In 2022, online presence is critical for small businesses, which means every organization of that type generates, processes and stores data. Those data volumes can include configured virtual machines and hosts, personal data of clients, and other data pieces that are crucial for an organization. Therefore, organizing strong digital security, data protection and disaster recovery is not a bonus option but a vital necessity for every small business.
What is disaster recovery? How is it different from backup? Which elements are critical when building a disaster recovery plan? In this article, we answer those and some other questions.
- Cloud Data Backup and Disaster Recovery: What’s the Difference?
- Why Are Small Businesses Vulnerable to Data Loss?
- How to Build a Reliable Disaster Recovery Plan?
- Types of Cloud Backup
Cloud Data Backup and Disaster Recovery: What’s the Difference?
Business leaders can think that obtaining a cloud data backup is enough to make their organizations prepared for disaster recovery (DR). However, DR and backups are not the same.
- A backup is a copy of data that is stored separately and can be used for recovery when the original data is lost. Thus, a cloud data backup is a data copy stored in the cloud.
- Disaster recovery is a process planned and set to restore the functionality of an organization after a large-scale disruption occurs. DR plans suppose the use of relevant backups as vital elements of the organization’s recovery strategy.
To know the difference between a backup and a disaster recovery plan, you should understand that obtaining any backup does not mean that you have a DR plan. A backup can help you restore files, application objects, and other data items in case of a minor disruption or unplanned deletion of the original. Disaster recovery functionalities and solutions go above and beyond the basic file restoration possibilities: they can recover systems and environments.
For example, when your organization’s main server is the target of a successful ransomware attack, it’s not only about the data that is lost. Besides regular data items, you lose a functional IT infrastructure with applications, configuration settings and other minor adjustments that enable your custom solutions to work properly as a system.
To bring your organization back online and functioning properly with minimal financial and reputational losses, you need to restore not only data but your IT environment in minutes rather than days or hours. That’s when a solid disaster recovery plan comes in handy.
Why Are Small Businesses Vulnerable to Data Loss?
The main downside of small organizations is their limited budget which makes effective cyber protection of critical data unaffordable. Numbers confirm that bad actors are aware of insufficient data protection budgets: 43% of all cyberattacks are conducted against small businesses. The situation is especially spectacular with ransomware attacks, 71% of which target smaller organizations that are easy prey and more likely to pay the ransom.
The lack of budget to invest in cybersecurity results in other troubles, such as:
- No qualified security staff
- No solutions to protect the organization’s environment
Additionally, small business leaders may misunderstand a threat (“my company is too small to be a target”) or underestimate recovery costs. These and other minor factors make smaller companies extremely vulnerable: 60% of small organizations close within six months after a single data loss disaster and never continue operations.
How to Build a Reliable Disaster Recovery Plan?
Creating a working disaster recovery plan is a challenging and thorough task that requires time and effort. Nevertheless, keeping up with certain recommendations when going through the process can help you generate an efficient plan able to protect your organization’s data and infrastructure. Here are six points to consider before and during the process of DR plan creation.
1. Know what to back up
Although your organization is small, you might have terabytes of data stored, created and processed regularly. Not all of that data is critical for your business to function. Therefore, you can start creating an optimized disaster recovery plan by prioritizing the data to back up.
To do that, map out your IT environment structure and sort your data by priority. For example, intellectual property documents, a website and a client database are crucial for your business to operate. On the other hand, staff workstations can have default settings thus enabling quick and easy system reinstallation without full data recovery.
2. Define RTO and RPO
After the critical system elements are known, define two parameters:
- RTO (recovery time objective) – the maximum downtime your organization can tolerate
- RPO (recovery point objective) – the maximum amount of data your organization can lose when a disaster strikes
Keep in mind that tighter RPOs and shorter RTOs mean involving more resources. For example, to shorten recovery time, you need more hardware performance and network bandwidth. To get tighter recovery points, you also need to get more storage space for your backups.
