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Why you need an enterprise mobile data backup strategy

Most organizations realize the need to back up enterprise mobile data, but they don't all do it. Implementing a mobile backup strategy is the first step.

The No. 1 challenge to successfully backing up enterprise mobile data has nothing to do with the particular operating system or backup software you use. It is the lack of a mobile data backup strategy that meets the operational, financial and security requirements of an organization.

We've all been told more than once to back up everything and do it regularly, but I'm still surprised at how many people don't heed this advice. With the enterprise mobility management (EMM) software that should be standard in any organization today, it's quite easy to back up data that's under the control of IT. Such a capability, however, only deals with part of the mobile data backup challenge.

Two components of mobile backup

The place to start in developing a data backup strategy is with the data itself. There are two parts to this approach.

Employers need to educate users on personal mobile data backup.

First, organizational data created and accessed by users should be segregated from any personal data on a given device and into its own directory. EMM software makes this approach easy today, using containers or sandboxes to isolate, secure, back up and restore organizational data.

The second part is backing up the rest of the device, including the operating system and especially personal data. EMM software in general doesn't touch these -- and, really, it shouldn't in a BYOD situation, because they don't belong to the organization. As such, employers need to educate users on personal mobile data backup. Every modern operating system includes backup and restore functions, and a variety of third-party services -- typically cloud-based -- are also available.

How often should you back up enterprise mobile data?

The next big decision is how frequently to perform backups. Individual users are typically quite lax in their attention to mobile data backup requirements, so organizations must automate the process. As an example, here's the data backup strategy we use at Farpoint Group:

We're an Apple shop, so we use Time Machine to back up Macs to a local drive -- in our case, a Time Capsule, but a USB-attached drive would also work. The backup runs several times a day, inconspicuously in the background. We use iCloud to synchronize and back up iOS devices, but all enterprise mobile data of value created on iOS winds up on the Macs, by policy or by manual operation if required in a specific case.

Just to be sure, though, we also use a cloud-based continuous backup service that meets the requirements of our security policy and enables access to backed-up files for authorized users. And we occasionally do doomsday backups to USB devices, which we then lock in a fireproof safe.

The time is now for mobile data backup

The key is for a data backup strategy to always be transparent, automated, redundant, easy to implement and reliable, with minimal operational expenses.

All any organization really has today in terms of value is data, along with the people who create and use that information. Lose that data, and those people -- and the organization overall -- will become shockingly unproductive in no time.

Data integrity is the one element of IT that is both vital and easy to ensure, once an effective and properly supported enterprise mobile data backup strategy is in place. If you don't have one, now's the time.

This was last published in November 2017

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