What Is a True Backup Solution?

August 16, 2016 The TNS Group

What Is Backup?

Backup involves copying files to a second disk, tape, NAS, or any available medium that is designed for storage, serving to protect data in case the first medium fails. It is crucial to back up your files often, as even the most reliable computer is apt to break down at some point. In fact, it is recommended that you make 2-3 backups of all your files, keeping one backup in a different location from the others for extra security. Backup programs conveniently tend to compress the data, requiring less space to store. This can all be done using operating system commands or by purchasing a special-purpose backup utility.

Why Is It Important?

It’s easy to underestimate the importance of backup until it is too late. Of course, when you have lost years of hard work and special memories saved on your computer (business documents, photos, music, etc.), the importance of having a backup becomes clearer.

Cloud Storage VS Cloud Backup?

Here is where it gets confusing. Does cloud storage work for backups? Or can a cloud backup become storage? What if we can call both an Offsite storage, will that make it easy to understand? Yes, we can consider both as offsite storage and then the only difference is what you are sending to the cloud. Are you storing your files on the cloud directly or are you sending your local backups to be stored in the cloud? Lets go into more details:

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage services allow access to easy sharing of files from any device, anywhere. Popular cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive will Provide a space where you can access, modify, share, and transfer files online. They allow collaborative sharing as well so that the same file can be viewed and modified by other concerned users.

Cloud Backup

Cloud backup secures your data and business continuity by automatically backing up your files, servers, applications, and virtual machines to store them safely for recovery in case of a disaster. It is basically a strategy for backing up data that involves sending a copy of the data over the Internet to an off-site server. The server is usually hosted by a third-party service provider, who charges the backup customer a fee based on capacity, bandwidth or number of users.

The question is, how would I restore from these files? How easy can I get my business up and running in case of a disaster? What would be my down time? When you start asking yourself these types of questions you are in need of a complete backup solution, also known as Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Solution.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Solutions (BCDR)?

There are a lot of articles and definitions about this topic when you start to search the internet. One of the articles that I liked most was written by Margaret Rouse , TechTarget – WhatIs.com.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR or BC/DR) are closely related practices that describe an organization’s preparation for unforeseen risks to continued operations. The trend of combining business continuity and disaster recovery into a single term has resulted from a growing recognition that both business executives and technology executives need to be collaborating closely instead of developing plans in isolation.

In general, disaster recovery refers to specific steps taken to resume operations in the aftermath of a catastrophic natural disaster or national emergency. In information technology, such steps may include restoring servers or mainframes with backups, re-establishing private branch exchanges (PBX) or provisioning local area networks (LANs) to meet immediate business needs.

Business continuity describes the processes and procedures an organization must put in place to ensure that mission-critical functions can continue during and after a disaster. In this sense, the concept is interchangeable with a disaster recovery plan (DRP). Business continuity, however, also addresses more comprehensive planning that focuses on long term or chronic challenges to organizational success. Potential business continuity problems may include the illness or departure of key team members, supply chain breakdowns, catastrophic failures or critical malware infections.

I couldn’t explain that better than what Margaret wrote in her article above.

The Solution?

In conclusion, you need a backup solution that you can rely on locally and be able to seamlessly restore your servers or PCs when they break down. But you also need a backup of backup stored in a secondary location in case of a disaster and again be able to restore from or possibly to fail over to the secondary location when severe outage occurs – either due to a natural disaster or national emergency.  In addition, you also need the option to fully restore your data and fail back to the primary location when the disaster is cleared.

Most of the enterprise businesses consider building a DR site that is used when a primary location becomes unusable due to failure or disaster. There are some tools available especially when you are running in a virtual environment where you can replicate all of your virtual machines on schedule from one site to another. In that case a fail-over can only takes minutes and the down time will be very minimal.

What if you are running in a physical environment? No worries, you still can have complete backup solutions at a decent price. The solution will involve a backup appliance with a local disk storage that is sized carefully to hold all backups for the local servers at the operating system level. It will also include additional storage for the incremental backups and a retention policy that is easy to adjust according to your need. After local backups are taken on schedule and verified, now you own half of the complete solution because you can now restore your servers locally if anything breaks. The other half of the solution is the off-site portion of it, which will give you comfort when you are certain that your backups are also stored in the cloud. Not only that but you can also virtualize your physical servers in the cloud and access them remotely. That sounds great and all business owners love it – the only issue is the cost! The cost always involves disk size that is occupied by your backups, for how long you want to keep the data, your retention policy and the bandwidth. But does the cost really compare to building a DR site. Of course not!

A lot of small to medium businesses rely on these solutions because they can’t invest their money on building a DR site. However they can always afford paying for a complete backup solution such as the one we discussed above.

Now that you know how important a backup solution is, are you ready to purchase one?

Contact us today and we can work collaboratively with you to find the right solution!

References:

“Backup.” What Is Backup? Wikipedia Definition. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2016.

“Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Solutions (BCDR)” by Margaret Rouse  TechTarget – WhatIs.com.

By Hassan Aboulfetouh, Engineering, The TNS Group

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