It’s not uncommon for companies and their employees to need lost files restored from backups. Backups are still the most reliable way to restore data and file systems following malware or ransomware infections. But when servers fail, restoring functionality can require new hardware to repair or replace failed subsystems, and the delay can impact business operations for on-site and remote workers alike.
Unfortunately, some restoration efforts fail due to backup procedures that did not complete or backup sets that were never verified for restorability. Add the common use of cloud accounts with cloud-based storage or email hosted on Microsoft 365 or Google G Suite, and data may only be backed up for a short time by the cloud provider. These situations can introduce significant risk to both data and business operations. Without a well-thought-out plan coupled with regular verifications of backup success and restorability, it’s like rolling the dice on your business operations.
File & Folder Backups
Backing up files and folders from a single computer is straightforward, but even this simple task can fail to fully protect the owner of the computer being backed up. Without verifying the integrity of backup sets to make sure they can be restored is like rolling the dice. In addition, a company domain with multiple end-point devices will require a backup procedure to be run on every device, unless user profiles are re-directed to centralized storage. With re-directed profiles, a backup procedure can be run on the centralized storage which will back up user data from all the end-point devices.
Re-directed profiles can be a challenge with mobile devices like laptops, which spend a portion of their time disconnected from the company domain. These should be configured to re-direct any changed files in the user profile when the device is re-connects to the domain. LeeShanok can help you evaluate profile re-direction and setup costs.
Another solution is to enable Previous Versions in Windows, which stores a local incremental backup of any changes to files and folders. This gives each user the ability to find and restore previous versions of files and folders whenever they need to. Ask your LeeShanok Account Manager for details and costs to enable Previous Versions in your company.
Operating System Backups
Backups can be performed on the operating systems of both end-user and server class devices. This is particularly valuable when a computer or server experiences hardware failure, like drive or RAID controller. With a recent system backup, replacing the failed drive or controller then restoring the operating system can get the system up and running without much delay. This is part of Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery, covered below.
LeeShanok has partnered with several providers of Business Continuity / Disaster Recover solutions, and we recommend Datto and iDrive. These solutions provide full server snapshot backups that collect on a local on-premise NAS appliance, then synchronize overnight with cloud backup storage. Higher end NAS appliances allow spinning up backup snapshots into a virtualized server, enabling continuing operations while the physical server or chassis is repaired.
Device Configuration Backups
Networking devices (e.g. Firewalls) often have custom configurations with routes for remote access to individual computers inside the domain, as well as security configurations to protect against unauthorized access. It’s a good idea to periodically save the configurations of networking devices to centralized storage so it can be backed up.
External Drives & Thumb Drives
These devices are both USB connected and are a good solution to back up a single computer. Other computers can map these devices to a drive letter with appropriate permissions. There are several disadvantages with these devices, as they can be lost or stolen, and can be damaged by disasters to the building or room where they reside. A common solution to the risk from disasters is to rotate two or more similar devices weekly, keeping one on-site and connected, and the other taken off-site. This still has risks due to loss or damage of the device carried off-site.
To back up one end-user computer to an external drive or thumb drive, we recommend Macrium Reflect Free Edition, which is free for both home and business use on one computer.
To back up a server class system, we recommend Macrium Reflect Workstation. This product must be purchased, and to keep up with new releases and patches you’ll want to annually renew the support contract.
Cloud Backup Accounts
Carbonite was one of the first cloud backup services to emerge a decade ago, and it removed the risk of local disasters and from carrying any backup devices off-site. Backing up large storage sources takes time, as does restoring large storage back to the local computer.
Hybrid backup solutions use a local storage appliance and a cloud storage account to provide redundancy with the 2nd backup off-site. Since the local appliance is usually connected via LAN, local backup processes can move data at Gigabit speeds. Then the local backup synchronizes with the cloud storage account which often takes longer to complete. This provides backup set duplication, and eliminates risk from local disasters affecting the ability to restore from backups.
LeeShanok recommends Datto, iDrive, and Acronis for their hybrid solutions. Contact your LeeShanok Account Manager for details and pricing.
Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery
BCDR uses the same model as the Hybrid Backup, but substitutes the local backup appliance with a more capable appliance that can spin up a server snapshot in a virtual machine. This enables a business to continue operations while the physical server is repaired or replaced. The backed up snapshot can then be expanded onto the server’s system drive when the server is repaired and comes back online. Here is Datto’s introduction to Business Continuity
Datto offers SaaS Protection services for companies hosting email through Microsoft 365 and through Google G Suite. As described above, the Microsoft and Google provide limited backups for short time periods, and they limit their liability. To make sure your email accounts are backed up reliably, SaaS protection is well worth considering. Contact your LeeShanok Account Manager for details and pricing.