What would you do if you lost all your business data? Forget just matters and documents, but client contact information and precedents too. It would be a potential litigious affair and PR nightmare.

Complete data loss occurs more often than many assume. You can lose some or all of your data in a number of ways – employee/competitor sabotage, old and dysfunctional systems, accidental file deletions, software database corruption, malware, viruses, ransomware and more.

In fact, Legal Futures recently found 88% of firms impacted by ransomware were down for a week or more. 25% ended up paying the ransom and then losing their data forever.

So what are the risk factors and what can be done?

At the end of the day, no method is 100% guaranteed to prevent a data loss event like those described above. Therefore, protecting data really comes down to how you back it up – more frequent backups, longer backup histories, ensuring all backed-up data is offsite and kept separate from production data.

Like anything, there are number of ways to achieve a similar result, each with different strengths and weaknesses.

Backup option 1 – On-site hardware backup

Traditionally, office servers were backed up to a physical drive each night. The drive was then taken off-site and kept in a safe place, like a partner’s home.

While many firms prefer this option as they feel they’re in control, there are a number of issues with this approach.

  • Software has to be monitored to ensure a successful backup. If something goes wrong it it can be very costly to resolve.
  • The backup hardware needs to be maintained to ensure it’s functioning.
  • Backups are difficult to physically take offsite as they typically start when everyone leaves for the day and don’t finish until late at night.
  • Restoring your data takes a long time and often requires outside help, which is costly to your firm.

Ultimately, this method puts a lot of responsibility on the business owner and is a costly approach.

Our recommended backup software: Acronis
Our recommended backup hardware: Network Connected Storage – SAN/ USB for smaller firms

Backup option 2 – Cloud storage

Using an offsite data centre location (cloud storage) is a big improvement to creating on-site backups:

  • There’s no need to manually take data off site
  • Restoring backups is simpler and can be done anywhere, from different PCs
  • Data can be stored using file versioning from different dates
  • It’s cost effective – a lot of bang for your buck

While cloud storage is, in many ways, superior to on-site backups, there are a number of things to look for in a cloud storage provider.

Ensure your provider has referrals and reference sites. They will be managing your most critical business assets – they shouldn’t be completely unknown.

Data sovereignty
Ask whether your data will be physically stored in Australia. This is very important for many firms as it may be a requirement in the future following on from UK regulations on law firms.

Control and management
Find out whether the provider offers support. When are they available and how quick is the response time? How simple is it to access your backup data?

File versioning
One of the biggest benefit of cloud storage is to revert to previous versions of particular files. Check your provider offers this, how many versions they retain, and for how long.

Our recommended Australian cloud storage provider: AusDrive Cloud Storage

Backup option 3 – Private cloud servers

While cloud storage backs up your data to an offsite location, a private hosted cloud server runs your entire system, both data and applications, on an off-site location. This means all your files and database are backed up seamlessly and managed by the service provider. In addition to the benefits of cloud storage, this means

  • Your provider is responsible for managing applications, data and associated backups
  • You are accessing the most up to date versions of all your software including Microsoft Windows. This month’s ransomware cyberattacks,  targeted organisations with out-of-date software especially Microsoft XP Windows.
  • Backups can be restored by the provider on your behalf

As well as all the watchouts surrounding cloud storage, you should consider the following for private cloud servers.

In some cases, providers overcharge due to inefficient infrastructure or poor staff management.

Most providers should offer month-to-month usage and not lock you into a contract, e.g 12 months.

Ask to try a demo server to gauge the performance of the service prior to signing up. This can assist in identifying if the service meets your needs in terms of performance and functionality. Check that you are able to complete typical tasks in a similar fashion and in a timely manner when compared with your existing solution.

Backup policies
Find out how far back data is retained (should be at least 14 days) and how often backups are performed (should be at least once per 24 hours)

See if the provider’s monthly fee includes unlimited support or whether there are extra fees. Look for a provider that includes support in their fee as it shows confidence in their service

Ensure the provider has experience managing your particular software. If not, they may have difficulty ensuring ongoing availability.

FilePro works closely with Australian private cloud server providers such as Habitat3 Cloud Servers