Data backupBest practices in data Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) are consistently evolving. Businesses, especially those on the smaller end, are discovering that investments they made five or ten years ago are no longer adequate security. Many also lack sufficient on-site expertise needed to understand and implement modern standards.

In response, businesses are turning to Managed Service Providers (MSP) to create backup solutions. It’s a sensible choice, since MSPs already provide cloud space and other application continuity options.

However, all MSPs are not created equal. A business looking to invest in BDR services needs to be certain their provider will be able to keep them safe using the latest methods. Here are five vital questions to ask when contracting backup and disaster recovery services from an MSP.

1. Are the servers geographically-distributed?

Single-site solutions for backup and disaster recovery are no longer adequate. These solutions are inherently vulnerable to disruptions, such as hacking and natural disasters. A redundant solution that involves multiple servers in multiple areas is a bare minimum for effective and reliable disaster recovery options.

2. What are the exact backup recovery processes?

Process transparency will do more to put a business at ease when hiring an MSP than just about anything else. “Trust us” should never be an acceptable answer. A reliable MSP will happily discuss their recovery process in as much detail as a business needs to ensure those processes will fit the need.

3. Who backs up the backups?

This is one question that many forget to ask, but it’s nearly as important as the question of MSP client security. A good MSP with backup recovery options will undoubtedly have their own security measures in place as well. Otherwise, if a disaster hits the MSP, how will the MSP ensure the disaster does not affect their customers?

4. Are the backups accessible through virtual machines?

There is no reason for a business to be locked out of their own backups. More MSPs are offering backups in a Virtual Machine Disk (VMDK) format, which can be viewed and accessed by their clients. This allows clients to directly oversee their own backups including testing to ensure the backups are being properly stored.

5. Are the backup chains self-reliant?

A common cost-cutting measure when putting together backups is to make them reliant on each other. The standard user-level Windows System Restore works in this basic fashion: it simply tracks changes past a certain point in time, rather than fully backing up the drive.

This is quick and space-efficient, but it’s not secure. A corruption in one backup image can theoretically corrupt all following backups that rely on it as a starting point. Every backup image needs to be self-contained and self-reliant to prevent cascade failures.

Disaster Recovery Should Be A Major Concern

Today, modern data backup and disaster recovery systems are as vital to a business as physical security. As businesses increasingly rely on their networks for day-to-day operations, significant downtime is simply not an option. Businesses seeking backup and disaster recovery solutions from MSPs should do thorough research before selecting a provider.