The cloud has a near endless list of capabilities. It can streamline asset management, provide access to business applications, and even support app development. However, data storage remains one of the most popular functions of the cloud.
Organizations of all kinds rely on the cloud to house their data. Many of them are even using the cloud as a way to back up some of their most important files and ensure a more seamless disaster recovery process. If your company is thinking about following this path, then you will need to keep the following best practices in mind.
1. Develop a strategy
Ensuring reliable cloud backup can be more challenging than you may think, so it’s important to develop a strategy before you start moving resources to the cloud. Your strategy should be as thorough as possible, accounting for a vast array of services and other elements that will help you develop an effective cloud backup solution.
You should start by determining the type of storage that you’ll need for your backups. Some organizations follow the “bring your own cloud” approach, while others provision cloud services solely for backup. Your unique storage needs will shape the backup method that you ultimately choose. Additionally, your strategy should take into account your provider’s offerings and cost of promised services, among other factors.
Your strategy must also address the method of backup that you intend to use. The majority of cloud backups fall into one of three main categories.
The first, full backup, allows you to capture and store entire copies of your data, and therefore requires the greatest amount of storage. The second is differential backup, which starts with a complete backup of data and then incorporates additional data over time. The last, incremental backup, also begins with a full data backup but only adds copies of the very latest versions of each file. Depending on your storage needs, you can choose to use one of these methods—or all of them concurrently.
2. Back up your data often
You shouldn’t create a cloud backup of your data and never look at it again; the data your organization relies on is constantly changing. So, to mitigate the risk of losing your most vital files, you must create new backups of your information on a regular basis. Along with your original copy of the data, you should have both on- and off-site backups that reflect the latest version of that information.
To this end, you should create a schedule of when you will update your cloud backups. Data that is more static in nature may only require backups on a daily or weekly basis, but you will need to back up information that is updated continuously and most vital to your operations more frequently. This will ensure that you have the latest snapshots of data in case your onsite servers go down.
As you create your backups, you should also set a limit on data retention. The more backups you create, the more storage space you will consume. This makes it impossible to keep all your backups in cloud storage permanently. You should factor a retention schedule into your backup solution, allowing you to automatically delete older copies of data to make room for your most recent backups.
3. Make security a priority
You never want to run the risk of your data falling into the wrong hands. As such, security should be one of your main priorities when creating and storing backups in the cloud. Effective security must begin with your cloud provider. When vetting potential providers, you should evaluate their security certifications and protocols. Pay close attention to both the physical and digital security measures that they use to keep your backups safe.
Your provider’s security won’t be enough to protect your data. You’ll need to take your own steps to safeguard your backups from potential threats. Encryption is one of the best methods that you can use. It ensures that anyone without the encryption keys won’t be able to access your data, making backup recovery much easier and safer.
4. Get your team on board
In many cases, data loss happens as a result of human error—even if you have cloud backups in place. Sometimes an employee will unknowingly delete a file or write over the data you have stored. Providing education and training to your staff will be a vital part of mitigating data loss and ensuring that your backups never become compromised.
Before you begin your cloud migration, make sure to train your team in the various tools that they will use going forward. Make sure to pay particular attention to backup solutions. Not only will this make them more aware of the backup process, but it will also teach them how to solve any data loss issues that they may accidentally cause.
5. Test your process regularly and revise if needed
Your cloud backups won’t do you any good if your data restoration plan is insufficient. Your data backup process could run like a well-oiled machine—until the time comes to restore your information and it fails to do so. It is vital that you run tests on your entire backup and restore process on a regular basis to ensure that it will work when you need it to. You and your cloud provider should work together to run disaster recovery tests at least once a year. Simulating disasters will ensure that you address every potential point of weakness and, if needed, revise your backup and recovery plan to fill in those gaps.