Since thtapese days of tape and floppy disks, creating a backup of business data has been accepted practice. Yet, there are still many companies that ignore the advice, or only take irregular snapshots of documents, databases, website designs, corporate literature and other files.

In the cloud era, making backups is simpler than ever. Set up a service like Dropbox, OneDrive, Carbonite or a dedicated business cloud archive service and data is automatically copied over from individual PCs or servers to secure cloud storage. This can cost a few pounds per month or still only be a fraction of your IT budget, depending on how much data you need to store.

Of course, there will be days when your internet access is down or a worker is on the road when they lose some data. Having local backups in the form of external hard drives, DVD-ROMs or large-size USB memory sticks can provide a second level of backup, as long as they are kept securely and an off-site backup exists. This protects against both data loss and business disasters like office floods or fires.

If the worst happens, with a new set of PCs, you can easily restore the data. Another reason your business will want remote backups of its data is the new scourge sweeping businesses – that of data hostage taking. Done by malware, Trojan horses or hack attacks, a growing number of companies can find their data effectively kidnapped and locked away in encrypted vaults. The criminals behind this aren’t stealing your data, just making it inaccessible. In return for a small ransom, or a large one depending on the company, you get your data back, plus an urgent drive to improve internet security and user awareness of data threats.

If you can’t afford the ransom, your company could fail if you can’t access that data. That is a key reason that backups, preferably performed live or day-by-day to ensure your data is updated, are essential in the modern business environment.

When considering what needs backing up, you need to plan across all aspects of the business. Customer data is obvious, and must be backed up according to data protection laws, along with designs and documentation key to your products. Further down the chain, every company email account, and the data behind and generated by any website, all needs to be archived and remain accessible to ensure business continuity in a changing environment where threats, accidents or sabotage could happen to any company.