When making decisions about data backup and recovery, it’s easy to use the two terms interchangeably, especially since IT professionals do so frequently. It is important to know the difference between the two, and if you are contemplating which to choose, the answer might be both!
Backup and disaster recovery are both critical to protecting your company’s data and systems, but they are two separate and distinct strategies. If you’re a dessert lover, like I am, think of it this way. Backing up the important data is one piece of the pie, while comprehensive disaster recovery is the whole pie. And when it comes to protecting your organization’s data, you want the whole pie.
Knowing the difference between disaster recovery and backup is a good first step, but it isn’t enough to decide what your organization needs. Understanding the differences between the two is key to knowing if your IT support team just needs a secure backup system, if they need a full disaster recovery plan, or if they need both.
Backups are Essential
We all know how it feels to lose a document that you swore you saved. Or maybe you did save it, but something went wrong with your hardware or the server. Or you may have been the victim of a cyberattack, which is increasingly common.
According to Comparitech’s statistics on cybersecurity and cybercrime in Canada, in 2020, 78% of businesses were impacted by successful cyberattacks. By 2021 that number rose to almost 87% of organizations. Canadian companies spent on average a little over 11% of their IT budget on cybersecurity in that same year.
With those alarming statistics, it is increasingly imperative to have a backup system in place that will preserve and protect your company’s critical data.
On-site vs Cloud Backup
With today’s Cloud storage options, organizations of any size have more choices in backing up and storing their data securely. On-site backup still offers some organizations, especially smaller businesses that do not have massive amounts of data to store, the peace of mind of knowing that their data is easy to retrieve because it’s in the building. Since everything is at your place of business, you will be able to access the files without having to connect to the internet, something that’s not possible when data is stored in the cloud. The downside is that in case of fire, natural disaster, or a cyberattack, there is a risk of losing everything if on-site is your only backup. There is also the added expense of owning the servers and a finite amount of storage space.
Cloud storage provides an additional level of security should something happen to your physical servers. It also provides automatic updates to your backup and can be managed by your Managed Services Provider (MSP), freeing your IT team to do other things. Cloud storage eliminates the need to buy expensive servers that also take up space on-site, and your storage capacity is unlimited, based only on how much you pay for your subscription. You also can access all your data from any location, provided you have internet service. Cloud storage also provides more safety because your data is encrypted to protect it from unauthorized access. The downside to Cloud storage is if you don’t have internet access, you’re out of luck.
Strength in Numbers
For some, a hybrid approach to backing up data can be a good solution, especially as part of a disaster recovery plan. When planning a backup system, you want to start by understanding your business requirements and then design that system around the technical elements. A good MSP can help your IT team set this up and will create multi-layered protection using both on-site and cloud-based backups.
One thing to remember is that backups only take care of your data and files. While having access to them is great, you need to have the software and tools to use these files. If your IT support doesn’t back up those applications, your files might as well be rendered useless.
Disaster Recovery – The Whole Pie
Backups are important to disaster recovery efforts, but they are only one piece of the pie. Think about it like this, if you are a victim of a cyberattack, not only can it result in the loss of valuable data, but it also can disable phone and computer networks and paralyze systems. The result could be not just loss of data, but software and hardware as well.
Whether it is a cyberattack, fire, or another disaster on-site, you’ll need systems that are critical to your organization up and running ASAP. Creating an environment that can run applications remotely is the quickest way to accomplish this. It might take days, if not weeks, to reinstall one critical piece of software at a company, and having to install several might take months. Ultimately that’s downtime that your business can’t afford.
Working with your MSP, it’s important to map out which systems and software are critical so they can restore those right away and specify which ones you can do without for a few days. They can create a virtual server that allows you and your employees access to the systems you need immediately. Your IT support person or team can then work with your MSP to get everything back up and running as it was before the disaster.
Once vital programs are operational, that’s where regaining access to your data becomes key. If you have a secure, off-site, or cloud backup, you’ll be able to start using your data the moment systems are functioning.
Without a disaster recovery plan in place, you may be out of business before you know it. In the case of a cyberattack, recovery is expensive in multiple ways. As with other disasters, you will be paying for the immediate damage and subsequent repairs as well as soft costs associated with loss of business and lost productivity. However, a cyberattack adds the expense of counteracting bad publicity, reinforcing security tools, ransoms (if you choose to pay them), and other factors that cause added expense while you are contending with getting your business up and running again.
Every business, no matter its size, should make IT disaster recovery and business continuance planning a priority. Thinking “it won’t happen to us” has left many companies unprepared for dealing with critical details when a disaster happens. Management teams frequently don’t prioritize disaster recovery because the risk of a disaster seems unlikely. They often are focused on more immediate concerns or have allocated those IT resources elsewhere. Having a secure backup plan and a plan for recovery in case of a cyberattack or other disaster is crucial to your organization’s sustainability.
For most small to medium-sized organizations, their most vital asset is their data. Those who have solid backup plans in place come out of disasters relatively unscathed; those who don’t risk going out of business – sometimes within months.
To organize a proper disaster recovery plan, you and your IT provider must understand how it differs from backups, and what your organization’s customized needs are. Don’t let your MSP simply offer you off-site data storage and call it disaster recovery. You’ll be in for a rude awaking when something does happen.
At Dyrand, we believe that our customers should be protected, and they should be educated, too. We’ll sit down with you and explain the differences between things like backups and disaster recovery and then tailor a solution that meets your requirements. Want to know more? Get in touch with us today!