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Back up your data to stay in business!

28 March 2019

[Story includes a fictitious case study based on real-life events.]

When North Queensland tour operator Dave received an email out of the blue about upcoming events in the region, he opened it without hesitation. After all, events bring tourists to the region and are the bread and butter of his business.

A music festival piqued his interest, so he clicked the link to find out more. Within seconds, an alarming message took over his screen telling him that his computer files had been encrypted. The message said that all of his documents, photos, databases and other important files were no longer accessible.

The message also demanded a ransom in cryptocurrency before a password would be provided to unlock his files – and that this was the ONLY way he could retrieve his files. 
After seeking help from a local IT support company, he found out that he had been the victim of a ransomware attack, which is one of the most frequent and damaging types of malware affecting businesses today.

Dave learnt that the incident could’ve easily been resolved if had a recent backup of his business files. He could’ve ignored the scammer’s demands for ransom, and restored his data himself. Instead, he spent the next week trying to recover what data he could. During that time, he couldn’t run any tours or pitch for new business as he’d lost all his customer leads. He is still trying to recover months later and now questioning whether it’s viable for him to keep running the business.

One third of Australian small to medium businesses are continuously backing up their data to safeguard their business. If you don’t backup, you can expect to spend at least 25 hours downtime to recover from incidents like this.

So how do I backup?

While running backups can be time-consuming, they’re important to your business. The good news is backups can be scheduled outside of your business’ hours and your system does all the work for you, leaving you to do other tasks.

There are two main options for backing up your organisation’s data:

  • perform your own backups to a storage device (such as an external hard drive)
  • backup to an online (cloud) service.

If you’re backing up to an external device, having this, or another backup, at a different physical location to your business is recommended in case your business experiences theft or natural disaster.

How often you backup depends on your business’ circumstances. For instance, how quickly you acquire or update files and the type of information you’re storing. But the rule of thumb is to do it frequently and this will help make your data backups quicker each time. Other measures you can take for more efficient backups include selecting only those files you want to backup, rather than the whole system, or doing incremental backups of only those files that have changed since the last backup. You can generally also schedule your backups to run automatically (particularly if using a cloud service). 

Read more about backups for business including what to consider for different types of backups, and tips for developing a backup strategy.