One of the more daunting elements of getting a reliable backup system in place is the sheer variety of solutions. Some backup methods require a dedicated IT support staff to manage and maintain, other types can be put in place on a personal computer or local network relatively quickly. While the methods and products vary widely, it’s crucial to make sure you have a solid working understanding of your options and to find the right fit for your business.
- Tape Backup: Tape-based backup has been in use since the 1960s and is still very much a go-to for long term data storage. While many businesses rely on this method for regular and large-scale backups of crucial data, especially for legal compliance in record-keeping, restoring data from tape is time-consuming. Tape drives also typically require offsite storage and can be damaged if not stored in the right conditions.
- Network Attached Storage Drives (NAS): NAS drives are, in essence, external hard drives that can be accessed via local networks or the Internet. While the typical uses for NAS drives vary, many businesses rely on them as shared backup solutions, where multiple systems can connect to and store backup data either in the office environment or remotely.
While NAS drives are a convenient and affordable option for storing the data of several computers in an office, they are connected to a network, which means they are vulnerable to data breaches, malware, ransomware, and data leaks due to misconfigurations.
- External HDD: External hard drives are a valid option for single users, especially in home offices. While storage capacity and speed can vary, an external hard drive used in concert with the right software can help provide a baseline of secure storage for short term backups.
While keeping an external hard drive disconnected from the internet and other machines (a practice called airgapping) means it’s less vulnerable to hacking attempts, malware can still be transmitted from an infected computer once connected. Hard drives can also fail depending on their age, usage, or exposure to physical damage.
- USB Drives: While USB keys and thumb drives typically lack the capacity to back up a system, they can still provide an invaluable and convenient means of storing mission-critical data such as passwords, tax and financial information and invoices. This can mitigate the impact of a ransomware attack where users find themselves locked out of their systems and unable to access their most important information.
Like external hard drives, USB keys can also be infected with malware if connected to a compromised system. The portability of a USB drive also poses one of its greatest dangers since a misplaced or lost USB key with important data is technically a data compromise, and a potentially devastating cyber event for an organization.
- Cloud Backup Services: As adoption of cloud-based storage solutions has soared, the number of options has increased. Cloud-based backups systems, when configured properly, can offer a level of ease and convenience not easily matched by other solutions.
The cloud can easily accommodate a system’s worth of data, no matter the size of that system and the number of employees using it, but it can also safely accommodate employees working from remote locations.
While cloud-based systems typically offer remote security, stability, and reasonable price points, misconfigured servers are a major source of massive data leaks. Capital One, Facebook, Instagram, Docker and Autoclerk had all reported this kind of cyber event. Posting any data online includes the risk of exposure, and posting the entirety of your hard drive or your business data online increases the potential fallout.