3. Secure backups
Cybercriminals develop their approaches and malware regularly to bypass the latest security systems and counter data protection approaches, including cloud backup for business organizations. In simple words, your data backups can and will become targets for a cyberattack to leave you without the recovery resources. Securing your backup repositories is critical for data safety and backup availability.
Contemporary backup and disaster recovery solutions, such as backup to cloud from NAKIVO, enable securing backups from unauthorized access, alteration, or deletion in both local, remote, and cloud repositories. Backup software can be protected with, for example, two-factor authentication and role-based access control. Backup repositories can benefit from immutability, which is especially effective as anti-ransomware protection. Backups in immutable repositories cannot be changed or deleted throughout the set period, even if ransomware reaches such a repository.
4. Share responsibilities
Your organization is small, but if you are not the only person working on the development of your business, use available human resources to boost the efficiency of disaster recovery. Share responsibilities between team members to define who is responsible for:
- Data backup workflows
- Notifying clients
- Contacting partners
- Messaging regulatory officials
- Verifying data
- Performing recovery processes
Disaster recovery is not limited to IT operations, the process can and should include administrative, regulatory, and PR points to ensure your business’s stability and continuity. With the critical areas covered you can restore the organization’s functioning smoother and quicker to minimize financial and reputational losses.
5. Set a recovery process
After you found out critical data to restore, defined the required RPO and RTO, got the secured backups and distributed responsibility areas between team members, setting a recovery process is simple. Make sure you have the required hardware resources and storage space at your disposal and then plan the step-by-step recovery of your IT infrastructure.
The most efficient way to ensure fast and smooth recovery is to automate the entire chain of workflows. Recovery automation helps to accelerate processes by excluding human factors. With the help of modern disaster recovery solutions, you can set a custom process in advance and then initiate the restoration of your environment with a single click.
6. Verify backup recoverability
The worst time to find out that your relevant backup is unrecoverable is when your IT environment has already fallen victim to a disaster. To exclude this situation and its consequences, set up the process to check the recoverability of your backups right after they are created. If the backup is fine, you can be sure that your organization keeps up with the required RPO and RTO requirements in case of disaster. When the backup is unrecoverable due to some reason, you can create a new one to ensure data protection and recovery.
Types of Cloud Backup
Cloud backup is a suitable option for small businesses with limited resources and funds. Here are four main types of cloud backup services for small businesses.
Public cloud backup
The simplest way to provide cloud backup and restoration of data for a small business organization is to send backup copies to the public cloud. Public clouds are typical cloud storage services such as Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Amazon or Wasabi. With this type, you need a data protection solution that supports the chosen public cloud storage. Additional data protection measures may be required if you want to ensure backup security.
Backing up to a service provider
Many providers offer cloud data backup services. In this case, you only purchase and integrate a software solution that supports cloud backup from a service provider. This is probably the best cloud backup for a small business. In addition to saving costs on staff and storage maintenance, contemporary solutions enable providers to offer all-in-one backup and restoration of data, including disaster recovery functionality.
A cloud-to-cloud (C2C) backup enables you to copy the data from one cloud environment to another. That is how you avoid a single point of failure when using cloud storage as your main one. Usually, the providers of cloud-to-cloud services provide the required backup software solutions to automate workflows.
On-premise to cloud
The idea of this backup type is similar to C2C. You can have the original or backup data stored on-premises and boost the reliability of your data protection by sending copies to the cloud. Again, service providers normally have the software to schedule and automate data transfer.
Small businesses are vulnerable to data loss because of their limited financial and human resources. Regarding the awareness of hackers about these organizations’ weaknesses, every small business needs a backup and disaster recovery strategy. The key steps when creating a DR plan are:
- Define what to back up
- Define RPO and RTO
- Secure backups from unauthorized access and risks
- Share recovery responsibilities between team members
- Set and automate a recovery process
- Regularly verify backup recoverability
The four types of cloud backup are:
- Public cloud backup
- Backing up to a service provider
- Cloud-to-cloud (C2C)
- On-premise to cloud