Modern businesses use data in almost every aspect of their operations. Without immediate and constant access to it, organizations will come to a grinding halt. That's why it's critical to have data backups — in the event of a disaster, companies risk losing valuable data if they don’t have backup strategies in place. Here are four data backup solutions commonly used and when/why you should use each.  First, let's start with some criteria/terminology used to determine backup needs:

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) - the amount of time it takes to get your data back and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) - the backup moment or points you may need to get back to (1 minute, hour, day, week, or month ago).  These are the primary drivers of the type of backup solution you should select.  Therefore, each solution strategy is driven by software and failsafes, including image based and file-based options, that impact the survival of your business and its information or data.

USB flash drives

USB flash drives are data storage devices that include flash memory with an integrated USB interface. They are not just inexpensive and portable, but they can also be used to back up data from several computers.

However, USB flash drives are easy to misplace, require manual backup procedures, and are susceptible to ransomware, which is why they are not suitable for long-term data storage. They are better used as temporary/intermediate backups.

External hard drives

External hard drives are portable hard drives that can be connected to a computer through a USB port. These devices have the lowest cost per gigabyte compared to other backup devices and boast quick transfer rates, allowing users to back up a large amount of data within seconds.

One of the drawbacks of using external hard drives is that you’ll need to update your backups regularly to include new files. There’s also the risk of the device being misused or stolen. For example, an employee might use the drive for storing personal files or take it with them when they quit.  Additionally, if you plan to utilize these for long term storage, they are susceptible to unnoticed backup failures and ransomware.

Network-attached storage (NAS)

A NAS is a dedicated network appliance used for storing data. It has its own IP address and can operate either wired or wirelessly. A NAS can also offer data redundancyㅡ it can automatically generate versions of your backups or files.

On the downside, a NAS can be a single point of failure.  Even though the NAS is storing multiple versions of your files, if the NAS device fails, all those versions are gone without an additional backup in place.  NAS devices are also vulnerable to ransomware attacks, which puts you in the same boat as the above failure.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular among businesses because of its many benefits. For one, it allows users to access their data from anywhere using any internet-connected device. It also enables businesses to pay for only the resources they use. Lastly, cloud service providers (CSPs) handle the installation, management, and maintenance processes themselves, allowing you to focus on more important business matters.

However, some CSPs don’t implement sufficient security measures on their systems, potentially exposing data to cyberthreats. This makes many cloud storage methods an unsuitable solution for medical practices, law firms, and other organizations that handle sensitive data. To use the cloud, businesses in these sectors must find a service provider that implements top-of-the-line cybersecurity protocols and specializes in data regulations compliance.

Choosing the best backup solution has far-reaching impacts on your business. Each method or device has trade-offs, which is why you need to select the one best suited to your business’s needs. At i3, we employ a hybrid backup method that employs the best benefits of each method to keep your data protected.

TL;DR – Your backups need to be onsite, offsite, versioned, automated and monitored for success and failures!

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