What is the best method of backing up all my important data?
At Sound Networks we often get asked “what is the best method of backing up all my important data in case the worst happens such as a fire or a flood in the office?”
It’s a good question but not necessarily one that has a single clear answer.
For years we have had many customers successfully using ‘Tape’ type backups in various guises, DLT, DDS, AIT, DAT, LTO, RDX, we have used them all and on the whole they are very reliable and provide a very quick restore if you have the tapes handy.
The main Achilles heel of this method is the human element.
A common setup would be to have one set of five tapes looked after by one member of staff. Each tape is allocated to a day of the week and is taken home at night thus leaving at minimum, one previous night’s backup on the premises. As long as whoever is responsible brings in all the tapes each day the last five nights backups will always be available.
However there is the chance that one or all of the tapes will get forgotten and then you are left with the choice of either going without a backup, or overwriting the previous nights. Chances are, the day they are forgotten will be the day you need to restore that important file that has just been deleted.
That member of staff could also go sick, or be on holiday, the latter can be catered for but only with some planning – thus introducing the human element once again.
There is also always the chance of mechanical failure, a tape drive is after all a sophisticated piece of equipment and tapes don’t last forever. Quite when the tapes stop writing correctly however is often only proved at the point that data is required to be restored. Again the only way round this is to do regular checks of the tape backup – thus introducing the human element once again!
We are often asked about offsite/cloud based backups and there are many available online for what seems to be very reasonable prices.
On face value this method seems like a no brainer, no upfront equipment costs, no human element after initial setup, all the data stored safely off site in a secure data centre. What could go wrong?
Watch the small print. In the event of a total loss how quickly do you need to be able to get hold of your data? If you have 200GB of data stored online, this could take some considerable time to download, not only restricted by your download speed but also the upload at the other end.
If the solution is too cheap this is probably for a reason, we have heard and experienced horror stories such as restored data being several months out of date or even folders being empty – which should be full.
So what’s the answer? Well, in our opinion a Hybrid solution with all backup and restore agents included will give you the best bet of a swift and reliable restore when the time comes. Yes, you pay an upfront fee and an ongoing fee for cloud storage but what value do you put on your data? Can you imagine how you would function without it all? Most business that lose all their data in a disaster are out of business within two years.* Now put a price on it.
Appliances are available that will run locally on your network and backup to themselves via agent software installed on the target server or servers, this makes the initial and consequent backups far quicker. Once they have backed up the data to their own internal hard disks, they will then manage the steady and incremental backup in to the cloud and if required manage the download back again.
In the event of requiring a complete restore, if you have the appliance to hand the data can be restored far more swiftly as you will have a local copy. It’s the best of both worlds. Just look at it as an insurance policy for your data.
*Source – Barracuda Networks
More information on disaster recovery
Paul – Technical Sales Consultant