When Creating a Data Backup Plan or Policy, What Five Basic Questions Should Be Answered?

Data backup is essential for any organisation relying on digital data. It involves copying data and keeping these copies in a different location from the original. This is crucial for restoring data in case of loss, damage, or emergencies. Data backup also aids in meeting compliance, auditing, and legal needs.

Yet, data backup isn’t just a straightforward task. It needs careful planning and strategy. A data backup plan or policy is a guide that outlines the goals, scope, frequency, methods, roles, and duties of backing up data in an organisation. Such a plan ensures the backup process is consistent, effective, secure, and matches the business’s needs and objectives.

To devise a data backup plan or policy, five key questions must be answered:

  1. What data should be backed up?

    • Identify critical data types, sources, and places for the organisation’s operations.
    • Classify data by importance, sensitivity, and how often it changes.
    • Some data may need daily backups, others less frequently.
    • Certain data might require encryption or anonymisation before backup.
    • Decide whether to back up data on-site, off-site, or in the cloud.
  2. How often should data be backed up?

    • Determine the best backup frequency and schedule based on business needs and resource availability.
    • Find a balance between the risk of data loss, storage costs, and performance impact.
    • Frequent backups reduce data loss risk but increase storage costs and performance impact.
    • Less frequent backups save storage space and boost performance but heighten the risk of data loss.
  3. How should the data be backed up?

    • Select suitable backup methods and tools based on the data’s characteristics and needs.
    • Options include full, incremental, differential, mirror, snapshot, tape, disk, and cloud backups.
    • Each method and tool has pros and cons regarding speed, reliability, security, scalability, and compatibility.
    • For example, full backups provide a complete data copy but take more time and space, while incremental backups save time and space but need more restoration steps.
  4. Who is responsible for data backup?

    • Assign specific backup tasks to individuals or teams within the organisation.
    • Responsibilities include performing backup tasks, monitoring and verifying backups, managing backup devices and media, testing and restoring data, addressing backup issues, and following communication and escalation procedures.
  5. Where should the data be stored?

    • Choose secure and accessible storage locations and media for backup data.
    • Ensure protection from physical damage, theft, unauthorised access, and disasters.
    • Ensure easy data retrieval and restoration.
    • Storage options include various types of drives, tapes, discs, and cloud storage.

In order to answer the question, when creating a data backup plan or policy, what five basic questions should be answered? You can address these five points above and any organisation can develop a thorough and efficient data backup plan, safeguarding its valuable data.