How to Create an Effective Backup Strategy for Your Legacy Servers

In a perfect world, all of your MSP customers would have bottomless pockets.

You’d merrily go about ensuring they’re using the latest and greatest tech, and they’d never query an invoice.

Unfortunately, that’s not the norm and it’s likely you’re managing backups for at least one customer with hardware that’s past its best before date.

In some cases it can be more cost-effective to continue using older operating systems – but this doesn’t mean it’s without any cost at all.

One of the biggest challenges is the rate at which cyber threats are evolving.

If you agree to take on the management and responsibility of a legacy system, you need to really go into it with your eyes open and be fully aware of what extra exposure you’re taking on by doing that ‘cost-conscious’ customer a favour.

The problem is, the threats that face operators in 2021 are radically different from those in 2010.

Not only has there been a long time for malicious operators to focus on understanding the nuances and vulnerabilities of your client systems, but there have also been years of progress in developing new threats, like ransomware or account hijacking.

What Can You Do to Mitigate Risk?

An essential step for protecting legacy servers (or any servers for that matter!) is to have a robust backup and disaster recovery (BDR) strategy.

When dealing with older software, this is even more important.

As an MSP you basically need a BDR that can function reliably with your legacy systems but that’s also up to the job of combating new threats.

Our opinion is an effective BDR for legacy servers is be founded on 6 pillars, with each playing a critical role in maximising the effectiveness of your overall strategy.

1.    Full System Backup and Recovery

This may seem obvious, but if you experience issues with a legacy Windows Server, simply restoring data probably isn’t going to be enough.

You need to be aiming for a full system backup and recovery because regardless of the hardware’s age, you can guarantee your customer will expect you to restore the system in an operational state and in a timely fashion!

Bare Metal Disaster Recovery (BMDR) with BackupAssist is a good option for that because it allows you to recover and restore legacy servers anywhere, whether they’re a physical host or virtual machine.

2.    Fast and Predictable Recovery

Building on the first pillar, data recovery doesn’t just need to be comprehensive, it needs to be fast and reliable. There’s nothing that’ll send a client elsewhere quite like you charging them for a backup you can’t actually rely on when it’s crunch time.

The other element here is that any time spent faffing to get a system back online is all valuable billable hours you could be used elsewhere to grow your business.

The official term here is Recovery Time Objective, and BackupAssist has been designed to keep that as low as possible. It’s aimed at small businesses with a simple wizard driven interface and of course, there’s our top-notch technical support available via phone should you need a little guidance or reassurance.

3.    Onsite and Offsite Recovery Options

When it comes to data, redundancy is key. The recommended approach for legacy machines where it’s possible is that your clients will have onsite Windows image backups of their old Windows server – so you’ve got something tangible there you can touch, and that’s accessible via direct connection or line.

This gives you a fast and easily accessed backup for recovery and then you can cloud-based storage for an added layer of protection, ensuring you have an offsite recovery backup option should anything go wrong with the first.

4.    Offline Backups

Sometimes the tried-and-true methods are the most effective. Almost anything connected to a network has a chance of being compromised, and sometimes your best bet is to just sever that connection entirely.

Having offline backups stored on devices completely free of network connection is just as viable today as it was when your legacy system was first released.

If your clients are still set on cloud backups, using multi-factor authentication is considered a viable “offline” backup alternative.

5.    Active Protection from Ransomware

Ransomware is the biggest challenge you’re likely to face as an MSP. Modern BDR strategies need to take this threat into account. Malicious actors are capable of attacking backups directly in some cases, and can even find indirect methods when necessary.

Read to find out How Ransomware Can Infect the Backups of your MSP Customers.

To help combat ransomware, tools like CryptoSafeGuard found in BackupAssist can really help here. This provides tight security by using intelligent heuristics during backup to detect suspicious activity and alert you to any potential dangers.

6.    A Robust Incident Recovery Plan

Sometimes, despite all preparations and efforts, your customer’s legacy Windows Server backups still fall prey to an attack. When this happens, proper analysis is critical to determine the root cause of the security failure, to determine the best way to correct related vulnerabilities and to demonstrate you’re fully in control of the situation.

The faster this process can be done, the faster your customers will be able to resume regular operations while also feeling secure from future attacks.

Cyber Black Box is a program designed to do just that. Modeled on the idea of the “black box” in aviation, this tool is designed to catalogue and securely store forensic data for later analysis.

Introducing BackupAssist for Windows Servers

Protecting legacy Windows servers involves a layered strategy to ensure security, comprised of multiple tools and defences that function together to create what we refer to as a “defence in depth” strategy.

BackupAssist does just that – offering a secure BDR strategy by keeping all of the necessary tools in one place.

With CryptoSafeGuard, Cyber Black Box, and more, you will always be kept up-to-date. With report emails and warnings in the event of suspicious activities, you can rest assured that those servers are proactively protected, monitored, and documented.

BackupAssist provides the tools you need and the peace of mind you’re looking for, without draining your IT budget in the process.

Want to learn more about BackupAssist and CryptoSafeGuard?

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