In a Safe Place: Don’t Do These 5 Mistakes When Backing up Your Data

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Backing up data regularly is essential for any organization or IT department. Without data backups, critical and sensitive information cannot be restored when that data is accidentally deleted, corrupted, or compromised. However, backing up data the right way is not as simple as merely scheduling it to happen. Consequently, keeping an organization’s data safe and viable involves several best practices. Part of implementing those best practices involves knowing what mistakes not to make and what to avoid when creating a data backup plan.

Mistake #1: Backing Up the Wrong Data

To back up the data an organization needs, it has to be identified and prioritized. Consider using a managed IT services provider like Take a look at what users in the firm absolutely have to access in to do their jobs. Also, consider what information is crucial and critical to the various functions of the organization. What information would cause the firm to stop dead in its tracks if that data was lost? Is there any data that is proprietary, time-sensitive, or contains personal information related to the organization’s users, employees, or the firm itself? This data should not only be identified and included in any scheduled backups, but it should also be re-evaluated and prioritized on a regular basis.

Likewise, is there any data that should be de-prioritized or excluded from regular backups? Should staff members store some data on local machines and create their own backups of that data using an external hard drive or USB flash drive? Alternatively, should cloud storage services like Google Drive or Microsoft’s OneDrive be implemented to help alleviate some of the organization’s burden of backing up all employee files?

Mistake #2: Not Backing Up More Than Once

Data changes on a daily basis. Employees modify existing data and create new data. If an organization only backs up data stored on its network once, all of those changes are missed. Even with built-in network storage redundancy, it is possible that existing data will become corrupted or damaged. That is why it is important to create a standard backup schedule to consistently and constantly back up all of the organization’s data. Many organizations schedule nightly backups to capture any changes and additions created during the day.

While not every organization chooses to backup data every evening, a firm’s backup plan will need to consider user needs and the amount of data that users create each day. For smaller organizations, an adequate backup plan might entail backing up data two or three times a week. The key is to consistently evaluate changing needs within the organization, particularly as an organization grows.

Mistake #3: Avoiding Testing

A good backup plan includes testing. This means ensuring that the backup process works and someone in the IT department can successfully access and retrieve the backup. If testing identifies vulnerabilities or errors in the process, those issues should be addressed immediately. A good testing plan involves running through the established backup process more than once, as new vulnerabilities and errors with either software or hardware resources are bound to happen. An external IT vendor can also provide regularly scheduled data backup services and testing to help avoid errors.

Even organizations that maintain in-house IT staff can find advantages in using managed IT services for data backups. This is especially true if the organization serves a large number of users but has limited internal resources. Public organizations and agencies are prime examples.

Mistake #4: Not Having Enough Space

Large organizations or organizations that deal with a lot of data can run into problems with space to store that data. The last thing an organization wants to face is a backup that does not go through because it lacks the hardware or virtual space to store it. This means someone in the IT department will need to constantly assess whether the space the organization has allocated is sufficient and whether adjustments need to be made.

Some organizations choose to purchase additional hardware to increase space, while others use virtualization to add additional resources. Many organizations use a combination of additional hardware and virtualization or turn to managed IT services and cloud space. Part of making sure the firm has enough space includes evaluating the health of hardware and software resources. Are servers about to fail or need to be replaced due to aging or wear and tear? Are server software applications out of date and in need of upgrading?

Mistake #5: Foregoing Automation

Many IT professionals will concur that backing up data is a tedious and drawn-out process. Fortunately, there are software tools that automate backups. This not only helps cut down on potential errors but alleviates the burden from IT staff’s schedules and work demands. Due to automation, IT staff can dedicate resources and time to other critical tasks and an on-going assessment of the organization’s backup strategy.

However, automation is not perfect and is prone to human errors if the parameters and inputs are set up incorrectly or inadequately. This is why the automation process needs to be monitored and checked to make sure it is completing the backup process successfully. Even though it contains these types of caveats, automation should not be avoided as it can ensure that backups are consistently occurring.

Backing up data is critical to the success of any organization. With the amount of proprietary and sensitive data being stored on individual devices and network resources, organizations cannot afford to avoid the development of a thorough backup strategy. A complete backup strategy should incorporate best practices that avoid common mistakes that can lead to disaster and even the failure of the firm.

Common mistakes include not knowing what data to backup and what data can be deprioritized, not scheduling regular backups as data changes, not testing the process to ensure it works, not keeping up with space and storage demands, and avoiding automation. Avoiding these mistakes can not only ensure an organization successfully maintains the integrity of its data, but also will help ensure the firm keeps running at an efficient pace.

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