Backing up Your Files for Disaster Recovery Isn’t Enough

If you’re not an IT person but are involved in business continuity and need to be familiar with your business’s disaster recovery (DR) plan, how do you know if your organization is using the right data backup and recovery solution? The specific answer will vary based on your organization’s size and industry, but one thing holds true for all organizations: You need a solution that can back up your environment, not just your files. We’ll explain why.

File-Sharing Services

Files open on laptop
End users love online file-sharing solutions such as Dropbox and Google Drive. It’s not hard to see why: The interfaces are user friendly, files can be automatically synced across devices, and data is easily accessible.

When it comes to recovery, however, file-sharing services are a mixed bag. On the one hand, being able to recover a single file or subset of files at the click of a button is great.

Recovering a large amount of data, as in the case of a total system failure, is another story. Sorting through duplicate backups and then recovering all your files can be a time-consuming process (not to mention the fact that you’ll have to rebuild your system environment from scratch). Even worse, people using file-sharing services have recounted horror stories of permanently losing chunks of data due to system bugs and syncing issues.

If your organization is subject to regulatory requirements such as HIPAA or FFIEC guidelines, file-sharing services present yet another set of challenges, because they don’t have adequate built-in measures for protecting sensitive information. For instance, even though data might be encrypted while it’s stored within the service’s interface, it’s not protected if the files are shared. One company even discovered that links to people’s personal tax returns and mortgage applications were showing up in pay-per-click ads.

While file-sharing services do have benefits, it’s important to remember that even though some vendors offer solutions that are marketed for enterprise use, they were originally designed for the individual consumer and don’t readily translate to a business-wide backup solution.

System-Based Backup Solutions

Hands typing on keyboard
Earlier we mentioned that in the event of a total system failure, a file-sharing service is only helpful for recovering files. This is one of the areas where system-based backup and recovery solutions offer a clear advantage: They create copies of your operating systems, configurations and data and then back them up to a storage appliance or cloud service.

When a total system recovery is necessary, you can recover the image to the destination hardware without having to manually reconfigure the system. To shorten recovery times, save on storage space and reduce bandwidth, you can use deduplication to back up only the unique versions of a file, as opposed to keeping copies of each file every time it’s saved.

System-based solutions can also be ideal for maintaining compliance — especially because, as FFIEC guidelines state, “The primary risk associated with data and program back-up is the inability to recover systems, applications, and data in case of a disaster or other disruptive event.” To find out if a specific solution meets compliance requirements, verify that the vendor has undergone an audit such as Service Organization Controls 2.

Best of Both Worlds

Regardless of your organization’s size or industry, relying on a file-sharing service as your DR solution won’t cut it. Fortunately there are system-based DR solutions on the market that offer the benefits of file-sharing services — portability, cross-device compatibility and ease of use — without sacrificing security. BlackVault Managed Recovery, for example, allows you to back up and restore individual files as well as full systems through a single portal interface.

Have you encountered challenges from file-sharing services that we didn’t cover in our post? Share them with us in the comments!

What to Put in Your Winter Preparedness Kit

Snowy roadThe first day of winter is almost here, and that means we all have to gear up for the colder weather and icy roads. Make sure you’re equipped by keeping a winter preparedness kit in your car. Here are some critical items to remember:

  • Ice pick
  • Snow shovel and brush
  • Basic tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers and a wrench
  • Bag of traction material like kitty litter or sand
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Items to keep you warm, such as extra clothes, gloves, hats and blankets
  • Booster cables
  • First aid kit 
  • Nonperishable food items (such as granola bars) 
  • Water
  • Warning flares
  • Reflective triangles

With these items, you'll be prepared to handle the wintry roads. For more winter tips, check out our post “What to do When... There Is Too Much Snow.”

Research Shows That the Demand for Healthcare Cloud Services Is Growing

Doctor standing in front of cloud conceptIn recent years, regulatory mandates such as HIPAA have forced healthcare organizations to approach business continuity differently, particularly when it comes to big data management.

With electronic data volumes growing by about 40 percent annually, healthcare practices are having to innovate in the way they manage data, while keeping in mind objectives such as recovering data and reducing the likelihood of security breaches.

Efficient management of high-value data is also becoming important to improving quality of care. In a recent survey by the American Health Information Management Association, nearly all healthcare professionals (more than 90 percent) said that valuable information “helps improve care quality, contain costs and analyze clinical, business and financial performance.” 

Cloud solutions are making it possible for a more streamlined data management process. But are healthcare organizations taking advantage of these solutions? Do they have the resources available to do so? Recent research says yes.

A report by Frost & Sullivan indicates that by 2020 the total value of the healthcare cloud market will be in the neighborhood of $3.5 billion. In a separate survey by Dimensional Research and sponsored by Equinix, 74 percent of North American survey respondents said they expected a larger budget in 2015.

With their increased budgets, providers will look for the following features in a cloud services solution (criteria are gathered from both surveys):

  • Security
  • Operational efficiency
  • Lower up-front costs
  • Access to on-demand capacity
  • Quick deployment
  • Easier management of IT staff
  • Direct connections to cloud providers
In response, disaster recovery and business continuity vendors are launching cloud solutions that meet healthcare providers’ specific needs. Check out how one healthcare organization is using the cloud to manage their data.

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