In short. Yes. Backups are like insurance, they cost you, have nothing to do with production, and have exactly $0 ROI until the day you need them. But when you have a catastrophe those backups can mean the difference between still having a business and closing your doors for good.
What makes a “backup” a backup?
I’ve been to many clients and when I ask what they do for backups they usually point to an external hard drive or thumb drive plugged into a computer. Unfortunately this isn’t a backup. Its a copy. You may be thinking, “But isn’t a backup nothing more than a copy?” and at its heart you are exactly right, but their is a clear difference between the two. A copy is just that, a facsimile of your files. You can have multiple copies of those files but they are just copies, and typically this is done as a manual process. A staff member sits at his/her desk and copies the files over. This means many days, weeks, or even months can go by before you get an updated copy. Also the drives themselves are at risk of getting damaged, or failing.
A backup is automated software that checks to ensure your files are copied completely and correctly. Backups can go farther by recreating your entire computer, not just your files, restorable. And while it takes these copies it makes copies of those copies by keeping a versioning history. This way as files change you can easily restore a file from earlier in the day, yesterday, last week, month, etc at whatever version you need. Also backup software will have security built-in by providing full encryption for all your files. Lastly it provides you with automated reporting so you know that the backups were successfully ran and can re-run or correct failures when they occur. Backups are also stored on separate media. What I mean by this is you can have a copy of your backups on a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device such as Synology or QNAP so you have a copy onsite and then also an offsite storage location such as cloud storage so if your building is destroyed you have a copy elsewhere. Their are two old sayings when it comes to backups but my favorite is the “Two is One and One is none” rule. By that it means you should have a minimum of two backup copies in two geographically separate locations because typically one will fail when you need it.
Their are many different backup solutions available, some are free, for example Windows has a very simple Backup utility that it comes with. While all are similar, you will find some are more geared for enterprise level companies, but many can easily accommodate businesses of any size. Lastly, if you partner with an IT service provider they can manage your backups for you and they should be performing monthly random test restores to ensure your backups are consistent.
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