Data Backup and Recovery Methods for Small Businesses

Image of different data backup and recovery icons
Every small business needs data backup and recovery!
Source: Pei

Data protection is a serious security concern in the modern IT landscape. Cybercriminals use new and innovative attacks to breach your systems and steal your data. Data loss results in a significant financial and reputational loss. In fact, 60% of small and medium businesses shut down within six months of a data loss incident. Thus, data backup and recovery is the only solution to safeguard your business from cyberattacks.

In this article, I’ll explain the importance of data backup and recovery. I’ll also show you different backup and recovery methods and explain what a cloud data backup is. First, let’s start with the definition!

What Is Data Backup and Recovery?

Data backup and recovery are synergistic processes that help to ensure business continuity

Data backup involves creating and storing duplicates of your data in a separate secure location. This location may be local (onsite or offsite) or in the cloud. Thus, the backed-up data will serve as a restore point for the company. 

Conversely, data recovery involves retrieving and restoring backed-up data to replace lost or damaged files. You may then restore the data to its original or alternate location. Now, let’s explore the connection between the two concepts.

Backup vs Recovery

Backup and recovery are related—but different—processes. You make a data backup before a security incident occurs. It’s a preventive measure to limit security risks. 

On the other hand, you recover data after the incident occurs. Thus, recovery uses data backup to restore operational data. 

While data backup is a storage process, data recovery is a retrieval process.

An infographic image of the basic difference between backup and recovery.
Backup and recovery go hand-in-hand!
Source: Rackbank

Why Is Data Backup and Recovery Important?

Data loss occurs when a human or natural action compromises valuable data. It may also result from theft from malicious actors. In addition, data loss is expensive for companies. For instance, the average cost of a data breach in 2022 for US-based small businesses was a whopping USD108,000. Businesses lose time, money, and customers without data backup and recovery.

Alternatively, efficient data backup and recovery bring the following benefits;

  • Better reliability: Backup and recovery ensure that customer records are always available. Companies won’t have to worry about recreating lost data.
  • Increased customer satisfaction: Losing critical customer records affects service delivery and reduces customer trust. Instead, data backups ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty remain uncompromised.
  • Faster recovery: Backup and recovery ensure businesses don’t suffer operational stagnancy after a disaster. You can get back up and running within minutes of an IT disaster.
  • Easier regulatory compliance: Data backup and recovery equip companies to maintain historical records of their operations. You require these records as part of security and compliance regulations.
  • More sustainable operations: Data backup and recovery help ensure company continuity. They can restore lost files from the backup location.

So if you’re excited to implement data backup and recovery, you must first back up your data. But, how often, when, and where should you run a data backup? It all depends on the backup type you choose! 

4 Types of Data Backups

The type of data backup you choose will determine how you run that data backup. Data backup has 4 types: 

1. Full Backups

Full backups involve the complete duplication of all selected data on the network. Each time you perform a full backup, it produces a copy of every chosen data, whether they’ve changed or not.

The major advantage of a full backup is that it provides a complete copy of the required data. Thus, data recovery time is minimal. However, full backups also have certain drawbacks. Primarily, it takes a long time to complete, sometimes up to hours or days. Full backups also take up larger storage. Thus, companies with large data stores tend to run full backups periodically.

An image of full backup in action.
Use a full backup for peace of mind!
Source: Nakivo

2. Incremental Backups

As the name implies, incremental backups involve backing up only increments in data. You begin with a full backup to capture every data on the network. In subsequent backup operations, you’ll only capture the changed data after the last increment. Thus, you’ll back up your changes more frequently, but in small increments.

Incremental backups are highly beneficial to companies. For instance, they require less storage space since they only back up new data. The backup process is also lightning fast. In addition, these features allow companies to perform incremental backups as often as possible.

An image of an incremental backup in action.
Use an incremental backup for a speedy solution!
Source: Nakivo

3. Differential Backups

A differential backup lies between full and incremental backup. It also requires a full backup, to begin with. In the next step, it backs up all changes made since the last full backup.

Compared to full backups, differential backups require less storage space and time. But they take up more time, space, and resources than incremental backups.

An image of a differential backup in action.
Use a differential backup for fast and comprehensive backups.
Source: Nakivo

4. Mirror Backups

A mirror backup creates an identical copy of all data on your network. This includes personal files, operating systems, apps, settings, and installed software. The first mirror data backup is usually long, because it attempts to back up all data on the system. That said, subsequent backups will only capture the latest file versions.

