Backups part 4: best practices
Backup blog series table of contents
In the concluding part of this series, we will go over the best practices incorporated into a backup strategy. Ideally, you’ll always have at least one copy at hand of your data. There will always be that one moment that that copy might come into handy, for example when your computer crashed or your SSD/HDD became faulty. It’s even better to keep more than one copy. A known strategy states that at least 3 copies of data should be kept: 2 local backups and one backup that is kept off-site.
This simple yet effective method of keeping at least 3 copies of data is called the “3-2-1 backup strategy”. 2 local copies should be made on 2 different media. These copies will be stored locally. The third copy is stored offsite or on a remote place. This method will leave you 3 different ways to solve an issue related to your data. The fastest way to restore compromised data would be the use of the local copies. The offsite copy should not be too far away, yet still far enough that it cannot be compromised by a problem in the production environment.
In most cases, 3 backups is more than sufficient. A higher amount would mean it would take more time to manage these backups and it would also require more storage for the backups. It actually just boils down to finding the balance between just enough backups to be safe and a number that assures that managing that number won’t be too time consuming.
The backup frequency is something that should be taken into consideration when developing a backup plan. It’s a must in any kind of backup strategy. One could do this with manual backups, which eventually would mean a lot of work needs to happen. The human factor is however a liability, as you can never be sure that a person that is commissioned with taking the backups might forget or skip some moments. Therefore automated backup would be the better solution for a long term backup strategy. Automated backups allow backups to run monthly, weekly, daily or even hourly, depending on what you exactly need. Next to the frequency, another thing is how long a backup will be stored before it will be deleted. Usually this gets the defined by the maximum copies that will be kept of a certain backup. For example: you have a location on your computer that gets a backup once a week, but you also decide to keep 5 backups at most of that location. That means, a backup will be kept at least 5 weeks before it gets deleted (unless you decide to keep it for a particular reason).
To develop a backup strategy plan, you can always start with asking the following questions:
- What is being backed up?
- Where will the backups be stored?
- How frequent will backups be taken?
- What methods will be used to make backups?
- How long will a backup be stored?
- What software and hardware will be used for the backups?
- How frequent will you perform a full backup?
- What are the issues with the backup system and how can they be fixed?
- What recovery procedure will there defined?
The following things need to be taken into consideration as well:
- Testing the backup strategy
- Reviewing the backup strategy from time to time
- Informing the personnel about this backup policy
If you take the above list as a base, you will be able to develop a good backup strategy that should work for you or your company.