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Often, when disaster strikes, executives tend to implement whatever data recovery method works faster. Of course, it is much wiser to prepare in advance, and thus have your data backed up in a way that makes retrieving it a quick, easy process. Here are some ideas that will help anyone disaster-proof critical company data.

Begin by conducting a data assessment. In other words, determining what data is very important, and thus needs to be backed up regularly. There's no need to save the content of an entire hard drive, which may contain tens of gigabytes of temporary and other useless files, for example. However, company databases are always essential, so they should be backed up.

Will you store the data locally, on a server, or will you use a cloud-based storing service? For best results, you should utilize at least two different data backup mechanisms. Actually, industry's 3-2-1 rule states that you should always have at least three copies of your data, which must be stored on at least two types of media, and at least one of them should be stored off-site, in a safe location. It's what we recommend as well.

Always use the services offered by a company which specializes in data proof and recovery; they will be the only ones that are able to suggest a storage and disaster recovery solution which will meet all your needs.

Not all data backup solutions are created equal, of course. Cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services offer several plans of hot and cold storage, which are priced differently because they have variable data recovery times. This means that you will be able to get instant access to the backed-up data with a hot plan, and you may need to wait up to 24-48 hours to retrieve the data that was saved using a cold storage plan. Ideally, you should choose a plan that offers a recovery time objective of minutes.

How will your sensitive data be encrypted? Always make sure that the chosen online backup service communicates with your computers using the HTTPS protocol. Not only that, but the data should be encrypted using the 256-bit AES protocol and a strong password. It is true that the provider will use advanced security mechanisms, but you want to make sure that your data is safe even if it falls into the wrong hands. Some companies choose to utilize several cloud storage providers, because this solution offers additional redundancy.

How often will you back up the data? Don't ever rely on people to do this; always use automatic backups. Create a schedule that makes it easy and painless for your business to restore all the needed data in case that something bad happens.

Now that your disaster recovery solution is in place, it is time to test it. Create a full backup of a computer locally, using an external hard drive, and then wipe all its data. Reinstall Windows, and then install the application that is required to access the data that was saved to the cloud.

Connect to your online backup provider, and then restore all the data. Then, examine it, making sure that it's all in there. If something is missing, be sure to change the provider right away. You shouldn't be content with the result of a single test, of course; you want to run random tests every week. Just try and recover a few random files every now and then, and see if everything works as expected.