Businesses across Toronto are starting to realize their dependence on up-to-date data, and an increasing number of them are beginning to accept that they have to spend on data backups. It is sound logic to spend a little on backups to prevent larger costs caused by downtime and other detrimental effects of data loss, but how would you know if you spent more money than you had to? To prevent overspending, you need a data backup and recovery plan that factors in cost-efficiency.
First, identify what you must back up
Not every byte of data is worth having a copy of. One of the best ways to ensure that you’re only spending what you have to is by having users evaluate data by using the following questions:
- Is this data critical to business processes?
- Is the business contractually obligated to back this data up?
- Do data regulations require us to have a retrievable copy of relevant data at all times?
Across your organization, personnel who have intimate knowledge of the use and value of all data types must evaluate these accordingly. Also, you’ll most likely need to consult with legal counsel regarding contractual and regulatory obligations.
Secondly, sort your data according to importance
This step expands upon the first guide question above. That is, instead of merely thinking about data in a binary way — i.e., whether it is critical or noncritical — think about categorizing your data according to degrees of importance. In essence, the less critical certain data is to your operations, the fewer resources you need to allocate for backing them up. For the sake of simplicity, you can sort your data across three tiers:
|Tier 1: Mission-critical data
|Tier 2: Business-critical data
|Tier 3: Non-critical data
|Data in this tier supports essential operations or need to be immediately available at all times. Examples include inventory databases, personal health information, and data from eCommerce and point-of-sale (POS) systems.
|When systems fail, access to data may be cut off, thereby disrupting operations. However, systems that use business-critical data are those that can still continue to operate when workarounds allow partial access to such data. An example of this is employee information in payroll databases — even if the names and addresses of employees are lost, payroll can still be processed if salary data and employee numbers remain accessible.
|This data is not mission- or business-critical, but nevertheless cannot be compromised or lost. Examples include customer analytics and employee access point logs.
|Urgency of data restoration
|Data and file recovery must be done as soon as possible.
|Via workarounds, business-critical systems can sustain operations for limited periods of time. Therefore, data restoration can wait until the situation escalates to the mission-critical level.
|Among the three tiers, data here can be restored last. In fact, depending on your operations, restoring tier 3 data can wait 24 hours or longer and have no significant effect on your business.
|Data is updated frequently, so incremental changes may need to be backed up every hour or even at shorter time intervals.
|Business-critical data often doesn’t need to be backed up as frequently as mission-critical data, but frequency will depend on your recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs). RPO refers to how far back in time you want to have recoverable data (e.g. data from now going back a year), while RTO refers to how long it will take to recover that much data. RPOs and RTOs are set according to business process owner’s preferences or operational requirements.
|Noncritical data is often the type that’s collated and archived on a monthly basis.
Thirdly, evaluate the total cost of your backup solution
Backup solutions vary by where data is stored, who owns the IT infrastructure used, and who manages the processes for both data backups and restores.
If you already have a sizable infrastructure in-house, then local backups may be a good option for you. However, you may need to hire full-time employees to handle your backup and data recovery systems. Additionally, there’s a risk to having your data all in one place, so you might want to consider investing in off-site backups as well.
However, if investing in your own infrastructure will siphon away too much of your funds, you’ll do well to use cloud backups. With these, you’ll rely on a managed IT services provider (MSP) for their IT infrastructure as well as their data management services. This should serve you well, especially if your business is not related to anything IT at all.
Data backups are supposed to save you from losing large amounts of money due to downtime, lost sales, and regulatory fines brought about by data loss. This means that spending too much on data backups defeats their purpose. For cost-effective and Exponentially Better™ backups, rely on XBASE. To learn more, read up on backup planning by downloading our eBook today
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