Mirror backups are typically fast after the first iteration. The data recovery time is also fast, and backups take less storage space. The biggest drawback with mirror backups is the risk of accidental deletion. If you delete any original file, you’ll also lose its mirror copy. In addition, you can’t password-protect mirror files or track various file versions.

An image of a mirror backup.
A mirror backup copies your entire system!
Source: Nakivo

Below, I’ve summarized all the differences between the 4 types of data backup.

Backup itemsBacks up all data files, every time Only backs up changes to your data files since the last incrementOnly backs up changes to your data files since the last full backupBacks up changes to your system and data files
PerformanceSlow, but you need to undertake it once at the startFast Faster than full backup but slower than differentialSlow
Choose the right backup type for your business needs!

Despite your data backup efforts, a disaster may strike at any time. In fact, Statista reported 52 million data breaches in just the first 3 months of 2022!  Thus, let’s look at ways to recover quickly after an attack.

3 Types of Data Recovery

You can use different data recovery processes in the event of data loss. These include:

1. Bare Metal Recovery

Bare metal recovery lets you restore your entire system, including the operating system, software, and files. You can use it in case of malware attacks or ransomware where you lose access to your entire application server. Bare metal recovery requires mirror data backup.

2. Granular Recovery

This technique allows you to restore files, folders, and other data individually. You can use it when attackers corrupt individual files or folders, but the rest of the system is functional. Granular recovery is fast, so your company won’t suffer prolonged downtime. In addition, any type of backup can do for this type of recovery. 

3. Instant Restore

In addition to files, IT personnel can restore failed virtual machines (your application or data servers) to any point in time through an instant restore. This technique saves time and resources. You’ll need to perform instant mass restore when you’ve got multiple virtual machines to restore.

While instant restore is the best option, it requires a specialized data backup and recovery strategy that uses cloud computing. Cloud services automatically back up all your data at every instant, which is challenging to implement in a customer solution. I’ll explain this next.

What Is Cloud Data Backup and Recovery?

An image of a cloud backup that explains the basic steps in a cloud backup.
A cloud backup is automatic and convenient!
Source: Techtarget

Cloud data backup and recovery involve duplicating data to a server in the public cloud. A cloud service provider like Dropbox or AWS hosts this server and charges you a fee. You’ll also have to set up your cloud account and use their services to set up your IT infrastructure. They’ll then back up your data automatically without you having to worry about it. In case of a disaster, the cloud service will restore your data in a few clicks.

Companies can back up files from local storage to the cloud to save time and money. It also ensures faster data recovery in the case of data loss. 

Final Words

Data backup and recovery are essential IT processes for small business owners. Cyberattacks or IT disasters can occur at any time and interrupt business operations. If you can’t recover quickly, you’ll suffer financial losses, and business shut down. 

Data backup and recovery safeguard your company from the effects of data loss. You can set up your IT system to locally back up your data using different backup methods. In case of disaster, you can also restore that data using granular or full system restore. 

That said, cloud data backup and recovery is the most efficient. Cloud services can handle the process automatically behind the scenes for you!

Do you have more questions about data backup and recovery? Read our FAQ and Resources sections for more information!


What is disaster recovery backup?

Disaster recovery describes processes to restore data, infrastructure, and systems after a disaster. Disasters can be natural (e.g., hurricanes) or man-made (e.g., ransomware attacks). Thus, disaster recovery entails policy-guided procedures to provide a complete backup of entire environments. It also involves safeguarding backup systems against failure.

Why do you need a plan for data backup and recovery?

A data backup and recovery plan guides personnel on the appropriate actions in a disaster or data loss scenario. It acts like a policy document that dictates who does what and the sequence of actions to restore services to normal. The disaster recovery plan should also include guidelines to ensure data protection at all times.

What is backup management?

Backup management refers to the continuous monitoring and maintenance of data backups. The purpose of backup management is to ensure that you won’t find any obsolete data in the backup. It also checks that backed-up data adhere to compliance regulations. In addition, this process ensures that teams can easily assess and restore data in the backup when needed. 

How often should you back up your data?

Every business is only as good as its last backup. Disasters can occur at any time without warning. So, you should back up your data as soon as you change it. Cloud data backup handles this automatically. Depending on data volume, this can also be an expensive process. At the very least, you should back up all systems once daily.

What are data backup and recovery software?

These are applications that companies use to automate the data backup and recovery process. These applications may be SaaS or cloud-based and offered by backup and data security specialists. This software makes the data backup and recovery process faster and easier. Thus, your IT department will be free to focus on other responsibilities.


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