Speaker 1 (00:11):

Hello, welcome to the Wolf guards zone, where we help guide business owners to good it decisions. I'm Chris Kimball with Wolf guard it in Bozeman, Montana. And today our topic is six must haves for any business backup. Our guest today is James Sawyer, S M E of security products at SherWeb. Uh, hello, James, how you doing today? Hi there. I'm doing all right. How you doing? Good. Um, I wanted to start out, James. And, um, just ask you, you know, in your experience, um, just working with backups and everything, do you have any, uh, kind of funny or frightening stories you, you might be able to just share with everybody?

Speaker 2 (00:56):

Well, I kind of got one of each one is a personal, funny story and the other is a general news story that some people may or may not have heard about. Uh, so my own personal story, when I first started working with security products, learning how to demo them, uh, we was working with, uh, one of the backup products and just because I was trying to run tests and demos and whatnot, I actually backed up my own personal machine. And it was very fortunate because within about a week of me creating that backup, my hard drive failed, and I had to replace my drive. All that data would have been lost, but just because of that timing, luckily I had my stuff in place and I've been backing up ever since. Uh, it's, it's a no brainer. It was just too crucial, especially for, for work and stuff and all my applications and everything, and the settings, all that stuff was able to be retrieved really quickly and easily just by having that simple backup in place.

Speaker 1 (01:48):

Save your, your whole week really well

Speaker 2 (01:51):

More than your month, your year, depending on how much data that you have stored up. I mean, you could easily accidentally hard delete a file and it's gone, but if you have a backup from a week ago, you can go back and retrieve just that file. If you want to. It's, it's really handy to have those kinds of structures in place to protect yourself. And a good example of that, uh, is the scary scenario. There's a gaming company, a developer for the game called rust. And a few weeks ago, there was a big fire in a data center in France, and it wiped out all chunks of servers that all that game hosting data was on. So player characters lost all their items, their saved games, their game world, that they've invested time and money into. And they were just assuming, oh, you're a data center.

Speaker 2 (02:37):

You're going to just back up my stuff. We'll know a data center is not obliged to backup your specific data as part of that. You should have your own backups in place, uh, offsite to another area in case of a disaster like that. If a fire it's the same principle as on-premise right. If all you're doing is an on-premise backup and the building burns down, you've lost all that data you should have. And I would advise an additional offsite, but at the very least, even if you're not doing a local backup, having an offsite so that if anything happens to that local data, you have a way to retrieve the data. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (03:14):

Yeah. And that's a good point as well. I've seen some different, uh, online storage services and, um, um, you know, they, you store your, all your files there, so it's all in the cloud and then they have a additional add on service to also back up your data. I've always encouraged everyone to never store your backups with a company that is also backing them up. Um, because you know, perfect example on, uh, the whole data center, you know, burning down, you don't know, or they don't tell you, okay, they're doing the backups or the data's there. And are the backups in that same data center, you know, maybe just eat

Speaker 2 (03:53):

In the backers. Yeah. That's on the company, you can check specific companies. Do you have multiple data centers? Like our company? We have a data center in the U S and one in Canada. So if you want that additional redundancy say you're hosting your server in our us data center. We'll do your backups to the Canadian data center that will, you're sure you have that geo redundancy.

Speaker 1 (04:12):

Yeah. So you want that at a minimum. Uh, another concern to me is, you know, what, if the facility gets a ransomware attack and I mean, hopefully everything is locked down there, but a lot of the times the backup, uh, different locations are connected, you know, by the same type of network. And is that going to get compromised? Uh, so for us, a lot of the times, yeah, we'll, we'll, um, you know, have a company data in office or Microsoft 365 on SharePoint or one drive. And so we'll use a third party backup, uh, solution to actually back that data up.

Speaker 2 (04:45):

That's a good call. Not a lot of people think about that. Yes. 365, you do get a specific amount of redundancy just out of the platform, but if that data gets corrupted and it's on their server, that data is corrupted. The only way to recover it is to flush it out and then restore from a, from a specific backup. And they don't automatically back up your stuff. They're either redundancy and backup are two different things like that. High availability. If, if one site's not available, they have another site that can take over, but it's pretty much replicated. So if there's an issue at the one site, it will definitely affect the second site as well.

Speaker 1 (05:22):

Yeah, for sure. And it kind of, um, a story I wanted to share as well is, uh, is a sad story, but one that happened recently, uh, we're doing it for, for one company. And it's just one of the many companies that this business owner owns. And he had a, another type of, uh, company, um, on the, the east side of the country in other it companies managing that. Um, but they were hit with ransomware. And so they ranged somewhere, you know, encrypted all their data so they can't access it. Uh, and the, the, the hacker said, you know, pay us, uh, it was $400,000 in Bitcoin that they required in order to release, you know, that data back to them. Um, so of course, you know, their first thought is no, uh, we're not going to do that. We're going to go pull our backups.

