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The Importance of Data Back-Up

What is Data Backup?

Your PC(s) or laptop(s) will contain a wealth of valuable data which you and your organisation will use on a daily business to operate and would cause a massive disruption if it were to suddenly become unavailable. A Data backup is when you create a copy or copies of your systems settings, configurations, and data. Whether this is on physical external hard drive or through a cloud service, it is the act of creating another version which is separate and safe that can be retrieved in the case of data corruption, deletion or if it is lost or stolen. You can then use the backup copy to restore or recover your data for business continuity and disaster recovery.

It is not uncommon and in fact a good practice to create multiple backup copies, keeping one copy on site for quick recovery and a second copy off-site, or in the cloud to prevent it also being compromised in a cyber-attack or if it through accidental damage or natural disaster. Historically this could be an arduous task, however the emergence of technology has facilitated a much more efficient process with the possibility to back up data remotely and, in large amounts at a time to devices which are a lot smaller and portable than they were previously.

Do I need to do it?

The simple answer is yes.

Backing up your system and data is an important part of data management. With the increase in cyber threats in recent years it is vital to have a data backup as recommended by the NCSC (National Cyber Security Center). If disaster were to strike and your systems became infected with ransomware, with a clean back up you would be able to restore your data without having to give in and pay the ransom demanded. Do not forget to remove the malware from your system first or you risk infecting your backups! Or if your data was stolen in a cyber-attack then you would be able to retrieve it through your backup without having to start from scratch. Backups also protect against human error, hardware failure, other types of cyber-attacks, power outages and natural disasters. When these errors occur, backups save time and money Additional benefits include reduced downtime and being able to maintain good customer relations, implementing a well-designed backup strategy shows that you take data security seriously and assures customers that their data is in good hands.

Furthermore, it is recommended you follow the 3-2-1 rule.

The 3-2-1 rule is to have at least three copies on at least two different devices with at least one of those offline and in a separate location from your main premises to increase the likelihood of a successful back up. It is also a good idea to disconnect your backup device from your computer when the backup is not being done to prevent it from being damaged, corrupted, or stolen alongside your main system. It is strongly advised to enable automatic backups or schedule regular backups, so you don’t have to remember to do it, and your backup copy is kept up to date. It would also be helpful to practice restoring data back to a device, so you know how to do this when the time comes.

What back up options are there?

There are many options that you could use but the most commonly used ones are:

⦁ An external hard drive

⦁ A Network Attached Storage device (NAS)

⦁ An online cloud storage provider (e.g., Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Apple iCloud)

 When considering back up options though it is important to keep security in mind to ensure they too are not compromised.

How can I secure my backups?

Use a secure backup method. There are many ways to back up your desktop PC. Consider the benefits and risks of each carefully as some are more secure than others. For example, backing up your data to an external hard drive that is stored offline in a safe place it can be more secure than backing up your data to a cloud storage service which could be compromised during a cyber-attack. If you are to use a cloud service, ensure you find a reputable provider that has strong security features and always implement 2FA. However, if your hard drive was to be stolen, then your data is lost and cannot be restored as it could with a cloud service, and your data is at the whim of cyber criminals unless you encrypt it.

*Encrypt your backups. If you have sensitive data on your PC, you may want to encrypt your backups using services such as Bit Locker for windows, File Vault for macOS or VeraCrypt for Linux. This will help to protect your data from unauthorized access.

Store your backups in a safe place. Your backups should be stored in a safe place, away from your PC. This will help to protect your backups from damage in the event of a fire, flood, or other disaster.

Change your passwords regularly. If you use a password to encrypt your backups, it's important to change your password regularly. This will help to protect your backups from unauthorized access. However ensure you and any of your employees follow a secure password process to ensure weak passwords are not created.

Be aware of phishing scams. Phishing scams are a common way for hackers to steal your personal information. Be aware of phishing scams and don't click on links in emails or text messages from unknown senders.

By following these tips, you can help to keep your backups secure. This will give you peace of mind knowing that your data is safe, even if your PC fails.

Here are some additional security considerations when backing up your desktop PC:

Use a strong password for your backup software. This will help to protect your backups from unauthorized access.

Keep your backup software up to date. Software updates often include security patches that can help to protect your backups from vulnerabilities.

Scan your backups for malware before using them in a restoration just in case they were infected before you became aware of any threat.

By following these security considerations, you can help to keep your backups secure. Whatever method or combination of methods you decide to use a solid backup and data protection strategy is essential to the smooth operation of any business.

Useful Links:

How to back up windows PC/Laptop

How to back up MacOS/Laptop,of%20your%20Time%20Machine%20backup.

NCSC small business guide to backing up your data:

NI Cyber security center article on data back up:

NAS a complete guide:

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