A successful IT department knows that to address tomorrow’s data disaster, their prep work has to start today. It might sound cliché, but proactive maintenance and disaster recovery preparedness is the most efficient way of tackling the latest data breach, malware intrusion, or data storage problem. When anything can happen at any moment, from fires and power outage, to theft and human error, most companies can’t afford to lose a single file—let alone access to their sensitive data for days, weeks, or months at a time.
What is a data disaster?
Any event that would cause data to be unintentionally overwritten qualifies as a “data disaster.” This could be a computer or storage system failing, the result of a virus or malware, accidents, or even deliberate sabotage.
Now that you know the basics, there are actually ten simple steps that you can—and should—take right now in order to prevent a critical loss of data.
1. Conduct a data assessment
Businesses should have a solid grasp on what files are important, how they’re used, and by whom. Having information about usage will allow your company to assign importance to specific chunks of data, and create a blueprint for what data will be essential in the event of a disaster and more importantly, prioritize it by who will require access to it.
Not every file will carry equal importance, but assigning value to each piece of data will better ensure that business-critical information is secured and backed up in the event of a data loss. Your IT department will be more effective at protecting sensitive data when the essential is sorted from the non-essential. Once data has been categorized based on priority and importance, you should start the backup process.
2. Create a data backup
Creating a data backup is one of the most important things you can do to prevent and mitigate fallout from a data disaster. If you’ve conducted the data assessment first, you’ll find the process will go much more efficiently. When it comes to backups, remember the following tips:
- Back up your backups
- Cloud-based storage is optimal for two reasons: its ability to drastically reduce overhead costs and its increased security
- Implement automatic backups
- Back up essential applications in addition to data
A helpful rule for backups is the 3-2-1 strategy. This involves creating three copies of data, storing them on two different kinds of media, and storing one of those offsite. If you want optimal coverage for potential future data disasters, it’s a good rule to follow.
3. Start storing your data in a secure cloud
Companies large and small are moving more and more of their data offsite, into cloud storage. The benefits of cloud storage are immense as you’re essentially moving your network into a hosted cloud environment, which is then delivered on-demand to your business’s employees, wherever they are.
The real merit to keeping your data on the cloud is that your provider handles all redundancy, updates, and security on your behalf. This not only reduces overhead costs of handling those things in-house, but adds an additional layer of security to your existing data disaster recovery plan and management.
4. Encrypt your data
Having the proper encryption helps secure the data you’re storing elsewhere because it’s not enough to just store data offsite or in the cloud. The data backup process has to be supported by sufficient encryption practices, both in transit and while idle. You want to ensure that unauthorized users can’t access data while you’re retrieving a backup, while it’s at rest, or during a backup session.
Incorporating strong encryption into your data backup plan can drastically reduce the likelihood of a security breach as well. For those companies also utilizing cloud storage solutions, vet the process with your provider and make sure that no one can access the encryption keys.
5. Test your data recovery plan; and if you don’t have one, develop one
Creating and documenting your disaster recovery plan is imperative to preventing data disasters. Even if you have a process, it has to be written down for it to be effective. With a documented plan, you should test, test, test.
Test your encryptions, the integrity of your backups; everything you can test, you should test. If you don’t practice the plan you’ve implemented, you may find it fails to protect you when the next data disaster strikes.
6. Incorporate security measures befitting the size and nature of your business
Every business can benefit from improving their network security and data storage methods, but adjusting the scope and depth to suit your business’s unique needs is necessary for covering all of your vulnerabilities. You don’t want to run the risk of overshooting and paying for services, software, or hardware you can’t actually benefit from; likewise, you don’t want to forget anything if your data is especially sensitive.
For example, if the bulk of your data isn’t critical, you could benefit from a more precise recovery plan and storage option, opting to backup only your most valuable business data.
7. Protect your laptops
Companies are going mobile, and that means your IT problems aren’t confined to the in-house data center alone. Laptops are being used to store critical corporate data, and because they are far more susceptible to theft, loss, and damage, laptops should be included in data disaster recovery plans.
8. Make sure your storage media is the right one for your data and business
The kind of storage media you choose will determine the speed at which you can recover your data. Whether you go disk, cloud, or on-site will affect your capabilities to recover in a timely fashion. This is the one area you shouldn’t skimp on. Each company is different, but you should form an understanding of how long you can wait to restore data. There is a way to optimize the process through the right recovery plan and storage media.
9. Audit your data and systems
This goes hand-in-hand with testing your data recovery plans. Auditing your current systems and data will help ensure that current configurations are up to spec and still secure. Auditing your data pools regularly will let you know that you’ll be able to recover your data when things go south during a disaster.
10. Contact the professionals if you’re overwhelmed, ill-equipped, or unable to protect your data yourself
Having an IT team may not be the most cost-effective solution for every business, but that doesn’t change the necessity of having professionals ready to help you avoid data disasters. Your business relies on its data to function on a daily basis and you should have a level of security, proactive management, and network administration to handle your data reactively and securely. Contact EZComputer Solutions today for the IT support that will consult with you to determine, and actualize, your exact data and network security needs.