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A woman’s hand holds a padlock between two fingers suspended over the open hand of a second woman. Their arms appear against a background image of a cloud. Design by Samantha Shin

What makes a comprehensive data backup strategy?

With the move toward a hybrid work environment, business backup needs are evolving beyond the cloud.

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For most of recorded history, the fragility of paper made our information painfully vulnerable, not just because it was so easily destroyed but also because it was so hard to duplicate. Advances in digital technology have granted modern society the ability to secure data in ways unimaginable to our ancestors. One could be forgiven, then, in this era of rugged servers and plentiful backup services, for thinking the longevity of our data is all but guaranteed.

However, organizations big and small continue to fall victim to a false sense of security provided by a basic cloud or local backup. Companies and individuals still suffer data loss due to inadequate backup strategies, even if they do back up on-premises data and do much of their work on public cloud services. Hackers also often target backups, meaning secure backup requires backing up those backups.

So what does a comprehensive data backup strategy look like today? It starts with understanding why a growing reliance on the cloud has changed businesses’ backup needs.

Backups: more critical than ever

As companies embrace hybrid work environments, their needs around data backups have changed.

Not only are more people working away from traditional offices, but they’re also doing more of their work in the cloud. That means files, emails, and other data may reside in off-premises data centers. On the one hand, using cloud services ensures that companies and employees can get their data anywhere, any time, no matter what happens to laptops and other gear. On the other hand, that means they must also take additional steps to safeguard cloud data.

For example, a healthcare provider with hundreds of Microsoft 365 users and scores of servers and workstations has to shape its backup and disaster recovery strategy around both on-premises and cloud data to safeguard vital patient data. That’s because while large public cloud services do perform backups of their own and maintain some of the most secure data centers in the world to protect customer data, they place ultimate responsibility for protecting data from loss on customers. That includes a recommendation to regularly back up the data they maintain for customers on third-party services.

One provider of such solutions is Synology, a company that helps organizations of all sizes manage, store, and back up on-premises and cloud data. Synology makes network-attached storage (NAS) and storage area network (SAN) devices, provides cloud storage services, and offers Microsoft 365 backup and backup software. (To note, the backup software that runs natively on Synology NAS servers is license-free, saving organizations money while giving them peace of mind.)

Backups of on-premises and cloud data also protect businesses and individuals against attack by hackers and malicious insiders. Ransomware, which encrypts data until victims pay up, often targets backups, for example. Disgruntled employees have been known to wreak havoc on operational data as a form of revenge. In one recent case, a California company shut down for days and suffered IT problems for months after a terminated consultant deleted the online accounts of hundreds of employees, erasing the emails, documents, and other data the company needed to operate.

Having comprehensive backup strategies and solutions can mitigate these and other risks.

A Mac laptop shows an unread email icon on its screen Design by Samantha Shin

Essentials of comprehensive backup

Comprehensive backup strategies focus on backing up both on-premise and cloud data. They call for regular, automated backups to minimize business impacts in the event of data loss. And they provide backups of backups. A winning strategy is to copy data to both local and online backups.

Centrally backing up digital assets that are scattered across different platforms — both locally and in the cloud — means recovering them more quickly after an accident or attack. Synology solutions achieve this by copying backups to multiple locations with dedicated NAS devices and online backup.

Local backups are critical for speed of recovery, as they can typically be restored much more quickly than backups that have to be downloaded or even shipped on physical disks from a backup service. Restoring from local backups can mean the difference between recovery in minutes and recovery in many hours or even days, letting businesses return to revenue-producing operations that much faster.

Local backups can also act as backup to online backups in case of service outages. And they can provide a favorable total cost of ownership to businesses amortizing the cost of servers, storage, and network infrastructure over time. In the case of tightly regulated industries such as healthcare, owning rather than subscribing to backup systems can also aid regulatory compliance thanks to the greater control they can give companies over their data.

Online backups, on the other hand, get data safely away from business locations, protecting them from fires, floods, or other potential onsite disasters. For that reason, online backups can help satisfy the 3-2-1 backup rule recommended by experts, which calls for storing backups off-premises.

It is possible to keep data safe from accidental loss or deliberate attack with minimal effort. Just remember to look for solutions that combine local and offsite backup, automating both functions in a unified experience so users and their organizations don’t have to worry about forgetting to use them or spend a lot of effort on maintenance.