Are you backing up your data?

Are you backing up your data?

Yesterday marked World Backup Day—but what steps do you take to keep your data safe?

World Backup Day (Sunday 31 March) is a movement designed to promote the importance of backing up your data “before it’s too late.”

In an increasingly technological world, people have become more reliant on the transference of their data through the likes of websites, emails, and online messaging services. Whilst this allows for instantaneous updates to systems (hence why the likes of Making Tax Digital is being introduced), thus saving time, cyber-crime is ever-evolving, posing a threat to the public.

“It is good practice to encrypt your backup data, but ensure you look after the keys, otherwise your data will be useless.”

In response to World Backup Day, MHA MacIntyre Hudson has laid out five fundamental steps for people to consider when protecting their data.

The first of these is simply to understand data and “review your current data usage,” said Gavin Davis, partner and head of technology advisory service at MHA MacIntyre Hudson.

“If you backup [your data] once a day, then, potentially, you could lose a day’s worth of data. Is this something your business could afford?”

He continued: “Consider what data you are storing and where, how often it is accessed or changed and what would be the cost to your business if the data was lost or unavailable for an extended period.

“This is often a challenging exercise, since data will not always be in the preferred location. Also consider data stored on personal devices, such as laptops or smartphones. You may need to enforce a policy to ensure staff are unable to store company data on these devices.”

Once you understand your basic usage of data – e.g. which devices and services you may use – it is vital that you support these systems with “reputable business-grade solutions.”

“[C]onsider how long it would take to restore your data. If you need to restore, then the target system could be unavailable while the restore is in progress and then tested.”

Davis said: “Do not rely on a single back-copy. Offsite solutions offer good security but can be slow to restore, so also keep a local copy. It is good practice to encrypt your backup data, but ensure you look after the keys, otherwise your data will be useless.”

In accountancy, client data is constantly looked over and changed. The backup policy for the firm should be defined clearly.

If you backup [your data] once a day, then, potentially, you could lose a day’s worth of data. Is this something your business could afford?” Davis asked.

“[C]onsider how long it would take to restore your data. If you need to restore, then the target system could be unavailable while the restore is in progress and then tested,” he said.

Nonetheless, it is not enough to merely make sure you have a backup policy for your data; it will need to be tested to ensure it is working as it should.

“There may be a time when the future of your business depends on being able to restore your data from your backups, so don’t just install and forget it; review your data regularly.”

“Just checking the daily logs is insufficient, and regular test restores should be conducted,” Davis said.

Finally, Davis from MHA MacIntyre Hudson has recommended conducting regular backup reviews.

He said: “There may be a time when the future of your business depends on being able to restore your data from your backups, so don’t just install and forget it; review your data regularly.”

Davis concluded: “There may be new applications that have been installed and need backing up, or redundant systems where the data never changes and can be archived.”

For accountants, the backing up of data is an essential practice that should be installed into the culture of the workforce.

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