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!

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