Learn about full, incremental and differential backups. The 3 types of backup strategies you need to know about for a HIPAA compliant backup plan.
For HIPAA covered entities, data loss is not an option. Under HIPAA, healthcare organizations and their business associates must “Establish and implement procedures to always create and maintain retrievable exact copies of electronic Protected Health Information [ePHI]”.
This means backing up your data – and there are three main ways to do this. So, what are the three types of data backup solutions?
Data Backup Methods
There are three main types of data backup – full backup, incremental backup and differential backup. These can be performed as cloud backup or on-premises backup.
Cloud backup (like UnisonBDR) is by far the most important type of backup a business can perform. This is because cloud backups exist off-premises, meaning no matter what happens to your local files, “retrievable exact copies” of your ePHI are always maintained in a remote location, from where they can be immediately restored.
Implementing the right backup strategy for your business is crucial. Not only is a robust backup and recovery plan essential for maintaining HIPAA compliance – it’s also crucial for protecting your business against the perils of data disasters.
The importance of data backup cannot be understated.
Whether it’s software or hardware failures, an extreme weather event, natural disaster, or a cyberattack, the effects of a data disaster can be ruinous for a business – particularly SMBs.
Research reveals that 40% of businesses do not reopen at all after a disaster. On top of that, among those that do manage to reopen, a further 25% fail within a year.
In all, over 90% of companies fail within two years of being struck by a disaster.
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Fortune favors the prepared. While you cannot change the weather, prevent natural disasters, or stop cybercriminals targeting your business, what you can and must do is take measures to protect your business from the fallout of any disaster that may strike.
This is the ultimate purpose of your data backup and recovery strategy – to provide your business with a robust set of tools and procedures to ensure your data and your business is quickly recoverable in the event of a disaster and always in full compliance with HIPAA.
Learn more in our free Practical Guide to Data Backup, Data Recovery, and Solutions
Different Types of Data Backups
Let’s compare the different backup types – full backups, incremental backups and differential backups.
As the name implies, a full backup is the backup process of making a copy of all your data to a storage device.
There are several types of backup storage devices, including on-premises disks, tapes, as well as remote backup such as cloud-based backup storage. Of all the types of backup operations, full backups provide the best data protection, as all your data is backed up and available for restoration.
The drawback, however – at least when performing full local backups – is that full backups are time-consuming and require more storage space than other types of backup. For this reason, most organizations don’t perform full backups daily, but instead do so periodically and in combination with either incremental or differential backups, which are performed more frequently.
Incremental backups were designed to be a practical and time-effective solution for creating frequent backups of your data. With incremental backups, you use backup software to backup only the data that has changed since the last backup performed.
The backup application tracks and records the date and time of all backup operations that occur in order to identify any files that have been modified since the last backup.
For example, on Day 1 you run a full backup. Then on Day 2 you run an incremental backup which contains all the data that has changed since Day 1. On Day 3, you run another incremental backup which contains all changes since Day 2 and so on and so on.
Since incremental backups copy smaller amounts of data than full backups, backup speeds are faster and require less media for storage.
Differential backups are similar to incremental backups – the difference being that differential backups back up all changes that have been made since the last full backup (as opposed to just the changes since the last incremental backup).
For example, let’s say you run a full backup on Day 1. On Day 2, you run a differential backup, which contains all data that has changed since Day 1 (so far, this is identical to an incremental backup). On Day 3, however, the differential backup backs up any data that has changed since the last full backup on Day 1 – and so on for Day 4, Day 5 and all subsequent backups until you run a full backup again.
Differential backups, therefore, create duplicate files and, as such, store more backed up data than incremental backups (which store none), but less than if you were to run full backups daily.
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Comprehensive Cloud Backup and Recovery with UnisonBDR
All HIPAA compliant businesses need a reliable data backup and recovery solution that runs in the cloud. A disaster of any nature can happen at any time, so you need to run your backups frequently.
With UnisonBDR for backup and recovery by Central Data Storage, we automate your backups, which can be configured to run every 15 minutes, every hour, or however frequently you need to ensure business continuity in the event of a breach or other disaster. Specifically designed to comply with HIPAA requirements, UnisonBDR is designed to get your business back up and running in two hours, with a full data restore complete within 24 hours.
We protect all your files on laptops, desktops, servers, databases, virtual machines and external devices with our 448-bit end-to-end beyond-military-grade encryption and can restore your data. And when we say your data, we mean your entire file history – every single version – to any device when you need it.
Learn more about building a robust backup and recovery strategy by downloading our free e-book. To learn more about UnisonBDR for HIPAA compliant cloud backup and file sharing, call 1-888-907-1227, email email@example.com today, or sign up and try it today!