How important are your backups?
This is a very important subject many people never think about until disaster strikes. You could lose or damage your laptop, your storage device may fail, a thief may strike or you could be the victim of data destruction through a crypto attack. Some of these scenarios may be rare occurrences and others quite common, but YOU must make the decision on how important your data is to you. If you only surf the web and don't store important data like documents or pictures, then it doesn't matter. If you have a business that relies on all kinds of data, then a complete or partial data loss can be expensive or even disastrous to your continued ability to do business.
What are backups?
There are two major types of backups: the image-level backup and the file-level backup. In simple terms, an image-level backup is one that creates an exact replica of a workstation or server into a compressed archive file. This allows the total restoration of the device back to the exact point in time that the backup was created. It is the fastest way to recover a damaged or compromised system, but takes the most storage space, bandwidth and time to complete.
The second type is the file-level backup. It does not store the system and only saves what is designated as important data files. In the event of a damaged or compromised system, the main device's system must be manually rebuilt before the data can be recovered. This method requires the least storage space, bandwidth and time to create, but it can take hours of manual work to rebuild the system and software prior to a restore. As in life, there is no silver bullet that is the best solution for everyone.
Where do I store backups?
There are many solutions to storing backups, but today the most common ones are a locally attached external drive, a network attached storage device (NAS) or a cloud storage solution. All of the methods have their pros and cons but it is best to use a combination of them to arrive at a complete backup solution. A local backup to a local drive or NAS is the fastest way to recover in the event of a problem but they do not help in scenarios like fire or theft. The cloud solution is very popular right now as this method is able to get an offsite backup, but it can be limited by your internet bandwidth and complete backup size. Before deciding what storage is best, these and many other factors should be reviewed by the customer as well as a skilled IT professional.
The rule of thumb when designing a backup strategy is the 'Rule of 3' - three backup methods on two different media types with at least one off-site. Not all of us can follow this rule completely, but one should try to get as close as possible. The other major point is the timeliness of the backups. It is a user responsibility to regularly make sure that the backup is being done and that it is working correctly. A failed backup may not alert you if it is hung up or shut down for any number of reasons, so a periodic review should be done on the validity of the data. The test should not be when it is needed the most. Test restores should be done along with a comparison to the actual data to validate the results of the restore operation. As with all processes, backups are subject to failures due to age, changes (such as updates) or system/component failures. This is the main reason behind the rule of 3 as all of your eggs are not in one basket. Always keep in mind that the biggest asset that a computer contains is your data - do a good job in protecting it.
Ridge Support can take a look at existing backups, recommend new solutions and practices or simply answer any questions you may have.