These days, enterprise data endures a wide variety of threats—some malicious, some just a fact of life. Protecting data from natural disasters, accidental (and intentional) deletion, data corruption, and ransomware and other cyberattacks is practically a full-time job for many IT teams. Unfortunately, the reality is that most IT teams are spread thin and lack the resources to effectively combat data loss and downtime.

If the thought of insufficient data protection wasn’t scary enough, it also turns out there is a widespread lack of confidence among IT professionals regarding their ability to restore company data when they need to. In fact, studies show 85 percent of IT decision makers are not confident in their restoration capabilities.

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Today’s complex, multigenerational infrastructures further impede data protection efforts. Within just one enterprise it isn’t unusual to see x86 and non-x86 architectures; physical and virtual systems; public and private cloud, disk, and tape storage; and a huge array of applications from Microsoft Office 365 to Lotus Domino to SQL Server. 

Most of these infrastructures require different processes, policies, and tools to protect data and recover from data loss. When you factor in multiple vendors, different SLAs, siloed data, and specific mobile considerations, it’s not surprising that IT doesn’t feel confident about data recovery.

How to Take Control of Data Loss and IT Downtime in Today’s Complex Environments

It is easy to see why overcoming data loss and downtime is tricky, which makes it even more critical to have a data protection strategy in place to mitigate losses from malicious activity or unexpected downtime and to prevent data loss whenever possible.

Here are four steps to kicking off a comprehensive data protection and recovery strategy. 

Step 1: Know What You Are Protecting and Why

It is impossible to properly protect your organization’s data if you don’t know what needs protection.

Start by assessing all of your systems, applications, and data files. Once you have identified them all, document the business requirements and dependencies for each. Later on, this will help you prioritize recovery efforts for business continuity.

Step 2: Implement Routine, Redundant Backups

For peace of mind that you will be able to recover full copies of your applications and systems when you need them, we recommend the 3-2-1 backup strategy:

  • Make at least three copies of your data
  • Two copies may be local, but one must be offline
  • One copy must be off-site

Remember that your recovery will only be as good as your last complete backup, so be sure to back up as often as your budget allows. For example, if you only backup once per day and your system fails 18 hours into the next day, you lose any data, including sales transactions, that occurred within those 18 hours.

Step 3: Dial in Your RTO and RPO Metrics

Business continuity and data protection rely on setting appropriate recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) to minimize downtime and maximize the amount of data recovered.

RTO measures the time it takes to restore your data. The longer the recovery time, the longer your system is inaccessible to customers. As mentioned above, when you do get back up and running, it’s important to consider the age of the data in the backup, because any transactions not included in the backup will be lost.

RPO measures how much data you are willing to lose in the event of an outage. Full backups can get expensive, so your budget may determine how frequently the entire system is backed up. An RPO measured in minutes is ideal, but your organization may not have the resources to support that level of storage.

Step 4: Invest in a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Solution to Simplify and Amplify Data Protection and Mitigate Data Loss

Whether a result of ransomware attack, hurricane, or system failure, data loss and IT downtime can be devastating to a company’s bottom line and brand reputation. Investing in a proven business continuity and disaster recovery solution is the best way to protect your company from damage to either.

When researching the right data recovery solution for your organization, there are several essential capabilities you should insist on:

  • A centralized, cloud-based management interface to streamline maintenance and data tracking
  • Multi-cloud and cross-cloud data protection for today’s complex IT environments
  • Automated testing and validation of recovery capabilities to ensure your plan will work when you need it to
  • Granular reporting of key data metrics to take the guesswork out of performance monitoring
  • The ability to immediately restore access to critical systems and applications to minimize impact on customers and business users
  • Scalability and pay-as-you-grow with no additional tools or management interfaces (because everyone likes to save money!)
  • Support for corporate and regulatory compliance efforts so you always have irrefutable, audit-ready data available

Overcoming data loss and IT downtime is never ideal, but with advanced preparation, a solid plan, and the right tools in place, your organization can mitigate the impact of a security event or system outage. To learn more about how to navigate your organization out of a crisis, download the eBook Smart Strategies for Business Continuity.

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