Backup Planning: 4 Steps to Creating a Backup Plan and Strategy

    Creating an effective backup plan involves determining the critical data, selecting an appropriate solution, establishing a schedule for backups, and regularly testing them.

    Backup Planning Introduction

    As increasing amounts of data are stored and shared between businesses and individuals and as cyberattacks become increasingly sophisticated, data backup planning has become an integral part of organizations of any size. In fact, with the rise of remote working, alongside an increase in local, national, and international compliance frameworks, ensuring regular and reliable backups is a growing challenge for cybersecurity professionals.

    Our data backup strategy guide will help you plan, implement, and manage a comprehensive data backup system that will allow your organization to mitigate any data loss and downtime while also helping you follow a range of best practices that protect both you and your customers and clients.




    What is Backup Planning?

    Cyber-security professionals considering what a backup strategy involves, should keep in mind that backup planning is simply the process of creating and implementing a blueprint that ensures important data and systems can be restored in the event of a failure or disaster.

    This typically includes regularly creating backups of important data and systems, as well as testing and updating the plan to ensure it remains effective. The goal of backup planning is to minimize the risk of data loss and minimize the amount of time it takes to restore systems and data in the event of a failure.

    What makes data backup crucial for businesses?

    In today’s interconnected digital landscape, data is one of the most valuable assets for businesses of all sizes, and having a robust data backup plan and strategy are crucial for all organizations.

    Some of the reasons for implementing a solid data backup strategy include –

    • Cyber Threat Protection
    • Meeting Compliance Requirements
    • Business Operational Continuity
    • Safeguarding Reputation
    • Financial Impact Mitigation

    Why Is Data Backup Important?

    Data backup is a critical part of any cybersecurity program as it ensures that important data and systems are protected from potential threats. Without backup planning, organizations are exposed to the risk of serious data loss and an inability to quickly restore data or systems in the event of a failure or disaster.

    Not only can this impact an organization’s operations, but it can also lead to the violation of compliance frameworks, which may result in significant fines or other sanctions.

    4 Steps to Creating a Backup Plan and Strategy

    Data backup planning is an essential aspect of data management and disaster recovery. It involves identifying the critical data and systems that need to be protected, determining the appropriate backup methods, and creating a schedule for regularly creating and testing backups.

    Step 1: Determine the scope of your dataset

    Determining the scope and identifying the critical data and systems that need to be protected should be the first step as you lay out your data backup strategy. This includes important business and financial information, customer data, and any other data that is essential to the operation of the organization.

    Step 2: Decide how often to backup data

    Next, you must determine a schedule for regularly creating and testing data backups. This schedule should be based on the importance of the data and systems being protected and should consider the potential impact of data loss.

    Step 3: Select a data backup solution

    Several different technologies can be used within your data backup system, including full backups, incremental backups, and differential backups. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the appropriate method will depend on the specific needs of the organization.

    Step 4: Put the data backup strategy to the test

    Finally, regularly testing the backups to ensure they can be successfully restored is crucial. This will help to ensure that the organization is prepared in case of a failure or disaster and can minimize the risk of data loss and minimize the amount of time it takes to restore systems and data. Should any issues arise, then you can revise your data backup plan to resolve them and increase reliability over time.

    What Are the Different Types of Data Backup?

    The size, scope, and sensitivity of the data your organization deals with on a daily basis will very much dictate the type of backup system you use. Additionally, organizations will need to consider recovery time objectives (RTO), as well as the possibility of data encryption.

    In many cases, organizations will use a combination of multiple systems, for example, a full backup once per year and incremental backups throughout the year. Additionally, most data backup plans for the most sensitive data should also include an off-site storage facility.

