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Security 2. November 2023
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In the digital era, data is the backbone of any business. Data loss can be catastrophic – from business interruption to significant financial loss. Whether it’s human or technical error, environmental impact, or a ransomware extortion attack, a customized backup solution protects the business.

In this blog post, we’ll answer all of your relevant backup questions and provide insight into Open Circle’s best practices for keeping your data safe and accessible at all times.

A Backup as Insurance

A backup is a backup copy of all data. In the event of a system failure or data loss, it allows you to copy back and restore the affected data from special backup media. By restoring from the backup, it is possible to continue working as usual even in such events without data loss and operational downtime.

Data Saved in Backups

In general, all digital data can be backed up. Open Circle offers a wide range of backup solutions for this purpose for various data types, including:

  • Hard disks from physical and virtual systems
  • Files from physical devices
  • VM configurations
  • SQL and Exchange databases including mailboxes

Since Open Circle only backs up data stored on our cloud servers, we use our partner MOUNT10 to back up data in the Microsoft/Office 365/Azure cloud.

Storage Options for Backups

Backups can be stored on external and internal hard drives, in cloud storage, on servers in data centers, or on magnetic tapes. Each storage method has advantages and disadvantages. That’s why it’s important to choose the method that works best for your business.

Physical backups – whether local or offsite – are safe from cyberattacks, but can be lost due to physical damage. Cloud backups offer flexibility and remote access, but require strong encryption and secure passwords. Which is the right backup method depends on your organization’s needs and infrastructure.

Local Backup: Everything in One Place

Local backup is a copy of data stored on the same device or network. It provides quick access and recovery, but may be insufficient in the event of physical damage to the site.

Cloud Backup: Via the Internet to the Data Center

Your data is synchronized and stored in the cloud, which is an off-site data center. This provides an additional layer of security, as your data is stored in a secure location that is separate from your operations site.

Cold Backup: Play It Safe Offline

With the cold backup method, the backup is created and stored offline. This provides an extra layer of protection against online threats.

Hot Backup: Live In Real Time

All system services are active during hot backup. This enables continuous backup without interrupting operations.

Warm Backup: At Regular Intervals

During the backup process, the system is running, but some services might be inactive. This represents a middle ground between cold and hot backup.

Tape Out Backup: Backup to a Tape

Data is transferred from primary storage to a tape cartridge, which allows for quick recovery in the event of a failure. With Open Circle, this is an optional backup option.

Escrow Backup: The Independent Third Party in the Boot

The backup is stored with an independent third party. So you have access to your data at any time.

Hybrid Backups: Double Security

A hybrid backup combines local and cloud-based backup solutions to provide both fast on-site data recovery and additional security through cloud storage.

Data Encryption in Backups?

Data encryption converts data into an unreadable form, protects it from unauthorized access, and guarantees that backups cannot be viewed by unauthorized persons. This is especially important for backups, as they often contain sensitive information. Strong encryption ensures that they are secure and can only be viewed by authorized users.

Different Backup Methods

Understanding the different backup methods is critical to deciding on the best strategy for your business. Choosing the right backup method depends on several factors, including the size of your organization’s data, the frequency of data changes and the capacity of your storage infrastructure.

Full Backup – The Big Backup With All Data

Full backup backs up all data on a system, regardless of previous changes. This ensures a complete recovery, but requires a lot of resources.

A disk image backup belongs to the full backups. It creates an exact copy of a hard disk, including all files, the operating system and the disk structure. Disk image backup is used to fully restore a system to a new device or drive in the event of a total failure or serious error. This backup is especially valuable for businesses that need a fast and efficient method of data recovery to minimize downtime.

Incremental Backup – The Small Backup for Change

Incremental backup only backs up data that has changed since the last backup. This makes backup more resource efficient, but recovery more complicated.

Differential Backup – The Middle Ground

A differential backup backs up all data that has changed since the last full backup. This backup method represents the middle ground between full and incremental backup.

Backup Sets – The Restore Points

Backup sets are individual backups created as a group of backup files at a specific point in time as part of a backup strategy. A backup set can be a full backup, an incremental backup, or a differential backup.

A backup set can also combine multiple backup types. For example, a backup set can consist of a full backup and an incremental backup. In this case, the backup set would be called a differential backup. Backup sets facilitate the recovery process by allowing users to select a specific time at which they want to restore their data.

