Back up, back up , back up!
Having a successful backup
strategy is one of the best things you can do for your business IT. It helps protect you when a file is inevitably
written over or deleted. Much more
importantly is that it can help you in a disaster recovery scenario or when a
crypto locker style virus gets loose on the network.
There are many preventative
measures you can take to stop viruses in the first place, including using
suitable antivirus software, email filtering and mass storage blocking
measures. However, there is no
substitute for a rock-solid backup if and when the time comes when you need it.
A good backup strategy will
consist of multiple forms of backups to cover multiple scenarios. It would be no good to have to restore the
entire server farm in order to retrieve a single email, and likewise you
wouldn’t want the time-consuming job of restoring your Hyper-V host from
The local backup is the first and
arguably most important step. The
purpose of this backup is to ensure that the complete IT server infrastructure
is recoverable in a timely manner in the event of a server failure, fire or
The local backup will ideally be
an incremental disk image of the entire virtual or physical host(s), based on fast
media such as USB3 hard disk drives, NAS storage or both. The backup will be fully encrypted, with the
encryption key saved in a password management platform and only accessible to
authorized members of staff or your IT company.
Ideally the backup drives will be rotated off-site daily, so that when
you return to the office to find a disaster of some kind, you have the full IT
setup as it was when the backup was taken yesterday in your hand.
The local backup is the fastest
way to get your business running again after a server failure. It is cost effective to set up, and with good
backup software it will typically happily run every day or twice a day without
Some local backup software
providers like our recommended Macrium package will allow you to boot your
backup host virtually, reducing the time to get you back online to just a few
minutes in cases where spare hardware is available.
While the local backup is the
most important step, it deals with large volumes of data so it can only be used
around twice per day. Also, with the
best will in the world it is not always possible or practical for someone to
rotate drives every day, or even every week, so it makes sense to have an
A second measure is to back up
your files and data securely to an offsite location regularly. Ideally, this backup will allow the easy
retrieval of individual files and at a minimum it will store all irreplaceable
data from the servers. The offsite
backup should be encrypted both in transit and at rest.
The main purposes of this backup
an individual file has gone missing, or has been overwritten by an
employee. The offsite backup should
allow for easy retrieval of individual files, and should have a retention
period going back long enough for these common occurrences (around three
there has been an IT disaster (fire, theft, failure) and the local image backup
is quite old due to lack of rotation. In
this case you should still be able to retrieve everything by using the image
backup to bring the systems back online and replace the data with the most
recent offsite backup.
Maintaining the backups
Once the backup system has been
decided upon and implemented, it is important to maintain the systems to keep
them operational. This will involve
setting up, reporting and regularly checking the backups to ensure they have
been successful. Regular maintenance of
the backups will also include:
that backups run as expected every day
check that the backups include all of
your important information. It’s not
uncommon for files and network shares to be moved around the network and then
not be included in the backup schedule.
your storage requirements. Local storage
like USB drives are cost effective, however some cloud storage can add up,
particularly when your data is regularly updated and you wish to keep previous
test your backups. Perform a test restore
of a file, a mailbox and a virtual machine to ensure the process works and your
data is complete and not corrupted.
Built-In Backup Measures
Most Windows based networks
already have the facility to retrieve simple files and email without the need
of using an external backup, but it’s a good idea to make sure these are
configured correctly for your requirements.
Previous versions / volume shadow
copy is a way of retrieving files from the past for network shares. Make sure these are enabled and have the
appropriate storage allocated for your needs.
Microsoft Exchange keeps deleted
emails and mailboxes for 30 days after deletion by default, but you can change
these retention periods if you need to.
Let us do it for you
At Alphabyte IT we offer a full
backup management process which covers both local and offsite backups using the
methods above. We operate a backup
schedule which is checked every day to ensure it is worked as expected and will
be there for you when you need it.
Contact us on 02920 022100 to see how we can help.