Data Protection Wellness Plan

Simple strategies to help get your backups into shape.

We know we’re supposed to eat right and exercise but putting that knowledge into practice can be a challenge. Unfortunately, the same holds true for data backups in many organizations.

Businesses without a sound data protection plan leave themselves vulnerable to the many threats that can corrupt, destroy or deny access to critical information. Natural disasters, theft, malware, equipment failure and human error can strike at any time and without warning. When critical operational information such as sales histories, inventory figures or accounts receivables are lost, organizations can expend valuable time and resources in an attempt to recover that information.

“Because organizations are highly dependent on data that is essential to daily operations, effective data protection is critical,” said Jeff Andrews, Executive Vice President, IPC. “While backup is challenging in today’s ‘always on’ environment, it is the only safeguard against the costly and often devastating business disruption that can result from major data loss. This is increasingly true in today’s ‘software-defined’ IT environment, where everything from the phone system to the network is delivered via software.”

Luckily, data backup options have evolved to accommodate growing data volumes, new IT models and changing business requirements. Here are some steps organizations should take to ensure effective data protection:

Take a good look: Examine your current data storage requirements and estimate future data growth. When calculating how much and what type of data storage capacity you’ll need in the future, consider that data doubles every 18 to 24 months as a general rule.

Commit to a schedule: Once you’ve done a full assessment of your systems and files, categorize the data based upon how much data loss is acceptable. Continuous data protection may be required for mission-critical applications, while daily incremental backups and weekly full backups may be adequate for other types of data.

Leave no stone unturned: In today’s mobile business environment, information is constantly on the go, while being subjected to variable and sometimes unfavorable conditions. Make sure your data backup plan considers laptops, tablets, smartphones and home office computers.

Avoid a false sense of security: Nothing can be riskier than believing you are protected against data loss, only to find out that is not the case. Test your backups frequently to ensure the information is recorded correctly and can be restored if needed. Most importantly, keep your backups at an offsite location to increase the odds that one set of information will always be safe and secure. Cloud storage can be a cost-effective solution for offsite backups.

Take extra precaution: When it comes to credit card numbers, social security data, and other sensitive information, you can never be too safe. Encrypt data while at rest on storage media and in transit across the network to protect against a costly and embarrassing data breach.

Develop a data governance strategy: Many organizations continue to back up data that is seldom, if ever, accessed or changed. An effective data governance strategy can relieve backup processes by archiving data that must be preserved for long-term storage and deleting information that is no longer needed.

Ensure regulatory compliance: Government regulations such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley mandate the security, accessibility and retention of information. These regulations make it even more critical to evaluate current record-keeping practices and the storage and security infrastructure to ensure requirements are being met. Organizations that do not comply could face stiff financial and even criminal penalties.

Technological advances and increased networked communications have helped bring about an explosive growth in the digital landscape. There is simply more information than ever before. Research firm IDC has predicted that the “digital universe” will reach 44 zettabytes (44 trillion gigabytes) by 2020.

Effective data protection has never been more imperative. Organizations should establish a solid backup regimen to ensure good business health.