Georedundant Backup and How It Helps Against Ransomware

With a georedundant backup, data is mirrored in two physically separate data centers: at Open Circle in Bern and Zurich. This means that backups are optimally protected against ransomware attacks. The key here is isolation of backup servers and multiple storage at different locations. If one server is compromised, the others remain secure.blank

Effective Backups for Businesses: The Ins and Outs

An effective backup is more than just a copy of your data. It involves a number of best practices and technologies to ensure your data stays safe and intact. Key specifics include:

  • Data encryption: robust encryption ensures your data is secure in transit and at rest.
  • Proper authentication: This ensures that only authorized users have access to your backups.
  • Backup integrity checks: Regular checks ensure that your backups are complete and error-free.
  • Regular recoverability testing: This ensures that your backups are ready to use in case of emergency.

What Must Be Considered When Backing up Databases

Database backups must ensure that no transactions are missing during the backup and that a consistent state exists after a restore. This is important to ensure data integrity and consistency of databases. Regular backups and adherence to recovery SLAs are necessary. As data volumes increase, the strategy should be adjusted.

Backups and the Revision

Backups are not audit-proof without special additional services. Audit-proof means that the data must be stored in an unchangeable and traceable way over a certain period of time. To make backups audit-proof, there are special archive solutions that can be implemented: the so-called WORM storage solutions (Write Once, Read Many).

The Regularity of Backups Is Important

Depending on the importance of your data, we recommend daily backups for critical data and weekly or monthly backups for less central data. In cases where only minimal data loss can be tolerated, multiple daily backups may be appropriate. To schedule this, you’ll need your RPO and RTO.

With RPO and RTO to the Optimal Backup Strategy

The RPO (Recovery Point Objective) and RTO (Recovery Point Objective) are parameters that help you better plan your backup and recovery strategies and align your business needs with IT capabilities.

  • RPO (Recovery Point Objective): This parameter defines the maximum amount of data loss that can be sustained in units of time and specifies the time period since the last backup.
  • RTO (Recovery Time Objective): RTO defines how quickly systems must be up and running again after a failure.

Backups and the Storage Space

For optimal security, backup storage should be at least twice the size of the data being backed up. Actual needs vary depending on backup type and frequency. To calculate exact storage needs, analyze the company’s own data, backup strategies and objectives.

Backup Rotation to Save Space

If you use the backup rotation method, you can save precious storage space and still ensure that the latest data versions are backed up. With backup rotation, you simply replace older backups with newer ones at regular intervals.

Always Check if the Backup Has Worked

Regular restore tests are essential to verify the integrity of your backup. Make sure that you can successfully restore data from the backup. Take this opportunity to review and optimize the entire restore process.

When a backup fails, it’s important that you notice. So check the status of backups at least daily. If an error occurs, you should check all connections to make sure there is enough storage space. After analyzing the error message, you should make the necessary corrections or contact the support of your backup software.

The Retention Periods of Backups

The retention period of your backups depends on regulatory requirements and specific business needs. However, it is advisable to keep at least the last three versions of your data to ensure sufficient recoverability.

How Data Recovery From Backups Works

Restoring data from a backup can vary depending on the backup solution used and the type of data loss. Generally, the process includes the following steps:

  1. Selecting the backup set that contains the data you need.
  2. Select restore location
  3. Perform recovery process with the backup software
  4. Verification of the restored data

Backup Recovery at Open Circle

In the recovery case, the files and directories from the backup are loaded either to the original system or to a new one. Open Circle supports the entire recovery process.

Backup Strategies for Enterprises

Our backup strategies are tailored to the individual needs and requirements of our customers. Here are some of the strategies we use:

  • The 3-2-1 Rule: This rule states that you should have three total copies of your data, two of them on different media or platforms and one copy offsite. This ensures robust backup and recovery.
  • Georedundant backups: We replicate your data in a remote data center (Bern and Zurich) to provide additional protection against local disasters.
  • Different backup periods: We offer different backup periods to meet the different needs of our customers. These range from a standard backup period of 14 days to an extended period of 90 days to 2 years.

This Is Why a Backup With Specialists Like Open Circle Makes Sense

Many small and medium-sized businesses cannot afford to maintain multiple server rooms or operate a comprehensive IT infrastructure. In addition, they often lack specialized IT expertise. Therefore, they choose to outsource this area to subject matter experts such as hosting or cloud providers.

Conclusion: Secure your Business Foundation!

A solid backup strategy is not a luxury, but a fundamental necessity. Open Circle offers customized, geo-redundant and customizable backup solutions that provide all-around protection against data loss and ransomware. With Open Circle as your partner, you ensure that your company data remains protected and accessible even in critical situations.

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