Your first backup conversation: What to know, what to ask

By May 21, 2018Backup
Data backup storage concept

You may wonder where to start if you’re investigating a backup solution for your business or organization for the first time. There are many backup options out there and solutions can be highly customized… sometimes for what seem like arcane reasons.

At OXEN, we’ve had many conversations about backup. Here are some of the basic questions we ask. You can get a head start on answering these questions to get some direction on how simple or advanced your ideal backup solution should be. There is a difference between a simple file backup service and a full system backup solution with virtualization capabilities. You may need one more than the other!

#1 Why do you want a backup solution?

Are you looking for a way to back up your files so you can restore them if they’re accidentally deleted? Or are you concerned about keeping your business or organization running even in the event of a disaster? Maybe somewhere in the middle?

Investigate the problems, risks, and requirements that you need to address with a backup solution. Being clear about the “why” helps you find the backup option that really meets your needs, rather than one that’s too simple or underpowered or one that’s more expensive or feature-rich than you’ll realistically need.

#2 How much data do you want to back up?

Size matters. Even with simple backups, you’ll probably need an estimate of how much storage space is going to be required. With estimating more complex backups, or a business continuity and disaster recovery solution, you’ll need to know what data and systems you need to back up and how much storage space that requires.

Don’t worry – you won’t need to do all the math yourself (your IT provider has that covered). But having a basic idea of your data size means that people can estimate possible local and offsite storage options and virtualization for you.

#3 How long do you need to keep your data backups?

Retention and recovery time are two big concepts in backup. We’ll get to recovery time in a moment, but first: retention. Retention is how long you need to store your data backups. Is it OK if your data backups only go back 2 weeks? Are you required by rules or regulations in your industry to retain backups for up to 2 years? You need to know. Once again, this will determine what type of backup solution will fit your needs.

#4 How quickly do you need to recover?

This question can also be phrased: How much money can you afford to lose if you experience downtime? If your systems are down and your data is inaccessible, what’s your tolerance? Do you have hard deadlines or customer expectations you won’t be able to meet if you can’t work? What will downtime do to your productivity, profitability, and reputation?

If you know you have little tolerance for downtime, you’ll need to recover quickly to a working state. A simple file/folder backup service won’t cut it if your systems are inoperable or your hardware has been destroyed in a disaster.  You’re looking for a business continuity and disaster recovery backup solution. This is the type of backup strategy that incorporates local and offsite backups and the ability to virtualize and spin up your systems on a local or offsite device or in the cloud.

#5 Local or offsite? Virtualization or not?

Now we’re getting into the more technical questions – but they’re going to come up at some point. Simply put: Where do you want to store your backups? Your working data is local, but where do you want your backed-up data to be stored to keep it safe?

Essentially, you have three options: local storage or offsite storage or both. With local storage, your data is backed up an onsite device, such as a NAS or a USB drive. With offsite storage (or what’s sometimes called offsite replication), your data backups are stored in someone else’s facility, or even multiple facilities for redundancy.

And then there’s virtualization, which you can be break down similarly: local or offsite. Virtualization means that your full system backup can be restored and spun up somewhere else if your original systems and hardware are unusable. You can recover to a local device – once again, something like a NAS or a server. You can also recover on an offsite device – in someone else’s data center or cloud, for example.

The question of local or offsite or both, for your backups and your recovery options, is determined by what you think your risks are.

If you’re concerned that a natural disaster such as a flood, tornado, or fire might destroy your electronics and local facility, then choosing local and offsite backup options means you can still recover even if your local backup device is also destroyed.

Maybe you just want to be able to restore data files and folders if they’re accidentally corrupted or deleted, and that would require a much simpler data backup solution.

Now you’re on the road to your ideal backup solution

Those are just five questions to get you started:

  • Why do you want a backup solution?
  • How much data do you need to backup?
  • How long do you need to retain your backups?
  • How quickly do you need to recover your data?
  • Do you want local and/or offsite storage and virtualization?

If you’re ready for the next step in discussing the right backup solution for you, reach out to our experts here at OXEN Technology. We’d love to talk to you about our backup and BCDR solutions and what’s right for you.


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