    Today, organizations are likely to use either one or multiple backup systems of those listed below:

    • Full Backup: A full backup is a complete copy of all the data on a specific system or storage device. It includes all files, folders, and system settings and is typically the most comprehensive type of backup.
    • Incremental Backup: An incremental backup only backs up the files that have been modified since the last backup. It's a faster and more efficient way of backup, but not as comprehensive as a full backup.
    • Differential Backup: A differential backup backs up all the files that have been modified since the last full backup.
    • Mirror Backup: Also known as "block-level" backup, this type of backup creates a replica of the original data and is usually used for servers and other mission-critical systems.
    • Cloud Backup: Cloud backup is a method of storing copies of data on remote servers, usually in the cloud. This allows data to be accessed from any location with an internet connection.
    • Tape Backup: Tape backup is a method of storing data on magnetic tape. Tape backups are often used to store large amounts of data and are typically stored off-site for disaster recovery purposes.

    Data Backup Strategy Best Practices

    When it comes to valuable data, employing comprehensive and robust backup strategies is crucial. Ultimately, your backup plan is your insurance against data loss, and ensuring that it works effectively and efficiently is critical to operations and maintaining privacy. Backup strategy best practices include:

    • Test and verify backups: Regularly test and verify backups to ensure that they can be successfully restored in the event of a failure or disaster.
    • Store backups in multiple locations: Keep multiple copies of backups in different locations, such as on-site and off-site, to protect against data loss due to natural disasters, theft, or other physical threats.
    • Use encryption: Secure backups with encryption to protect sensitive data and comply with regulations.
    • Automate and schedule backups: Automate the backup process and schedule it to run at a convenient time and ensure that there is enough storage space to store the backups.
    • Review and update the plan: Regularly review and update the backup plan to ensure that it remains effective and that new data and systems are included in the backup schedule.
    • Keep a disaster recovery plan in place: A disaster recovery plan is an essential part of a backup strategy that outlines the procedures for restoring data and systems in the event of a failure or disaster.
    • Train employees: Ensure employees understand the importance of data backup and the procedures to follow in case of data loss.
    • Check compliance: Ensure that the backup plan complies with relevant laws and regulations, such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, or GDPR.

    Mimecast Data Backup Solutions

    Mimecast’s backup and recovery products deliver simplified solutions to your data backup strategies. Featuring comprehensive email backup and recovery with fast search and granular control over retention and archiving, Mimecast Sync & Recover established a layered defense against all email, contact, and calendar data loss.

    This includes both malicious cyberattacks and inadvertent or accidental data losses, all packaged into a unified solution that is highly scalable. This also includes, integrated compliance management and simplified remediation and problem-solving to identify and avoid future issues, ensuring your backup systems are always reliable.

    For more information on Mimecast’s data backup solutions or any other of our security products, contact us today to discuss your specific requirements, or explore our blog for more insights into the latest cybersecurity landscape.

    Backup Planning and Strategy FAQs

    What is the 3-2-1- backup rule?

    The 3-2-1 backup rule means having at least three copies of your data – your primary data and two backups – on two different media types, stored on at least two different types of devices, and located at one off-site location at minimum. Keeping at least one backup copy in an off-site location protects data against physical disasters, theft, or on-site data corruption.

    What does the 4-3-2 backup strategy involve?

    The 4-3-2 backup strategy is another approach to data backup, where four copies of the data are stored in three locations, but two of those locations must be off-site. This strategy adds an extra layer of redundancy, ensuring that data remains secure and recoverable in the face of diverse challenges.

    Which is the fastest backup strategy?

    The speed of a backup strategy depends on various factors, including the volume of data, the chosen backup method, and the available resources. Full backups tend to be slower than e.g. differential backups or incremental backups, that only capture changes since the last backup. Internet speed is also a significant factor – cloud backup solutions, leveraging high-speed internet connections, can also offer fast data transfer and retrieval.

    Which is the best type of backup?

    The best type of backup depends on the organization's specific needs and considerations. Different backup methods offer varying levels of speed, comprehensiveness, and efficiency. Here are some considerations –

    • Full Backup – Comprehensive but may be time-consuming and resource-intensive.
    • Incremental Backup – Faster, capturing only changes since the last backup.
    • Differential Backup – Balances speed and completeness, capturing changes since the last full backup.
    • Backup – Offers flexibility and accessibility, allowing data to be stored offsite with remote access.
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