World Backup Day: Building Best Practices for Data Backups Into Your Organization’s DNA

by Tim Hennessey Jr., Global Content Writer, Rackspace Technology

A person backing up their files into cloud storage

March 31 is World Backup Day! What? You’ve never heard of World Backup Day? While it might not be as famous as Arbor Day (April 29) or as fun as National Ice Cream Day (July 17), World Backup Day might be the most important day you observe every year. 

Here are just a few “fun” facts about why backing up your data is so important. Did you know: 

  • 21% of people have never made a backup.
  • 29% of data loss cases are caused by accident. 
  • 30% of all computers are already infected with malware.

Now, losing photos, media, and work files can be painful for the average person. But for a company, losing data or access to your data can be devastating.

Data center hard drives fail. That’s just a fact of life. If you’re lucky, you can hope to get 3 to 4 years out of them. A report released by online backup company Backblaze found that 90% of their hard drives survived for three years and 80% for four years. But they also had 5% fail within the first year.

But this only considers failures from normal usage. We live in a world of natural disasters, user error, viruses and ransomware. So, the safest approach to take is that data loss is a “when” situation, not an “if.”

At Rackspace Technology®, we take data seriously. It is truly the lifeblood of any organization. It helps accelerate innovation, improve customer experiences, and drive new revenue streams. It must be protected.

So today, on World Backup Day, we’d like to share a little primer to help get you familiar with data backup terms and best practices. So read on, share and most importantly, back up your data! 


Know Your Data

We want to cover triaging your data before we get into the nitty-gritty backing up your data. While all data is essential, it’s not all created equal. Get a good handle on your data hierarchy (mission-critical/necessary/rarely accessed/etc.) to set the correct backup frequencies and retention policies for your data. This will drastically cut down on the time needed to get back up and running after an incident.   


Types of Data Backup

Full Backup 

A full backup, as the name implies, backs up all data that is selected for backup. Because it’s all-encompassing, it will take the longest to perform, but it will capture all your data at the time of the backup, regardless of the last time a backup was ran. 

Differential Backup 

A differential backup captures all new data since the last full backup. As more differential backups are run, they will get larger and larger, but will never exceed the size of the full backup. Differential backups for filesystems are seen as inefficient in the current age of modern backups. They brought value in the past by making restores require fewer removable media changes. Today, differential backups are still used with various database backups.

Incremental Backup 

An incremental backup captures all new data since the last backup. In the past, incremental backups would require the most changes of removable media during restores, but this issue is all but eliminated today. With modern backup solutions, “incrementals forever” backups take advantage of the ability to track data changes over time and allow for data that is no longer present on the system to be aged out without the need to run a new baseline full backup. 


Implementing a Backup Strategy

Replication is not good enough: While backing up everything, every time, might seem like a promising idea on paper, as our own data guru (i.e., Senior Storage Architect) Adam White explains it, that’s often too slow, too large, and too disruptive to serve all your data backup needs.

“When it comes to restoring lost data, when time is usually of the essence, restoring terabytes of data in one fell swoop might not be the best method,” says White. “Instead, often you want to restore higher use, business-critical files so workers can get back to them quicker while you restore less used items in the background.”

RAID is not a backup: RAID is an aspect of a storage system, not a form of backup. Even with advanced methods of data availability such as erasure encoding, operational availability of the storage system and backups are two vastly different things.

3-2-1 backup strategy: While there is no definitive definition of the 3-2-1 strategy, a very common definition is to have three copies of your data kept on two different media types, with at least one copy stored off-site.

“Some people will consider the primary active copy of the data as one of the three copies, so that leaves you to need two backup copies,” explains White. “The media type aspect of the strategy has been blurred in modern day. While tape is still a viable solution in the correct settings and for the correct data types, most backups often land on disk today.”

When to run backups: Your data should be backed up at least once a week and ideally every 24 hours. If you can, set backup times for after work hours to avoid impacting workers and ensure you’ve captured the entirety of that day’s changes.

Alerts and monitoring: The best data backup and restoration strategies in the world are useless if your data has been compromised without your knowledge or months after the event occurred. Make sure your systems and data are free of malware with 24x7x365 monitoring. 


Solving Together™

We know nothing is more important than your data. From understanding how you collect, interpret, and use your data to how your organization retrieves and stores it, we know how to protect your data all along the chain. At Rackspace Technology, we have been doing this for over 20 years, in over 120 countries and for more than half of Fortune 100.

Check out our Cloud Backup and Recovery solutions when you have a moment. We provide it as a per-month service with no long-term contract. Your business will benefit from user-friendly access, cost-effective storage, enterprise-grade encryption and reliable recovery and backup options. 24x7x265.

At Rackspace Technology, every day is backup day. In fact, watch our Rackspace Technology Live episode which talks about the importance of World Backup Day and why you should take the pledge!

Start Building Your Longterm Backup Strategy