By: Tom Alonzo on January 31st, 2019
4 Simple Steps for Planning a Backup Strategy for Marketing and Creative Assets
In a perfect world, you’d be able to back up all of your assets, every day, instantaneously, whenever one of them changes. Unfortunately, due to tech and budget limitations, this is little more than a pipe dream for most organizations.
The good news is that you can still develop a robust, well-considered backup strategy to retain access to your marketing and creative assets—no matter when or where disaster strikes.
Why Do You Need a Backup Strategy For Your Creative Assets?
First and foremost, backing up your creative assets prevents them from loss and corruption. If you fail to back up your assets, or lose access to them at a critical moment, your customers will be upset and your business will be disrupted.
You must have a backup strategy in place to ensure that your data is secure and protected. Make sure that your files, wherever they’re located and however you’re using them, will always be available during a disaster. Otherwise, you risk losing work, productivity, customers, and revenue.
The Elements of a Good Backup Strategy
A good backup strategy has three parts: backups and archiving, disaster recovery, and business continuity.
Periodic backups and archiving should be your first line of defense. When data is created or changed, your organization should back it up on a regular basis.
Backups and archiving are similar yet distinct concepts:
- Backups are performed on transient media, not necessarily designed to be a long-term storage solution. It’s assumed that the files and assets in these backups may change or be deleted in the future.
- Archives are used to freeze a moment in time, preserving the final version of files indefinitely.
Disaster recovery includes backups and archives, but addresses the broader question of how to react in the face of an unexpected IT catastrophe. If your server or storage solution crashes, for example, how will you recover and regain access to your data? Backups preserve the information itself, but you also need to restore the surrounding infrastructure and applications.
The primary goal of disaster recovery is to preserve your data, holding on to what you already have. However, this doesn’t necessarily consider how quickly you can accomplish this task, or how it affects your productivity. Business continuity ensures that your employees can continue working throughout a disaster with a redundant IT setup.
How Do You Create a Strategy to Protect Your Creative Assets?
1. Assess your backup needs
First, what are you trying to achieve with a business continuity plan? Define a set of realistic goals for your organization. Anyone can come up with an idea, but you likely face infrastructural and budgetary restrictions on what you can truly accomplish.
You’ll most likely decide that you want to back up all of your creative assets. However, you also need to determine how frequently to back them up, where to back them up, and how long to store these backups.
For guidance, look at your current backup plan. How much data are you backing up, how often do you do it, and where is it sent to—the cloud, tape drives, or secondary storage on-premises? What is the total cost of ownership of your current plan?
2. Decide how to backup your data
The frequency of your backups will likely depend on how critical an asset is and how frequently it changes. This time frame may range from monthly to multiple times per day.
Another question: where will you place these backups?
- Cloud storage is an increasingly popular option for its convenience and reduced maintenance obligations, but it comes with downsides as well. For example, your ability to restore data after a disaster will be heavily conditional on your Internet speed.
- On-premises storage typically offers the fastest recovery times. However, you’ll need to assume the costs of maintaining it, and it can be susceptible to natural disasters if you store backups in the same place.
- Tape drives require you to purchase and maintain the tape library yourself, which can be expensive. In terms of recovery time, they’re typically faster than the cloud but not as fast as on-premises secondary storage.
The right answer here may depend on what kind of data—and how much of it—you want to store. Small businesses with a few hundred gigabytes of Word and Excel files may be less concerned about the price of storage than large enterprises with dozens or hundreds of terabytes. Consider a multi-pronged strategy in which some data is backed up to the cloud, while the rest is kept on-premises.
3. Create a plan for asset recovery
Next, create a robust plan for recovering your creative assets after a disaster. This plan should include how to perform the recovery, the data to be recovered, the location of this data, and any steps after the recovery.
Your plan should include estimates for questions such as:
- What is the minimum time you need to recover from disaster?
- How much downtime is acceptable before the system must be running again?
During this planning phase, involve key stakeholders and IT team members to get everyone on the same page. Create different scenarios about the types of disasters that can befall your organization, and outline how you would react in each situation.
4. Test your plan regularly
Testing is essential to ensure that your plan is realistic and feasible in a real-life disaster scenario. Ideally, testing should be ongoing, occur periodically, and involve a variety of situations: asset recovery, physical server recovery, data storage recovery, application recovery, etc.
Each test should verify that backups are being made successfully and that the restoration process is smooth. In addition, employees must know what roles they should play during and after a disaster.
Creating a backup strategy is crucial for any organization, but especially so for those that depend on their marketing and creative assets. If you need help or guidance with planning and testing your backup strategy, speak with a knowledgeable, qualified IT consulting firm with experience in disaster recovery and business continuity.
To learn more about how to improve all aspects of your digital asset management, click here to read our guide: Future-Proofing Your Digital Asset Management and Creative Production.