From the Comms Cupboard

The importance of backups (and showing people how)

The importance of backups (and showing people how)
It's really important for businesses to back things up properly, but many employees still aren't doing it right. John and Shaun are on the case.

It's really important for businesses to back things up properly, but many employees still aren't doing it right. John and Shaun discuss why companies don't have a good plan B, or if they do, why many employees still don't get it. Is it about how we communicate the importance of backing up, and making things non-technical for technophobes? Perhaps, and it may also be something to do with working remotely on rubbish company laptops!

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Episode transcript

Shaun: What are we talking about today?

John: We're talking about something I'd imagine is close to a lot of people's hearts right now: is the importance of backing up things.

Shaun: No one does it. Who backs stuff up?

John: We're still months later all out of the office, or quite a few of us are out of the office. I wonder how many laptops have broken in that time, and how much information and folders and files people have lost while working at home.

Shaun: Yeah, but also people who didn't know that ... You know when you work in an office, things are often backed up automatically to a server somewhere. So as soon as you start working remote, it's harder for the IT department or whatever to back those things up. I remember when I worked in a little office 10 years ago, and I was next to the server; I used to work next to the server.

John: And it used to whirr.

Shaun: It used to whirr. It was quite comforting and warm in winter! The guy from across the road, the IT guy, used to come through, used to say hello and he used to change the tapes of the backup.

John: Wow. I had that experience, too. When I first started working I worked as a graduate in IT, and I actually ... we did a placement with the IT operations people and had to change the tapes and put them in the little plastic cases. And then they were taken off to some off-site storage place somewhere else. And I can remember doing the tapes. It was fascinating. I think that was, I dunno, 2006-2007, and thinking, wow they still have tapes!

Shaun: The best, I think personally ... the best way to back things up now is across different things. But cloud should always be one, I think ☁️

John: Absolutely.

Shaun: But if you can have a physical one ... because if you back stuff up in one place, you run the risk of losing that backup, too. But let's come back to people working remotely. Have they been briefed on good practise for backing up?

John: I'd hope so.

Shaun: Because that's a communications thing, isn't it?

John: Maybe not backing up, but certainly working in a cloud environment. It's become new for people, even though many organisations have had cloud storage for years and years and years now. This has prompted people that they actually have to do it. So sharing a document and sharing it to work on collaboratively (got that word out!), it's hopefully a really good learning curve for people. I mean, I've come across people still in the past few weeks who are scared of: "Oh, I don't understand how to save something to my OneDrive," for example.

Shaun: God, it's so easy. It's so easy.

John: I know, but it must be worrying to think about all their documents stored on that laptop in their house and they're not in the office ever at the moment. All it takes is for it to go wrong, which we know can happen with a work ... well, maybe not the best laptop you've ever had 🔧

Shaun: But it's not just about the loss of something you didn't back up. It's of the importance of the thing you're losing – the confidentiality of it – because you're working from home and these are really important, secret, confidential employer documents.

John: Perhaps not secret, but certainly confidential.

Shaun: But if a competitor wanted to see it, all they have to do is maybe email you ...

John: Knock on some doors!

Shaun: Or say, "your parcel hasn't arrived. Please send the document you last saved".

John: How would you do it? What do you think is the best way of backing up? What would you do? I know you're very organised.

Shaun: Well I do think the importance of backing up, as I've said, I think it's important to use software that's collaborative anyway. So if you were using something ... I know you have experience of Teams and Microsoft things. Well that's a good area to collaboratively work, and when you're collaboratively working, it's automatically being saved and backed up for you. However, what if Microsoft went down? So it's good for IT to perhaps have another place where Office 365 is backed up somewhere else. But if you're not working as an employer in Office 365 because it's too hard for you, or you have ...

John: Or because it's expensive.

Shaun: Well no, I meant that it's already in place.

John: Ah, OK.

Shaun: So everyone else is using it – perhaps 70% of the workforce is using it – but you're one of the 30% that isn't because maybe you're scared of the technology or you haven't got onboard and you don't want to. You're a Luddite.

John: Or you've not listened.

Shaun: Or you've not listened to the instructions. You are a data breach possibility.

John: See, if I was if I was an organisation, I'd take people's ability to save onto a laptop away. I would make it mandatory to save to the cloud.

Shaun: It's too local. Indeed, and then people need to understand what saving to a laptop means, because you can save to the cloud through your laptop, but it's not being saved to your laptop. So there's instructions. I do think that needs to come from communications.

John: Well, via them, absolutely. And get involved in how to make it easier for people to understand what they're doing. I think sometimes you see that email pops in and it's from the IT department: "I'll read that later." I imagine a lot of us do that. You have to get more creative. I know it's tough at the moment to be creative as a communicator because we're at a distance – you can't do those face-to-face engagements anymore. But try and make it fun!

Shaun: Yeah, come out of email. Stop sending emails. Emails are so easily ignored these days. People don't want to read stuff. So it would be in the company podcast. It would be in the company get-together on Zoom or whatever you want to use; Skype is much more secure than Zoom, by the way. But if you approach these things in a different way and get out of email and then have some sort of response to that. I've got some stats for you. Did you know that 29% of businesses that are victims of someone attacking; trying to get into your business ... they lose revenue. That's a third of all businesses. And 40% of those businesses lose more than 20% of total revenue, and they lose 20% of customers as well simply by not following good practise of backing up and looking after the data; securing their data. And often it's not people hacking in. It's employees losing the data!

John: How often ... I mean, in the past ... It doesn't happen as much now maybe, but how often have you gone to present or been in a meeting when someone's presenting and they can't find the document, or it's lost or corrupted? Something happens. It seems to happen more than it should, doesn't it?

Shaun: Yeah, I was at a digital festival recently – an online festival – and the amount of technical problems they had was embarrassing! Because these things happen to all of us. But to come back to the core of it, is always have your plan B.

John: Yeah.

Shaun: Always have your backup. Always have that other thing you can do if things go wrong in the first place. Secure your data when people are working remotely. But more importantly, communicate to the people who don't get onboard or can't understand it, because they may be introverted or shy and they don't want to admit, "I don't get this". Understand that those people exist in your office and then go and reach out to them and show them how to store to the OneDrive or to DropBox or to whatever company collaborative tool you're using.

John: I think a lot of bigger organisations will have information security training and things like that.

Shaun: That sounds fun.

John: I'm sure it's a barrel of laughs 🤣

Shaun: A barrel of laughs!

John: But it's important that people do that, and actually take part in it and actively a piece of online learning. It could be very dry, but when people aren't getting it, you maybe need to put some sessions on for people to talk about it so that they understand it in a more engaging way. They've got the opportunity to ask questions and not feel like they're going to be called stupid.


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