3 Ways to Protect Your Server From Data Loss
How Important is your Data?
We host all kinds of data for all kinds of people and not all of it is “mission critical.” What about yours? Would it be a problem if it was all gone tomorrow? For those of us who rely on our data to power our businesses and provide our livelihoods, the answer is a resounding “Yes.”
Simple Helix engineers recently gathered some analytics from our network and discovered an unsettling trend. By and large, our clients are not backing up their data. We feel it would be negligent of us, as your hosting partner, if we failed to bring this to your attention.
How does Data Loss happen?
When you mention data loss, people inevitably think of catastrophic events like natural disasters. Fire, flood, and lightning are all legitimate concerns (though we expend a great deal of effort to mitigate those risks). However, it’s more likely that something far less dramatic will occur. According to a study published in Pepperdine University’s business journal, 30% of all business data loss can be attributed to human error.
That same study reports only 3% of losses can be attributed to “data destruction, which includes damage caused by floods, lightning, and fire…”
All of the lightning rods and reinforced concrete in the world can’t stop your cat from walking on your keyboard and deleting your entire business.
Think back to the last time you realized an important file had gone missing. If this has never happened to you, consider yourself lucky. The first step is disbelief, “That couldn’t have been the only copy!” Second comes the sinking feeling deep in your gut as you begin to realize that a month of your tireless efforts have just been made redundant. Data loss happens, like it or not, and you don’t want to be caught without a contingency plan when it does.
Why do people fail to make backups?
This is a question that people tend to ask themselves only once it is too late to save whatever it is they just lost. As they say, “Hindsight is 20/20.” So why don’t people take a more proactive stance? Here are some of the reasons:
Overconfidence: Some people don’t realize their data is not being backed up or they are so confident in their host (thanks!) and their team that they have lulled themselves into false feelings of safety. We are pretty good, and we know you’re great too. Simply put, nobody is good enough to completely mitigate the chance of loss.
Budgetary Concerns: Everybody is on a budget, but data redundancy is simply a cost of doing business in today’s information economy. There exist solutions all across the pricing spectrum–including free ones.
Low Priority: Backups are not glamorous. Data protection is not a big flashy sale or an exciting new lead. It’s not some fancy new technology you can play with or the satisfaction of seeing your customers smile. It is housekeeping and it tends to slip off the bottom of to-do lists.
What can you do today?
Taking the above barriers into account, what can you do right now to improve your data redundancy? Here are three solutions you can put into motion today. They are all free or inexpensive and two of them are completely automated after the initial setup.
1. Server Snapshots (Cloud servers)
If you are a Cloud customer, we can take a perfect copy of your server and store it away for you, off server. That gives you a layer of protection in the event of data loss because we can easily spin up another server from that snapshot as if nothing ever happened.
Pros: Free, Simple recovery
Cons: Manual process via ticket, No version control
2. cPanel Backups (Cloud and Dedicated servers with cPanel)
Did you know you can set up backups directly in cPanel? These can be configured to run at scheduled intervals. cPanel backups will be stored on your server alongside your data. This offers you protection against user errors like accidental file deletion, but it doesn’t help guard you against other sources of loss such as hardware failure.
Pros: Free for cPanel customers, More features and options than Snapshots, Basic Automation
Cons: Backups are stored on the server–occupying disk space, Does not play well with rsync
3. Continuous Data Protection (Cloud and Dedicated servers)
The next step above cPanel backups is a service called CDP, or Continuous Data Protection. The biggest problem with cPanel backups is that they are stored right alongside the data itself. While it is certainly better than nothing, it’s a much better idea to store your backups in a secondary location.
Automation, efficiency and simplicity are the keys to a successful backup solution. CDP delivers on these points so well that we often forget about it until an emergency occurs.
Pros: Daily Backups, Weekly/Monthly Archives, Bare-Metal Restores, File Excludes, Database Backups, Disk Safe Encryption, cPanel integration
Cons: Paid service ($25 + $0.50/GB per month)