Backing Up Your Business

Ask any computer expert and they’ll tell you that one of the most important ways to ensure data integrity is through regular backups. This is true for the home user, and especially the business user and the servers that support that business. Customers can sometimes understand a short network outage due to electrical network failures, but if an electrical failure causes your servers to crash and lose their data, they won’t be quite so understanding. That’s where backups come in. But what are your options when it comes to desktop and server backups? Not sure? Don’t worry; you’re not alone.

Not too long ago, no matter who you were, you only had one choice here: You had a dedicated server that was used just for backups. A little later, your backups were written to removable optical media for safekeeping. Now, you’re presented with several choices. Do you buy and dedicate hardware for backing up servers and key user systems, or do you backup remotely to the cloud? Or, do you do both? Each of the three has their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s a matter of deciding which is best for your situation.

Backing up locally allows you to transfer larger amounts of data more rapidly. This means that the backup will be able to happen much faster. If a problem occurs, recovery can also be much quicker. The speed at which the backup and restore processes are able to happen will be determined by network and hardware speeds. However, the calamity that creates the need for the system restore can also affect the storage medium for your backups. As an example, if you’re located in an area prone to flooding or tornados, if the building that houses your company suffers a calamity, chances are the storage medium/network attached storage for your backup is going to suffer the same calamity.

With remote backup solutions, you don’t have to pay for a huge drive or new system to hold your backups; you only have to pay for the space your backups take up. Why pay for a two-terabyte NAS device if your backups are only a few hundred megabytes? Typically, the disaster that creates the need for a restoration of a backup isn’t going to destroy your backup if you perform online remote backups. On the down side, the speeds at which the backup and restoration processes take place are limited by the bandwidth of your connection to the remote location.

Hybrid backups combine the best of both types. Part of your regular backup is stored locally, while part is stored remotely. The problem here is integrating the two properly so that they work seamlessly. You need to determine what your needs are. Are you in an industry that requires off-site backup? Do you need continuous data protection (CDP)? Or are you more interested in retention of files deleted from primary storage and versioning? If you’re looking at hybrid methods, you need to be sure that if one of the methods fails, the other will take up the slack.

Trying to figure it all out can be quite confusing without help. The net is full of discussions of what’s best, covering the subject in minute detail. Do your research before you decide which direction is right for you.