still some of the biggest IT support headaches faced by our clients.

In 2016 awareness of viruses and their dangers should be high, shouldn’t they? But worldwide the numbers of virus incidents are increasing.


Taking trust for granted

Take a look around you. Are you thinking that actually you don’t know for sure what everyone is doing online? Are they accessing safe files? Opening genuine emails only?

One simple error can be enough to  undo all your IT security.

Two recent client incidents demonstrated how people leave the front door open to intruders.

In one case, a nasty and pervasive virus of a type called ransomware made its way onto the customer’s server. As the name implies, this type of malware seeks to extort money from the infected business. In the case of our client, this left over 20,000 files corrupted. The dreaded ransomware page appeared asking for 500 euros to get the data back.

This was years’ of work, destroyed in an afternoon. Ouch.

The other was a far simpler virus in fake email attachment. Luckily for them it didn’t lead to an infection. But they didn’t know then when double-clicking.

One did lots of damage, the other none. But the point is, neither should have reached the clients’ systems.

In the first case, we found evidence of files downloaded from a peer-to-peer network, a notorious source of malware. The second raised questions with the user, who decided they would ‘just’ open the attachment to find out if it was a fake.

Both cases were easy to prevent. And in turn, they show where the weakness in any system lies – the human element.

Both cases had a happy ending, by the way, but more of that later.

There’s no such thing as ‘too secure’

It is vital as a business to keep stressing to your people their role in IT security. Every email they open, every internet link they follow is a potential gateway for the bad stuff to get into your systems. Caution should precede every action, and ‘do I trust this?’ should be a mantra.

Likewise, ask the same question of any devices that are going to connect to your systems . That includes direct connections like USB sticks, or networked machines such as users’ laptops or tablets. Are you 100% sure that they are clean and safe before connecting?

And so how did the two events above come out OK?

The value of safety nets

The answer goes back to not trusting your people. We made sure there were some sturdy safety nets in place to catch things just like that.

The clients had up to date antivirus software in place, on machines that had up to date security patches. That was enough to catch one virus.

The nasty one managed to evade that net. But the client had a comprehensive, automatic incremental backup system in place. They could afford to learn about ransomware because they had many copies of the affected files backed up.

Build in safety

How many layers of protection does your business have against the threats that can come through the front door?

Ensure your people are aware of the risks. That is priority number one. Put in place the proper safety nets and you are protected if they slip at any time.

If you would like to know how to have first-rate protection, then we would like to talk to you. Please contact us today.

It could save your business.


Image by Nick Carter @ Subcircle