Reasons Why You Need a Practice Backup Strategy

Creating a Practice Backup Strategy

There is no right or wrong way of creating a practice backup strategy that will work for every practice. Many different scenarios and variables are factored into a situtation when a practice needs to determine what is the best method to bounce back from a recent disaster. However, the goal remains the same: being well-prepared and having the resources in place to quickly get your practice back to taking care of your patients.

Why you need a backup strategy

Ransomware attacks such as WannaCry might attract headlines, but practice and business data needs protection from common hardware and other failures too. How to protect against Wannacry ransomware and other hardware failures? Learn to build the right backup strategy for your practice.

  1. Backup was once believed to help protect your practice against natural disaster. However, that is not the case. A solid backup strategy will help your practice get back on your feet should a virus or ransomware attack your computer system.
  2. If your are using laptops and devices that are not connected to your practice’s server and are not protected by your practice’s security policies and controls, consider backing up those devices as well because mobile devices have higher chances of being lost or stolen. Imagine losing some files on your laptop that you have been working on for over a month. If you didn’t backup your laptop, you would have to redo everything that you have ever done.
  3. What is the process to retrieve and restore your data should you need to? A backup is important but understanding your downtime is just as important when it comes to a backup strategy.

A backup strategy is the combination of systems, processes and devices used to keep data safe and recoverable in the event of corruption, infection, theft or natural disasters. This is usually accomplished through regular backups and data copies stored online in a private cloud, in an off-site server room, or even on a simple USB stick. So, which backup strategy is best for your practice?

Medical and dental practice data backup options

There are many backup options available to businesses, including using a backup appliance, storing data off-site in a public or private cloud, or using a disaster recovery service. You might opt for storage devices connected directly to a PC, server or network; online storage services; or even old-fashioned storage media like tape or disk backups.

The key questions to consider when selecting backup technology include:

  • How fast is the storage?
  • How easy will it be to scale or adapt if your needs change?
  • Is there an archival option for long-term storage?
  • Is it cloud-enabled?

It’s recommended to use a private cloud that syncs with your servers while creating a collection of frequent backups that a new server can recover its data from. If your backup or server is ever corrupted, infected, destroyed or accidentally wiped, you’ll be able to simply sync your server to the cloud backup.

Risk analysis on your data backup

For a complete backup strategy, businesses should have full data backups in at least two locations, such as the cloud plus a USB or secondary off-site server. This should be in addition to an offline copy, stored off-site. It is important to note that stored data on USB, storage device, or off-site server should be password protected and encrypted in case if it gets lost or stolen.

The tricky part for most businesses, particularly those that lack a dedicated IT team, is remembering to regularly backup their data. For example, my iPhone hasn’t been backed up in 3 weeks. I dropped my phone in the water on Monday. I was able to get a new iPhone as a replacement fairly quickly. However, all my notes and pictures from 3 weeks ago are gone. I was only able to restore my phone to the last time I backed up my data on the computer. For dental and medical practices, it is crucial to have a routine data backup strategy, allowing you to restore your system from a time before a virus attacked or from a flood due to a hurricane. How much impact would it be on your business if your data backup is completed once a week? If you run a regular backup routine on a Monday night and something happens on Friday, you would have lost all data from Tuesday forward, which means all the new appointments added during that time would have been unrecoverable and all notes and x-rays on patient treatments during that period of time would have been gone.

Storage strategy tips

In summary, backups are critical to your practice operation, so make sure whatever data backup strategy you choose will work for the needs of your practice and environment.

  • Only use USB storage for short-term needs. Make sure all USB storage are encrypted when handling protected health information.
  • Use a private cloud backup server that has scheduling and anti-virus functionality.
  • Keep an additional backup offline, ensuring you update it on a weekly or daily basis, depending on your data scope.

Having the right backup strategy for your practice, especially when handling protected health information, can prove crucial if disaster strikes. With risks escalating globally, preparation is the best form of defense when it comes to protecting your valuable data.

Read our previous blog post here on the 5 myths about online patient forms.

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