Challenges of Enterprise Data Backup and Disaster Recovery

Setting up and executing a backup strategy for your business is not enough. Like every other establishment, backup plans must be maintained. Some IT personnel think backup is a “set it and leave it” entity, but this is far from the truth. Your backup plan must entail how the backup will be carefully executed, solutions to contingencies that might come up during the setup, and solutions to issues that arise from time to time.

Moreover, when an organization makes specific infrastructural changes that warrant a change in its backup strategy, it needs to start all over again. Backups need attention; backups must be monitored and maintained because they can experience downtimes too.

Also, disasters can hit a business at any time. According to Accesscorp, The United States Small Business Administration found that over 90% of companies fail within two years of being struck by a disaster. Not having adequate preparation and data backup also adds to this failure. A business must appraise its IT infrastructure, understand the information security measures that can be taken to mitigate the damage caused by a disaster, and evaluate its recovery options.

This article points out the typical challenges of backup and disaster recovery.

Why Is Data Backup Important For An Enterprise?

Data backup is the process of creating several copies of the data on its system to allow easy retrieval in case the original data is lost or corrupted. Backup is one of the ways by which businesses and organizations protect their vital data. Hence, it is one of the main components of a company’s disaster recovery plan.

In the modern-day business world, there are many forms of data backup services that help enterprises ensure that their data is secure. Their vital information remains intact in the event of a natural disaster or other kinds of emergency. The purpose of data backup is to replicate the data so that it can be recovered if a primary data failure occurs. Data failure can result from human errors, hardware or software failures, data corruption, malicious attacks, natural disasters, etc. With backup copies in place, data can be quickly restored to help the enterprise recover from this contingency.

Data replicates must be stored on a separate storage medium during backup. This additional medium can be as simple as a USB drive or something more sophisticated, such as a cloud storage container, disk storage system, etc. The physical backup medium can have the same location as the primary data or a remote location. However, the possibility of natural disasters may warrant having copies of data at remote locations.

For a backup strategy to be efficient, backup copies should be made consistently and regularly to minimize the amount of data lost between backups. The longer the duration between subsequent backups, the larger the amount of data that will be lost if data failure occurs. Creating multiple copies of data provides the insurance and flexibility to restore data.

Why Is Disaster Recovery Important?

Disaster recovery is an organization’s strategy of restoring functionality and ensuring business continuity when its IT infrastructure is affected by events like a natural disaster, fire outbreak, cyber attack, or any occurrence that disrupts its usual workflow, e.g., the COVID-19 pandemic.

A potent IT disaster recovery plan should be part of the larger business continuity plan to protect an organization. Digital operations are evolving rapidly, which calls for a more elaborate IT disaster recovery plan. Due to the development of digital infrastructure, many operational systems, from manufacturing to customer relationship management, now depend on digital components. The downside is that these digital components can be compromised.

Disaster recovery depends on replicating data and computer processing in an off-premises location not affected by the disaster. When servers are down because of a natural disaster, equipment failure, or cyber attack, a business needs to recover lost data from an alternate location where the data is backed up. Depending on the organization’s choice, business activities and computer processing can be moved to that remote location to continue operations. Devoting time and money to an IT disaster recovery plan is becoming ideal since enterprises know how crucial it is. Here are a few benefits of disaster recovery;

  • Disaster Recovery Saves The Business.

Not all organizations can cope with the downtime caused by a disastrous IT failure. In fact, only a few businesses can afford it. Catastrophic downtimes cause these businesses to lose revenue and customers and spend more to acquire new customers or win back the trust of previous customers.

With an effective disaster recovery plan, downtimes will have insignificant effects on business operations. Business continuity will be guaranteed since the business has prepared all forms of contingencies.

  • Disaster Recovery Saves Money

Getting things back in shape after a disaster demands a lot of capital. But an effective disaster recovery ensures the whole process is cost-effective as it can hold the line on expenses that come with these disasters, such as increased insurance costs and legal fees.

An enterprise’s disaster recovery strategy should be prepared for any type of natural or artificial disaster, from an earthquake to a cyber attack or even human error. This will enable the business to get up and running quickly and effectively with little or no decrease in productivity.

For this reason, an enterprise must work with disaster recovery experts who will test and evaluate its disaster recovery plans and possibly make adjustments based on their experience and expertise.

Challenges Of Enterprise Data Backup and Disaster Recovery

Setting up a backup plan is not enough. It has to be regularly maintained. If a backup strategy is faulty, disaster recovery will be hindered, and business continuity will be uncertain. Several challenges can arise from a lackadaisical attitude toward backup maintenance.

  • Damaged Backups

Although a damaged backup is not the most common cause of losing data, it is probably the most terrifying cause. This can be likened to a situation whereby an organization successfully uploads its data to storage for backup but doesn’t assess it frequently. Then, one day, they found out that the backup data storage had been compromised in a bid to recover the stored data. Therefore, the IT professionals managing backups in an organization must check its data consistency frequently and perform recovery tests. Without a proper recovery test, the organization will lose the data permanently.

Backup data can be damaged by several factors, one of which is Ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim’s files. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment. The victims are provided with instructions on how to pay a fee to get the decryption key, and the costs are exorbitant. Modern-day crypto-lockers can recognize backup storage and backup data and encrypt it. An organization that doesn’t follow up on its backup might not even be aware that its data has been compromised.

Another factor that contributes to damaged backup is damaged backup media. Usually, this happens with physical backup media that are on-premises. A failed backup solution is also one of the challenges of data backup and disaster recovery. Your backup vendor might be proficient, but if you use outdated backup solutions, there is a chance that some of the data on your storage is inconsistent. You won’t be able to recover a sizable amount of it.

An organization that doesn’t want to experience a damaged backup must adopt a modern-day backup solution with a proven and reliable history. Also, it should ascertain the recoverability of its backups from time to time to be absolutely sure that the data can be recovered in the event of a disaster.

  • Slow Backup

Another challenge posed by some backups is their time efficiency. Some backups take ages to be completed, impeding an organization’s progress and messing with its recovery time and recovery point objectives. The reasons for this are vast.

A slow internet connection might cause network performance issues, which can, in turn, affect the speed of backups and recovery. A way to get around this is to find a suitable time and backup settings that allow you to use the best-possible network without affecting your company’s operations. Or you should probably review your internet choices and adopt internet options that will enable you to enhance your speed.

Furthermore, the backed-up computer plays a role. If the computer being backed up has slow performance or is overloaded with tasks at that moment, it will experience downtimes. An organization must be mindful of the peak workloads of its computers to prevent normal computer operations from being delayed. Moreover, an organization must ensure that it is using the most appropriate backup strategy for its operations.

  • Inaccessible Backup

As surprising as this is, it happens. An organization can lose access to its backup storage or backup media, thus reducing its chances of recovery during a disaster. Forgetting or losing credentials can prevent access to backups. An organization should be careful with its passwords and secure them. Administrative credentials should not be shared, and password management systems must be frequently updated.

When an organization’s backup credentials are compromised either by hackers or due to Ransomware, it will lose access to its backups and won’t be able to recover data. This is why an organization must be watchful of the activities on its backup media. Monitor the access logs to the backup media and storage for any suspicious activity, and supervise access to these media.

Disasters can happen to any business at any time. What separates a successful business from a shaky one is how prepared it is for downtimes and how fast it recovers from these disasters.

text written by:

Łukasz Błocki, Professional Services Architect