Speaker 1 (06:14):

They looked at backups backups. I don't remember the details, but were not functional. Um, and then the very next day, the hackers increased that ransom to $800,000. And so at that point, they just couldn't even afford at all to pay that, uh, had to start completely from scratch on all of their data. Um, and so kind of what I wanted to talk about some more, uh, for this podcast is, um, you know, I don't expect business owners to know the technical side of backups, but there's some, uh, I've kind of outlined some of my requirements of what we do for any backup product that we work with and what we, how it must be configured. Um, you know, it's non technical, but, you know, I want a business owner to be able to talk to their current it person outsourced or inside. And, you know, if you can at least ask these six simple questions to them or tell them, Hey, make sure this is being done, then it can really save someone's company, um, you know, from complete disaster even going under.

Speaker 1 (07:20):

So, uh, yeah, I'll, I'll kind of go through these, these quick six points and then we can kinda talk about it. So number one, uh, receive daily alerts or warnings and, uh, in errors. So just monitoring, you know, um, we've, I've come into, uh, companies that we started doing it for. One of the first things we do is look at their backups. A lot of the times they'll have had errors on there for weeks or months, you know, even, and if something happened, you have nothing to restore unless it's very old data. Um, and a lot of the times too, you know, uh, maybe the it guy was getting those, but not doing anything with them. I don't know. But, uh, number two is daily backups. Um, you know, don't just do it weekly, uh, do it minimum daily, um, on retention and that's, uh, so you do retention is like the number of versions that you can go back onto a file to restore from. So say you created a file and then you, uh, gets backed up. Then you make a change to that file the next day. And that change gets backed up and you can restore a cross, you know, history of different versions of that file. But if a file gets corrupt, at some point, you want to be able to restore previous to that corruption. Um,

Speaker 2 (08:48):

What's going to, what I tend to advise for the retention period is, uh, to go with like your daily for the full week and then also do, and it doesn't have to be a full snapshot. It depends on the, on the product you're using, but if you use the one that does, uh, incremental, uh, syncs, instead you have that one large backup file, and it's just doing the incremental changes. So you can do seven daily, four weekly, and then six monthly, and you're kind of covering your basis. So once your first week's done, while you have that a week's worth a snapshot more or less, and then the same thing when you hit that monthly, you have that month version snapshot that you can refer back to as well. Uh, so that, that's more where I would position it would be going more down that road, but definitely for sure, daily, but I would also recommend maybe like a once weekly and a and a and a once monthly for six months.

Speaker 1 (09:41):

Yeah. And if you look at, uh, the amount of time range somewhere can sit on a computer before it actually encrypts, uh, the average is six months. So we always recommend for, and just overall retention timeframe, um, to it, to backup at least, or have your retention set at a minimum of six months. Yeah. Yeah. Um, number four is one that's probably the least done. And that is to, to verify what is being backed up. Uh, again, we've come into a new company where yes, they have backups and it's working, but then we look at everything that's being backed up. And at some point additional files were added in a different location and those were not selected to be backed up. Um, you know, so it could just be maybe once a year, uh, that you do that, but, you know, it's also very important,

Speaker 2 (10:31):

Um, especially with the, with the different products that they offer for backup solutions. Sometimes you can be backing up just a, a drive or a specific file set and don't even think about it. So there are stuff that can slip through the cracks there.

Speaker 1 (10:45):

Yeah, for sure. Um, another one that I find that is quite common is, um, people will be backing it to a local USB hard drive, um, or another device in their office. Uh, usually something where, you know, staff have to change out a hard drive or, um, you know, manually take something off site, um, some type of interaction and relying on humans, humans are not perfect. You know, what, if that person was sick or just forgot, you know, they're busy and they don't swap that out. Um, you know, it could be catastrophic or what if you're carrying that and you drop it and destroy the hard drive. Uh, so backing up to the cloud is my first step. I

Speaker 2 (11:27):

Ha I have to agree with you there. Like, uh, I'm a firm believer in the cloud, and again, it takes care of that whole offsite aspect, if something were to happen, like, even if it's not human error, if the building, uh, got caught in an earthquake or a tornado or any kind of natural disaster, a fire, uh, that totally destroyed that network, you still have access to that data. It might take a little bit of time to get back up. And, but at least you'll have that core data to start with instead of starting from scratch.

Speaker 1 (11:57):

Yeah, for sure. Uh, we've had a client that their building was struck by lightning, you know, fried all the computers. Uh, you know, everything was pretty much gone. There's very little that they were able to recover. Um, but their data was safe. You know, it was backed up to the, uh, to the cloud. Um, you know, there's no errors, uh, errors were being addressed, you know, if they came up and once we got new computers and new equipment, we just restored all the files right back down and, you know, then they just keep going. Um, and something like that

Speaker 2 (12:27):

Can be as long as you running the Costco or yeah. As long as you got a decent internet connection, the restores can be relatively quick as well. You know, a lot of people prefer the onsite cause they're like, oh, well, it's a faster restore. Well, I mean, it really depends on where you live, but a lot of places you're getting a lot better internet speeds now where it could take just as much time or just as little time as a local backup by doing it via the cloud.

