Today, most tasks we do rely on managing data.
From intelligent kitchen appliances through GPS to finishing a day’s work, digital information is all up in our lives. It doesn’t matter if you’re a home setup user or operate an enterprise – data access and availability are essential to complete the packed schedule of our routines.
Now, if the data we use is somehow compromised, we need to spend time, effort, and sometimes money to get it operational again. We call the event of compromising data with the broad term “disaster”. While recovering said data is referred to as “disaster recovery”.
Disasters can be several when it comes to data – natural (earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes), self-inflicted (human error), or cyberattacks (ransomware, Trojans, DDoS attacks, etc.)
While we have no control over natural disasters, we can try to manage other types of data compromise. Both individuals and businesses should have a sensible DR solution to keep their systems protected and capable of complete data recovery on the spot.
To prepare you for potential data issues, we share what we perceive as the best data recovery practices out there.
Let’s explore them together!
Types of Disaster Recovery
First off, let’s study the different disaster recovery types to determine which ones suit our goals best. By doing so, we can cut costs, optimize security, and conveniently recover data if needed.
Disaster Recovery via Cloud
We start with an option suitable for both home users and business networks.
Backing up your data regularly to a cloud enables you to recover data whenever you like; of course, you’d need a stable internet connection and an operating device to download the data to.
Cloud-based backups are extremely popular at the moment, and there are plenty of reasons for that:
- They are cost-efficient
- They enable smart backup and recovery options
- They are built with modern data threats in mind
Now, let’s expand a bit on the benefits of cloud backups.
Most cloud backup solutions enable users to schedule regular backups (daily, weekly, monthly) depending on their needs. Once you’ve set up the backup schedule, you don’t need to engage it unless you wish to manage settings.
Furthermore, cloud storage providers are continuously evolving, given the competition in the field. This leads to lower prices and competitive services for those who aren’t shy to research. The most reliable cloud backup solutions can spot disaster recovery vulnerabilities within your systems, work to fix them, and implement better security protocols.
In addition to high-tier encryption, innovative backup options, and threat detection in real-time, the cloud enables you to focus on active tasks throughout the day, knowing all of your data is safe outside of your physical location.
In addition, having all of your data on the cloud means there’s no need to spend additional resources on recovery facilities, servers, and personnel. Nonetheless, we’d keep an extra copy of our operational data on-site or at a physical storage facility to cover all the options.
Disaster Recovery via Data Center
Going over to more old-school solutions, data center disaster (DCDR) recovery aims to build a whole physical facility to store and secure vital data.
In DCDR, we use physical security measures, backup power optimization, HVAC, security personnel, utility providers, fire suppression measures, and more to guarantee the entirety of all data backups.
A well-rounded DCDR strategy enables faster disaster recovery as all of your data is stored physically on the company premises. Even if a cyber-attack penetrates your security, you can restore all data through physical storage.
However, storing all of your crucial data on-site is more costly and requires enhanced backup management. You’d need to know the location and content of all folders and subfolders to initiate a quick disaster recovery. This task requires additional personnel, systems maintenance, and educational courses to keep all responsible employees in the loop.
Lastly, DCDR is vulnerable to natural disasters. If a flood engulfs your backup facilities, you’d need a digital copy to restore your data. And if you lack such a copy, you’d lose all of your data.
Disaster recovery as a Service (DRaaS) combines the two previous approaches to provide an ultimate backup solution for enterprises.
While most modern DRaaS vendors rely on cloud solutions, DRaaS is not entirely cloud-based. Many disaster recovery service providers offer physical (site-to-site) options through secondary storage facilities. An additional storage facility means more expenses, but it also provides you with an extra backup of all operational data in a separate location.
Furthermore, DRaaS providers can build complete copies of your server facility – a physical backup office to negate potential downtime if a disaster strikes your HQ.
On the virtual front, cloud-based disaster recovery services offer advanced backup and recovery options:
- Immediate apps failover
- Instant failback to rebuild servers
- VPN establishment and remote desktop protocol connections
All of the above intend to guarantee minimal to no downtime in the event of a data breach, leak, or destruction. Some DRaaS providers use in-house software and hardware, while others rely on third-party vendors to provide a full DR build. The first option provides a solid solution, built from start to finish by one entity, while the second enables a wider variety of services presented by multiple parties.
Disaster Recovery via Virtualization
Virtualization DR is a specific option; its main objective is to build and store backup servers on the cloud.
Contrary to physical server backup, virtualization enables businesses to have an operating server backup without the need to rebuild it if a disaster strikes physically.
A significant benefit of this approach is reducing targeted recovery time objectives (RTO) which may arise if your physical servers are compromised and you lack a ready-to-go copy off-site.
Disaster Recovery Best Practices
Proper disaster recovery comprises planning, reliable software, and best practices. Below, we’ll share our guidelines for robust DR, both for individuals and businesses.
Let’s begin with the home user approach.
DR Practices for Individuals
If you are a freelancer, your PC or laptop are your working station. You can hold virtually all needed data to procure your services with you at all times. And while this is convenient, it can also put all of your operational information at risk. When it comes to individual users, corruption of any data on your device can require disaster recovery.
To start, having a single operational device is cost-efficient, but it puts all of your eggs in one basket.
If you’re using a laptop, and it malfunctions or gets stolen, you’d be left with no active working station. Not to mention the data loss if you don’t have available backups elsewhere. Additionally, a successful cyber-attack can hold your data captive or straight-out delete it.
To have all of your data available at all times, here are a few practices to implement within your work system.
- Make regular backups of vital data to an external hard drive; additionally, you can purchase a password-protected external HDD to ensure only you can access it.
- Initiate regular data backups to the cloud; additionally, you can use multiple cloud providers to ensure at least one operational copy is active at all times.
- Have a backup PC or laptop – this way, even if your primary device is unavailable, you can switch to your backup, download backed up data, and proceed to operate until you fix your primary device.
- Install a cybersecurity solution on your system to keep track of threats, negate malicious attacks, and ease data backup.
DR Practices for Businesses
Disaster recovery requires expanded efforts when you’re operating a business. It needs to consider more vulnerabilities, monitor a higher volume of business-critical data, and manage responsible employees.
To ease the process at your facility, let’s compactify the guidelines of sensible DR.
- Data assessment and potential operational risks
First and foremost, you need to assess all essential data on your servers to determine associated risks. Data and tech infrastructure usually grow organically within companies; to ensure no block in the chain is liable to compromise, you need to go over all processes, data storage options, device security and compile a risk management plan.
- DR Plan development
Once we’ve assessed all risks, it’s time to form a plan based on our findings. Starting with inventory, your company should identify data locations, system priorities during downtime, and proper compliance requirements. Also, you could map out power redundancies to initiate a replicating data system on- or off-site.
- Resume processes protocol
Protecting your data is just the first part of disaster recovery. The second one is having a robust strategy to re-access said data in a disaster. This means educating your staff to know which systems to prioritize during an outage, calculate network recovery time-frame, and integrate DR equipment to replace damaged infrastructure.
- Cybersecurity solutions
Building a disaster recovery plan for an enterprise is a monumental task. It’s okay to rely on professional assistance. Many cybersecurity providers nowadays offer DR plans in addition to standard cybersecurity features. You could benefit from various services – automated backup, real-time data restore, threat monitoring, and downtime management.