3 Questions You Must Answer Before Backing Up


For every 20 companies that suffer a serious data loss incident, only 19 will still remain in business within a year.

The corporate data stored on your servers is the life blood of your company. And having an air-tight disaster plan is absolutely essential for today’s digital business environment.

The job of the backup administrator has changed a lot in recent years. And this role is only going to get more challenging in the future.

Simple data protection is no longer enough. Today’s backups need to be:

  • Fast
  • Cost-effective
  • Flexible
  • Efficient
  • Fool-proof
  • Secure
  • Up-to-date
  • Legally compliant

A poorly planned backup process will most likely be error-prone, expensive, and inadequate for the needs of your company. That’s why you need to put together a business impact analysis first, so that you can gain a better understanding of how data is used within your organization.

Once you understand these requirements, there are 3 key questions that you should ask before putting together your backup strategy.

  • How Much Data Are You Backing Up And Why?
  • How will this data be secured?
  • How fast will you need to restore?

These might sound like simple questions to answer. But as you’ll see in this presentation, they actually require a lot of careful thought and consideration.

How Much Data Are You Backing Up And Why?

If you answered “I’m backing up all of my data because I can’t afford to lose any of it”, then you probably haven’t properly planned for your backups.

As a backup administrator, you have to balance out storage costs, recovery speed, backup windows, legal concerns, data growth and many other factors. Minimizing the amount of data you back up won’t just improve the overall backup process, but it will also allow you to be more flexible as requirements change in the future.

Here are a few common scenarios:

  • Although critical business files such as Word documents need to be backed up, employees might download large video and music files from the Internet which don’t need to be backed up.
  • If a file hasn’t been accessed in over 2 years, does it really need to be on the main production server? Or can it be stored on less expensive media at another location?
  • If all of the desktops in your organization have the same configuration, you don’t need to create a system image backup for each. Just a single copy will do.
  • You can greatly reduce the size of your backup storage by using deduplication to compress the data.
  • Many types of data – such as cache data or log files – can be deleted without causing any harm to the organization.

As an added bonus to the cost-saving and flexibility benefits mentioned above, keeping your backups small will also help maintain faster recovery times and minimal backup windows.

How will this data be secured?

When most of us think about securing our backups, we’re usually only thinking about the security of the physical media device. But it’s much better to think of protection in terms of the data itself.

  • A common scenario is for companies to store their backup tapes inside of a fire safe. But in the event of a fire, these tapes will melt.
  • How many copies of your backups will you need?  Some companies keep one copy on-site and another at a remote storage facility. Others will also keep a third copy at an alternate recovery site.
  • In addition to your incremental backups, do you also need a raw, tamper-proof copy of your data to serve as evidence in the event of a lawsuit?
  • Is your stored data encrypted in case of theft? And do you need to send your data over the network using an encrypted connection?
  • Does your backup storage facility provide adequate security measures such as security guards, video cameras, fire suppression systems and emergency generators?
  • After how many years will you delete your historical archives, and how often will you test them for consistency?

These are all important considerations to keep in mind. And your company might be subject to external regulations which dictate how this data must be handled.

How fast will you need to restore?

Your recovery speed requirements should be outlined as part of your business continuity and disaster recovery plan. You should also have a clear idea of which revenue-generating activities take priority in an emergency.

This will help you decide things such as what data gets kept on-site and, which servers require emergency failover facilities and how much data you can afford to lose in an emergency.

These questions might seem like a lot of work, but all of these factors come into play when deciding which backup media is best-suited for various parts of your backup and recovery process.

Once you’re able to answer these three questions, you should have a much clearer idea of how to best-secure your corporate data.

For more information on how to craft a corporate data protection strategy for your organization, please visit

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