What is a Backup?

When considering IT, the term ‘backing up’ means the copying or archiving of computer data so that original files can be recovered or restored after a data loss event. A business might back up files for two distinct reasons, 1) The primary purpose, to regain access to business data or client files after they have been lost by corruption, deletion, or theft, and 2) to reset a computer system to a previous time when files were unaffected.

It is often recommended by backup service providers that in today’s world, backups should be considered as one part of a larger disaster recovery plan. To find out more about disaster recovery, please refer to section 10.

Benefits of Backups

It is highly beneficial and important for businesses to back up their files in case of a data loss event. Backups are extremely reliable and easy to set up, they can be scheduled for a convenient time, and when done remotely they can be done out of hours to cause no hassle or disruption. Lastly, by backing up files to a centralised place, such as an offsite data centre, greater security assurances are introduced, particularly if a member of staff loses data on a personal device or if systems completely fail.

Disadvantages of Backups

The main disadvantage of backing up business data is the massive storage requirements necessary for making a copy of each file that a company considers worth saving. Deciding how to allocate storage space for backup can also be complicated and difficult to manage, particularly if each business department has a certain amount of space, but requirements are different in each. This hassle is often deemed a lesser evil than complete business data loss due to having no backup or disaster recovery plan. Lastly, if files are backed up to an external data centre, a business is then heavily reliant on the provider to keep those files secure.

Types of Backup

On-Site Backup

On-Site Backup refers to the backup of files that takes place on a business’ premises. Files that are archived in this way are usually saved to external hard drives or network attached storage (NAS). This type of backup is typically chosen because it is easier and quicker to access files if restorations need to take place immediately. Some companies choose to not back their files up on-site in case they are lost because of an office disaster such as a fire and flood. Some companies choose to have on-site and off-site backup to keep data safe in any scenario.

Off-Site Backup

This type of backup stores data away from the business at data centres, and is usually regarded as a much safer way of storing a company’s files. Some businesses do not choose offsite backup because of the amount of time required to regain access to files, either by travelling to the location where the data is saved or downloading thousands of files using an internet connection.

Device Backup

Device backup refers to the practise of saving personal data, such as photographs, music and email on a mobile phone, to an external storage device, in the form of physical mediums such as USB which are kept by the user, or cloud storage at a data centre. 9.5 Backup for Small Business
To ensure that files are not permanently lost and crucial business processes are not halted, it is highly recommended for small businesses to adopt a multi-tiered approach to their data backup.

  • Local copies – securely saved to individual devices for each user
  • Local backup – for instant retrieval of files if local saves fail
  • Off-site backup – in case premises are compromised and local backup fails

Backup for Large Business

Backing up files is typically a much more complicated process for big businesses. The sheer volume of data (often given the term ‘Big Data’) that needs to be copied could lead to very high costs and a complicated infrastructure if on-site backup is chosen. External backups can be scheduled for convenient out-of-hours periods and stored off-site, which would reduce costs and keep data safe in case of disaster.

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