The Importance Of Data Backup For Dental Offices

Data backup involves making copies of your data and storing it in different places. If something happens to your digital assets, you should be able to recover them quickly.

The Importance Of Data Backup For Dental Offices

Key Points:

  • Data breaches cost the healthcare industry over $10M annually.
  • Dental offices are highly vulnerable to data loss, especially during cyberattacks.
  • HIPPA requires a strong approach to data backup and disaster recovery plans.
  • Robust data backup prevents downtime, unexpected expenses, and reputational problems.

After patients, data is the most valuable asset your dental office holds. Besides dealing with patient information, dentists store credit card details, insurance records, and invoices. Losing any part of this data could cause downtime, reputational issues, and penalties.

Dental clinics have become a target for cybercriminals, with big data residing in digital storage. A cyber attack doesn’t just expose sensitive information. It closes your access to important details and interferes with day-to-day operations.

One of the simplest yet highly effective ways to protect your data is backup. Take a closer look at data backup and its importance for your clinic’s operations.

What is Data Backup?  

Data backup involves making copies of your data and storing it in different places. If something happens to your digital assets, you should be able to recover them quickly. Data backup aims to protect information from cyberattacks, natural disasters, and human error.

A dental office should protect such data as:

  • Patient information
  • Credit card data
  • Invoices and billing
  • Vendor information
  • Communication files
  • Personnel records

If it ends up in the wrong hands, this data could hurt your business, employees, and patients. Meanwhile, losing it due to a disaster is likely to cause significant downtime.

Types of Data Backup

While you can create a customized approach to data backup, the majority of clinics use one of the common types:

  • Complete data backup – you make a copy of all the available data simultaneously. While this makes it easy to recover the information you work with quickly, the such backup takes up a significant amount of space and time. You may run full data backup once a week or once a month.
  • Incremental backup – this backup copies data that has changed since the full or incremental backup. You can set increments according to your clinic’s frequency of data changes. Incremental backup takes less time than full data backup and requires less storage space.
  • Differential backup – this type of backup stores data that has changed since the last full backup. It takes less time to restore data from a differential backup than from an incremental backup. However, this type of backup requires substantial space.

While full backups are generally highly effective, they are time-consuming and costly. That’s why dental clinics usually implement a combination of the above backup options.

3-2-1 Data Backup Strategy

The most common backup strategy for businesses, including healthcare industry players, is 3-2-1. The concept is simple. You have to make 3 copies of your data:

  • 2 of them should be on site (server, hard drive, flash drive, paper, etc.)
  • At least 1 should be offsite (cloud, a server in another building, an external hard drive at home, etc.).

This strategy allows your data to stay intact in different situations, from a natural disaster to a ransomware attack.

Why Dental Offices Require Robust Data Backup

While it may seem that data issues aren’t common, they affect thousands of dental clinics and businesses every year.

Healthcare tops the list of at-risk industries for data breaches.  The cost of such attacks goes up annually. In 2022, the healthcare industry’s average cost of a breach exceeded $10M.

Key reasons why your dental clinic needs to consider developing high-quality backup procedures include the following:

HIPAA Compliance

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulates the safety of patient information and dictates data-related security measures.

HIPAA Security Rule demands high-quality data backup for all electronic patient data. It requires both local and offsite storage. Offline cloud storage is only possible with a HIPAA-compliant cloud provider.

HIPAA also requires healthcare organizations to create a robust disaster recovery plan. Your clinic should have a document describing a specific course of action that kicks in during a natural disaster or system failure.


Malicious data breaches have already become a serious issue for all industries, including healthcare. In 2022, the number of healthcare cyberattacks went up by 74%. Since dental clinics store various sensitive data, they are obvious targets for cybercriminals.

While strong cybersecurity measures can do an excellent job of preventing cyberattacks, hackers may still find a loophole. That’s where data backup comes in.

High-quality data backup allows you to restore stolen information within hours. While this doesn’t keep criminals from using your data for malicious purposes, backup helps prevent downtime.

Human Error

Human error is the main reason for data loss. The most common problems caused by doctors, administrators, and other employees include:

  • Failing to update the software
  • Miskicking and deleting information
  • Sharing login details with unauthorized users
  • Downloading malicious files or clicking malicious links
  • Forgetting to lock the door (yes, this is a common error that leads to physical data theft)

While it’s essential to educate your staff about data security, human error is nearly impossible to avoid. That’s why dental offices need to have a robust data backup.

Natural Disasters

Fires, floods, tornadoes, and other disasters may be rare. However, when they strike, you could lose all of your data in just a few minutes. 40% of small businesses never recover from a natural disaster.

Regarding natural disasters, the 3-2-1 backup rule is highly effective. It allows you to retrieve data from offsite resources quickly.

Reviewing Your Data Backup Strategies

While most organizations implement some data backup, only a few do it the right way. As a dental practice that deals with sensitive patient data, you need to take a serious approach to backup.

To do that, you should consider reviewing your current strategies, ensuring they are up to the latest standards, and implementing a solid disaster recovery plan. One small loophole in your data backup tactics could erase years of work and lead to significant financial losses.

Thanks to our colleague, Kenny Riley, an IT services expert in Dallas with Velocity IT, for helping with this research.

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