Smart Backups for Kenyan Businesses: 3 Crucial Questions to Guide Your Choice of Method and Type

The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report 2023 highlights that data loss is the second most frequent and costly loss experience for businesses across the globe. According to the IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023, the global average data breach cost was USD 4.45 million, a 15% increase over three years.

On a local scale, data recovery costs in Kenya can skyrocket to Ksh. 100,000 and beyond, depending on factors such as data recovery urgency, data volume, the severity of the damage, and more. Highlighting the risks of probable data loss, the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) reported an alarming 860 million cyber attacks in Kenya in 2023 alone. CAK also highlighted the vulnerability of sectors like healthcare, financial services, energy and utilities, education, and government agencies to cyber threats. A recent high-profile cyber attack on Kenya’s eCitizen disrupted access to over 5,000 government services.

As one of the most targeted countries by cyber criminals in Africa, trailing only behind Nigeria and South Africa, businesses in Kenya face a growing risk of data loss in 2024 and beyond. This underscores the critical need for businesses in Kenya and globally to adopt dependable and efficient data backup solutions.

However, with dozens of open-source and commercial backup solutions, narrowing down on the right choice can be overwhelming. To guide you through the decision-making process, we’ve formulated three essential questions. Answering these questions will empower you to confidently choose a backup method and type that aligns with the unique needs of your business.

Q1: How critical is my data?

When it comes to data backup, not all data is created equal. Some data is more important than others. Why?  Because some data is more critical to your core business operations or more difficult or expensive to replace.

Think about it: In your business, financial, product, customer, and employee data form the bedrock of daily operations. Losing access to such critical data can disrupt your business services, cause financial losses, and even result in legal impacts.

Understanding the varying levels of your data and information is fundamentally important when selecting a backup solution. The reason is you’ll be able to identify the levels of importance within your data landscape and set the stage for selecting a backup strategy that aligns with your business needs and priorities.

Moreover, understanding the criticality of your data allows you to make an informed decision concerning the backup approach you choose and the resources you’re willing to allocate to safeguard it effectively.

Q2: How often should we back up our data?

The frequency of your data backups is the heartbeat of your data protection strategy. It shapes how often your data is safeguarded and how much data you stand to lose in a failure.

So, the answer to this question is paramount because it determines what backup type is right for your company. Usually, there are three types: complete, incremental and differential.

Each option serves discrete purposes and caters to different data management needs.

  • A full backup, a full copy of the system, is suitable for infrequent backups (every 1-2 weeks) or for frequent copying of smaller data sets that do not change much. Infrequent backups are optimal if the company backs up data that is also rarely updated.
  • An incremental backup means copying modified files from the previous backup. So, each subsequent backup adds only the files modified since the last backup. The modified or new files do not replace the old ones but are independently added to the medium, making it faster than the full backup option.

This backup type is thus ideal for highly dynamic systems. However, if you use incremental backups, you must carry out more frequent incremental and occasional full backups for completeness.

Full and incremental backups can be configured through utilities or through relevant ready-made solutions.

  • A differential backup is whereby the entire file that has been modified since the last full backup is copied each time, and not just its updated “pieces.”

The option is suitable for large amounts of data and systems that are modified daily.

Although rarely used, differential backup is gaining more and more popularity because it offers a middle ground between full and incremental backups.

Determining the frequency of your data backups is a decision that requires careful consideration as it directly influences your data’s robustness and resilience against unforeseen circumstances. Hence, it’s critical that your choice aligns with your data’s criticality and tolerance for potential data loss.

Q3. How long does it take to recover from a backup?

The right backup method and type for your business will also depend on the answer to the above question. It goes without saying that when the failed system is critically important, every minute counts, as any service downtime will cost your company money and resources.

According to a report by Acronis, the average cost of unplanned IT downtime is approximately $80,000 per minute. Beyond monetary losses, prolonged downtime can harm your brand reputation and erode customer trust.

By selecting a backup solution that aligns with your need for swift data restoration, you’re not just mitigating financial risk but also ensuring business operations resilience.

Unlike incremental and differential backups, recovering a full backup can take a long time.

If we compare incremental and differential backups, the recovery from the first one takes more time. First, the last full backup data is restored, and then, the data of all subsequent incremental backups is restored. The differential backup process is faster. To recover your data, you need the last full and last differential copy, which already contains the latest changes.

Overall, it’s safe to ensure that individual files can be recovered instead of the entire system. This way, it’s easy to recover only a few recently damaged files. Moreover, it would be wrong to waste time on complete system recovery and put the entire business services at risk of prolonged downtime.

If you personally manage and oversee your backups, it’s vital to consider a designated backup site for system restoration. On the other hand, if you implement a ready-made backup solution, a third party relieves you of this responsibility. For example, in Servercore scheduled backups, a new disk is created from the backup copy, which can be connected to an existing or new server.

Important! Whatever backup method and type you choose, you need to perform periodic (every 2-3 months) test recovery from your backup copy to know exactly how long the recovery will take and avoid possible “surprises” during the process. It’s also essential to back up not only the data but also the infrastructure.

The good news is that backup strategies are flexible. During the company development, you can implement several backups and switch from self-written automation to out-of-the-box solutions and vice versa. Remember, a robust backup strategy isn’t just a safety net; it’s your assurance that no matter what challenges arise, your data and systems remain intact and accessible.

However, ensuring you are not walking and working alone in this phase is necessary. It’s always best to partner with an IT infrastructure provider to advise you on available and suitable backup options for your company.

This article was authored by Victoria Kleinbort, country manager for Kenya in Servercore.

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