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Alex Tray
Alex Tray

Posted on • Originally published at

Data Backup Best Practices and Strategies for MSPs

Coming up with a thorough and effective backup strategy able to protect critical data from losses can be too time-consuming or expensive for an organization. MSPs offering backup as a service are a suitable solution when an organization needs to enhance data safety and gain recovery options here and now. However, a backup MSP aiming to be effective and attractive for clients should apply certain strategies and recommendations.

In this post, we’ll cover backup best practices and solutions for MSPs to improve client data protection. A reliable data backup and recovery strategy brings a high-quality service to your clients and, consequently, helps your business grow.

Critical MSP Backup Elements to Meet Client Expectations
MSPs should understand what clients expect to get when choosing their backup service provider. The key elements influencing the client’s decision-making include:

The real value of your backup services is defined not by the ability to make and store backups, but by the effectiveness of recoveries. Clients don’t pay you for storing their data backups, they pay for the guaranteed recovery after data loss incidents and disasters. You should be able to recover the client’s data as soon as they need it. No matter if they need to restore the entire IT environment with hundreds of virtual machines or just want a specific file recovery to meet compliance requirements.

Therefore, to offer an effective MSP backup service, you should create a working recovery plan. When considering effective recovery workflows, keep in mind the following:

An effective MSP solution can help clients overcome any disaster scenario, from a hardware malfunction or ransomware attack to a fire or an earthquake.
Testing, service quality review, and data update procedures should be optimized in terms of timing and performance.
Instead of delegating backup tasks to every client’s employees, contemporary MSPs offer data backup workflow automation.
Despite automation and centralized control, workflows should be customizable so clients could adjust backup and recovery policies to their needs.
When the main points of your recovery strategy are determined and implemented, think over the backup approaches. Here are the recommendations to consider:

Backup methods – physical backup, cloud backup, backup to tape
Backup types – full, incremental, differential
Backup management – interface solutions for clients
Data to back up – operational data, app data, system data
These points should be considered together and interdependently. As an MSP with a backup offering, you need to have enough hardware performance, software capabilities, network bandwidth, and storage space to provide clients with smooth and stable services.

Here, the storage locations for backups should be defined. When building a storage network, keep in mind the 3-2-1 rule, which is a de-facto standard in the IT industry. The rule says that to secure data one should:

Create at least 3 copies of backup data
Send those backup data copies to minimum 2 different storage media
Keep one copy offsite or in the cloud
Keeping up with the 3-2-1 rule helps to avoid a single point of failure and have a copy of backup data even after a data loss disaster makes the main server unreachable. When speaking of MSPs, the infrastructure used to provide backup services is the source of additional risks for the client. Therefore, modern reliable MSPs need to minimize those risks by offering a range of storages including local disks and cloud storage opportunities.

When choosing an MSP backup service provider, clients surely evaluate the offered features. Consider the following features, among others:

  • Backup and recovery automation
  • The functionality that enables testing the recoverability of the created backups
  • Remote management of backup data
  • Security enhancement by offering clients the choice of storage types and locations
  • Backup data encryption
  • Anti-ransomware protection
  • Data Backup Best Practices for MSP Backups The following best practices for backup MSPs are logically grounded on an average client’s expectations and key strategies. The points mentioned here can be equally useful for a provider that is choosing a vendor and for an organization that needs a reliable MSP.

Physical Backup
Besides backing up the data in the cloud via MSP backup software, backups on physical disks should also be available for clients. Multiple storage servers increase the reliability of backup services. This further reduces the risk of losing the data after a disaster. For instance, if ransomware successfully infiltrates the client’s IT environment and encrypts the data, you use the relevant physical backup for recovery. The additional advantage is the backup to tape functionality that can be used for long-term archiving of critical data.

Storage Separation
The separation of backup storages is the additional safety enhancement for the client’s data. When you have more than one storage with relevant backups, you increase the reliability of your services. For example, when a ransomware attack simultaneously hits the client’s organization and your physical offsite storage, a cloud copy remains unchanged and can be used for recovery.

Recovery Testing
The successful completion of backup workflows does not mean that the newly created data backups are recoverable. And the worst time for the client to understand that the backup can’t be used for recovery is when the original data is already lost. Therefore, you should test recovery workflows to ensure that they meet client expectations regarding the recovery time. It is important for them to recover the data as soon as possible to get any operation up and running again no matter what the disaster scenario was.

This practice makes service provisioning simpler and more cost-effective for MSPs. For example, the multi-tenancy feature in NAKIVO Backup & Replication enables a provider to create and manage multiple independent tenants completely isolated from each other. Each tenant inside the MSP network represents a client of your backup service. This streamlines license delegation and simplifies management tasks significantly.

Self-Service Functions
With the self-service functionality, you can offload the administration of data backup and recovery workflows to clients. More control can be offered to a client who needs only a reliable ready-to-go data protection solution, while you concentrate on servicing other clients without additional investments.

An effective MSP backup solution offers reliable data protection and flexible opportunities to clients. When thinking over a strategy, consider the backup types and methods, data to back up, and management opportunities your clients would need. Another focus point is the recovery strategy that has to be reliable and fast, with diverse storages to increase backup data safety. The features such as backup automation and recovery testing are also must-have for MSPs that want to be attractive for clients. Finally, consider further usability and cost-efficiency improvement with such functions as multi-tenancy and self-service.

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