Backups are crucial. Whether you are worried about a ransomware attack or some other disaster taking out the information that keeps your business running, backups are the best way to mitigate data loss risks. Yet, organisations are often unsatisfied with the value they get from backups.

“Many places get little bang from their backups because they didn’t prepare sufficiently,” says Marius Roux, executive: head of technology at StorVault. “Their planning doesn’t match their requirements, but they don’t realise they have a problem until they lose data. Then it’s a crisis.

“Getting value from backups is easy enough, but most companies don’t follow a basic process to get there.”

How can you create better backups in the cloud that make sense for your business? The experts at StorVault offer tips:

* Consider business backup needs;

* Look at staff’s requirements;

* Select suitable backup methods; and

* Plan and test data recovery.

Consider business backup needs

Backup requirements vary. Some businesses only copy email inboxes, but others need duplicates of their CRM databases or tax documents.

Start by identifying the most critical data and its usage parameters. Tax information is important but unlikely to change or be accessed quickly. Customer details or operational data might change all the time and need to be quickly recovered in case something goes wrong.

Categorise your data by how often it changes, how important it is to keep, and how quickly you may need to recover it.

Look at your staff’s requirements

Data is just half of the picture – the other half is the people using that data. Their needs and cooperation can make or break your backup plans. Focusing on people helps categorise data.

For example, HR and sales departments interact directly with employee or customer records. Logistics and warehousing have inventory spreadsheets or activity logs. Security teams use camera footage. Department heads and executives have meeting minutes and forecast documents.

How employees use data will determine your data priorities, and involving them early in the planning process will encourage buy-in.

Select suitable backup methods

Once you understand your data and its uses, you can consider backup options. There are quite a few, ranging from making copies to an external drive to using network access storage (NAS) and signing up for cloud backups. Some backup services can copy predesignated folders or entire devices.

The choice of backup strategy will affect costs. For example, a cloud-based backup service can be most affordable for regularly-accessed data. Some data belongs in long-term cold storage, in which case could be the most economical. You may need quick access to backups across a network – a NAS might be the best choice.

Plan and test data recovery

Don’t wait for disaster to strike before you know if your backup strategy is serviceable. Do your recovery plans match your organisation’s needs? Remote offices can’t use backups on external hard drives residing at HQ. Cloud backups have high availability but incur extra costs for data transfers.

Don’t forget your people: does the recovery method suit their workflows? If a salesperson is always on the road and works primarily on their phone, handing them an USB drive as backup is useless.

“Backups are crucial, but if you rush out and start using the first backup service you find, you might not get the value you expect. You’ll also run into issues as your business and its data grow. The sooner you start right-sizing your backup solution, the easier it will be to manage and scale as business needs evolve,” says Roux.

Backups can be very simple or very complicated, depending on your requirements and budget. At the very least, keep copies of your most important files. But to be thorough, speak to backup experts that have the experience to help you select the best backup in the cloud strategy and tools for your needs and budget.