Backups have been a hot topic for a generation in the IT world. Most businesses, and folks in general, acknowledge the wisdom of backing up data. We put valuable time into our work, whether business or personal, and it only makes sense to keep a second digital copy. After all, computers are machines, and machines break. Machines can break in unpredictable ways, such as failure caused by manufacturer defect, or in predictable ways, such as age or abuse of equipment.
Admittedly, data is a bit of a different beast than many other machines that may be a part of a business. While a fire could certainly bring operations to a halt, businesses generally carry insurance for this. Similarly, machines such as those used in manufacturing do indeed break, but most businesses in applicable industries have a sturdy plan for such an event. Data is rarely protected by insurance, and far too few businesses have a continuity plan for when—not if—loss occurs.
Bluntly, not enough businesses perform sufficient backups. While most businesses, over 90% by some figures, maintain some type of backup plan, less than 50% do so daily. As a business owner or decision maker, it is important to think about the context of how much work happens in one business day. Many would shudder at the thought of lighting that amount of money on fire, yet leave it to chance in the realm of IT. By one statistic, a breakdown is roughly 10% of businesses do not backup at all (!!), 25% are backing up only monthly, an additional 25% weekly, and 25% once daily. Only the remaining 15% are exercising best practice of backing up multiple times every day.
Even worse, not enough businesses care to imagine the implications of a massive data loss caused by disaster—whether natural, such as a fire, or intentional, such as a malicious hacker or a disgruntled employee. For many businesses, a single event can destroy years of work! This chance is exacerbated by having unsecured information accessible to too many people. While not the focus of this article, the principle of least privilege can help with this.
As a Managed IT Services provider, we recommend to our customers continuity procedures and policies while advising the perils of failing to properly prepare for the unexpected. Even so, we cannot truly say that every business under our IT umbrella takes care of data in the way that they should. Unfortunately, many businesses without proper IT support may not even know what the right path is—and, with no compass to guide them to it, unknowingly tread in a dangerous direction.
One backup philosophy, as taught in the US Army, is referred to as a PACE plan. This acronym stands for Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency. For example, a communications detachment may have 4 methods of communicating in the event that some are rendered inoperable. These could include data, SATCOM voice, point-to-point communications, and HF radio. Additionally those soldiers may have varying plans for frequencies in the event of interference.
While this level of continuity is robust (and recommended), it may seem unfeasible, or unreasonable, for every business. We understand how it may seem this way, but let’s look at an example. A server, which can be considered the heart of the IT system for many businesses, should have redundancy in storage—usually via a proper RAID configuration. These would be considered the Primary and Alternate storage locations, primarily protecting against drive failure. (If you’ve gotten this far and realized your business does not have redundant local storage…please stop here and give us a call or click the CONTACT US button right now. We can be your compass!)
Yet protecting against drive failure is only one layer of protection. RAID configs are not intelligent, and if a disgruntled employee wants to make a mess, he or she can do so and the RAID will not protect the business. This leads to our contingency, which most often is a local backup via a Network Attached Storage device, or NAS. The NAS can save images of the server multiple times per day. These can then can be recovered to the last image prior to the data loss/vandalism. Yet a NAS is on-site and cannot protect against a disaster such as a flood or fire.
The emergency layer then is a cloud backup. Most often uploaded from the NAS to the cloud, this layer maintains identical images to the NAS (prior to its failure). There are many different services that provide cloud backups, but in our eyes, one service stands out and is certainly deserving of further discussion.
We are proud to be partnered with Datto, an industry leader in the business continuity space. Datto devices and services are, quite simply, a step above. Certain Datto devices can keep a business running even with a server completely inoperable. (We’ve had businesses run from their Datto SIRIS for extended periods. This is not advisable but is, indeed, a testament to the power of the device and service.)
Datto Unified Continuity is a hardware/software/service bundle that allows operation from the cloud should a server become compromised or otherwise rendered broken. ALTO is a solution for businesses and organizations with less than 1 TB of server storage, however the SIRIS line is truly an amazing engine for business continuity and disaster recovery. As a NAS and continuity solution built into one, the SIRIS is capable of running a virtual machine locally. This means it is able to maintain a business even without server operation or internet connection. It’s an always-available solution that offers instant virtualization and choices of recovery options. It’s not a lie that a business utilizing SIRIS could have its server completely disconnected from the network and many employees wouldn’t even notice (although we certainly hope the IT—and possibly security—personnel at least would). It’s a world class solution for business owners and decision makers who understand the value of IT in their business or organization’s operation and productivity.
Datto SaaS is a different but equally important solution. By interfacing with Microsoft 365, Datto SaaS serves to maintain records indefinitely that Microsoft will only guarantee to keep for 30 days. Accidentally delete a file last month? No problem. Have an employee wipe their documents to leave the business high and dry? Datto SaaS can recover them with little hassle.
Datto products can also be a key component to businesses in industries with compliance requirements.
Have questions? Not sure where you stand? Need helping hand? We are here and ready to help YOUR business succeed and be prepared when—not if—the unexpected occurs. GET IN TOUCH!