Top 5 Backup And Disaster Recovery Best Practices

Published September 26, 2022
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Evan Pappas

Loss of data can be catastrophic for your clients, and even worse for your MSP’s reputation. According to a survey in the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) recent report, “The State of Data Protection and Disaster Recovery Readiness: 2021”, 43% of organizations had suffered unrecoverable data within the past 12 months. And 63% of organizations had suffered a data-related business disruption. That’s why a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery process is more important than ever.

Today, the threat of phishing, ransomware, and malware are an ever-present hazard with a multitude of other data dangers lurking in the digital shadows. Whether your client suffers an attack or experiences a natural disaster that wipes out their servers, they will turn to you to get them back on their feet and restore their most important asset—their data. As a savvy-MSP, you know the importance of being prepared.

Here are five best practices to implement in your backup and disaster recovery process now.

Data Redundancy

It’s common best practice to recommend and implement a strategy of backing up your client’s data to multiple locations. At minimum, backups should be run both on-premises and to a cloud solution. Backing up and storing client data in just one location can be risky if that location were to be compromised. 

For example, if backups are run and stored on-premises, a natural disaster like a flood could easily take out the servers. This is where ensuring cloud backups are being run will diversify and keep data restores protected.

Backup Monitoring

In any successful backup and disaster recovery process a very important element comes before a disaster is ever detected: proactive monitoring of all client backups. 

According to the survey in the IDC’s report, the top concern among industry respondents was backup reliability. At least one-third of respondents indicated a problem with backup reliability as well as restore reliability, pointing to a much broader industry challenge when it comes to backup and disaster recovery preparedness.

An essential way to mitigate this uncertainty is to proactively automate backup monitoring processes—have a second set of eyes watching your backup environment.

Patrick Verkerk, assessment administrator at the Netherlands-based MSP Gflex, said automated backup monitoring allows their team to be notified when errors arise, and they can address those issues without fear of missing others due to manual tracking.

When Gflex began using Backup Radar, they were able to find and fix a server that had not been properly running backups for a week. Being able to see their backup environment and address errors helped them avoid any data loss for their client.

Automate Processes

Having an automated backup monitoring tool is essential to knowing that your last backups ran successfully and that you have the most recent data in the event a restore is required. In the event of a hardware failure or ransomware attack, your client will expect that you’ve covered your bases, and can jump into action restoring their data. 

For a client, nothing is worse than downtime, lost revenue, and damage to their reputation. These consequences can be easily minimized or eliminated through thoughtful planning, documentation, and automation, letting you be confident that the most recent backup data is available.

Automation of otherwise time-consuming tasks like backup monitoring allows MSPs to spend less time on busywork and more time on meaningful tasks internally and with clients.

For Verkerk and the Gflex team, implementing a trusted and accurate automated system allowed them to improve reliability and save hours of staff time each week on manual backup monitoring.

“My colleague doesn’t need to spend four hours per day to check the backups. He’s now maybe spending 13 minutes or one hour. So that saves three hours and in that case, time is money because he can spend three hours helping a customer or doing a project for a customer.”

Expect the Unexpected

Aligned with being proactive, expecting the unexpected will keep you ahead of the game in anticipating disruptions to your systems. To ensure that all of the members of your team are on the same page with keeping clients protected and properly backed up, have a document that clearly spells out every aspect of what should happen during disaster recovery. Having one for each client will keep you calm under the most stressful situations.

This is one of the key pillars to successfully managing your client backups. 

Test Data Restores

Rather than crossing your fingers and hoping that things will run smoothly in your backup and disaster recovery process, it’s a much better practice to regularly test for each client. Data is the lifeblood of your client’s business, so it is a big responsibility to watch over and protect that for them.

Many MSP technicians have horror stories of the panic they’ve felt when a data restoration was suddenly requested or needed. A best practice is to implement quarterly testing of data restoration so when disaster strikes, you can be confident in your restore and recovery process. Your data backup restore process and testing schedule depend on the nature of your data. The key is to establish a testing schedule and stick to it. 

Backup and disaster recovery is unique

At the end of the day, the best data backup and recovery process is the one that fits your unique client base and their needs. That may mean supplementing your existing environment to make sure you’re covered from all angles.

As the IDC’s report further states: “More than half (52.1%) of the survey respondents plan to invest more in both backup and disaster recovery improvements.” Some clients will need more strict protocol than others, but it is always up to you, as their MSP, to stay on top of watching and protecting their data.

By executing successful backup and disaster recovery practices and having a formal process to follow, everyone will benefit from the peace of mind knowing client data is accounted for, and in good hands. 

We’ve just scratched the surface, with five best practices for your backup and disaster recovery protocol. Request a personalized demo of Backup Radar’s one-of-a-kind backup monitoring software and achieve peace of mind knowing you have a watchful eye over your backup monitoring processes.