Speaker 1 (12:52):

Yeah, for sure. Um, the last recommendation I have for number six is just test your backups. Very another one that's, um, overlooked quite a bit. It seems,

Speaker 2 (13:07):

I know what the old saying is when you assume, right, you don't assume that your backups are backing up correctly. You do need to do integrity checks every once in a while. You need to do a restore to make sure that it is keeping that data, that there aren't any corruptions and stuff like that. And again, that's not something that just happens automatically. You need to plan for it and integrate it into your, your, your backup activities that should be within your backup plan, uh, regular testing, whether it's annual, uh, or, or monthly, something like that at the very least annually. But I would advise maybe a monthly spot check just to make sure things are looking good.

Speaker 1 (13:46):

Yeah. Yeah. Um, we always suggest, uh, uh, at a minimum, the yearly tests, even if it's, you know, re restore chunk of files somewhere on their computer or server, just let them click on them, open them up, look at the file structure, you know, just verify you don't have to check every single file, but you know, kind of sporadic, random checks, um, is all you need, you know, it can take 15 minutes. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (14:11):

That's definitely the best way to do it. I think it's just those random spot checks. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (14:18):

Um, yeah, that's everything on my list that I had. Did you have any, uh, just, uh, kind of in notes or anything, or, um, well,

Speaker 2 (14:26):

I, there's a few things that I like to have people think about isn't as like we were saying earlier, just never really assume, uh, when it comes to backups, especially for, uh, the S software, uh, the, the SAS stuff, like office 365, uh, there are products out there that you can back up stuff. And it definitely makes not just from a, uh, a disaster standpoint, but just from a functional standpoint, you have end who could accidentally delete a bunch of files. And if you haven't put any backups in place, those files are lost. A lot of backup platforms give you a console that you can just access, find the folder or files that you want. Click restore habits send through, or even more advanced functionality. Say you have an employee that leaves, and you want to transfer some of their messages to another one, but not all of them.

Speaker 2 (15:13):

Well, you can selectively pull messages and copy them over selectively pull files from their one drive and shift them over to another user, things of that nature. Uh, or even from a migration standpoint, if somebody, uh, is merging to office 365 accounts, I don't know if you had a lot of experience with migrations, but before doing security, I was doing a lot of migrations. And in a case where there's two tenants merging, you can only have the, uh, the live domain existing on one platform at a time. Uh, so there is a certain amount of downtime. So what people would end up doing is they would copy most of their data across, and then they kind of have to rename the users on the old platform while you still have access to that data, that you can just recover what you're missing from that backup platform, rather than, uh, worrying about things.

Speaker 2 (16:02):

Or even like, if you have a good retention policy, like you're talking about about six months, six months, post migration, one of the user says, Hey, this important file, I totally forgot to check is missing from the backups and recover it directly from there. So having access to that kind of, uh, uh, uh, tool to assist you with it, not just at the time, but going forward and kind of future-proofing is a very important thing to do. And, uh, and with the cloud platforms too, a lot of the times you're just paying for storage space and there's compression involved in that. So, uh, you're not, the costs are necessarily exactly, it's pretty affordable. You're not paying for what you think you're gonna need, you're paying for what you're using. So if you have like a terabytes worth of data and with the compression, it comes to about 500 gigabytes and you change rate as a gigabyte per day, you should be fine. You should not even hit that one terabyte point. Uh, right. But I mean, like, even with lawyers or things like that, you may need a longer retention period, like seven years, or you may want to just keep stuff indefinitely. There's a great security. And knowing that even if I put it indefinite, you guys have storage on the backend, you're continually putting all that stuff in the backend. I don't have to worry about it. My data is going to be safe.

Speaker 1 (17:17):

Right. Yeah. And I think, um, you know, one, if I would to recommend just one thing to, to more people or business owners is just have a discussion with your it person, if it's internal or outsource and, you know, ask them really basic questions, but have that discussion, you know, how are you backing up my data? Are you sure you're backing up everything that you, that should be? How do you know that there's no errors, you know? And when was the last time we tested, uh, just that simple discussion can go a long way to making you have a much.

Speaker 3 (17:55):

Definitely. Definitely. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (17:58):

All right. Very good. Well, yeah, I appreciate you, uh, coming on with us, James and talking about, uh, backups today, um, you have a good day and thank you for watching.

Speaker 2 (18:09):

It was my pleasure. Have a great day. Everybody take care. Bye.