Backups and Sleep

Make it Simple Please

Now if your reading you may have worked out what I’m going on about.  Backups and where to store them.  We all know that you need to back up your data and keep it safe and there are loads of software solutions out there who all say and do the same, they backup your data and store it where you tell it to.

Now from all the options where do you put your faith should you ever need to recover a files, folder or system?  As a sys admin do you sleep at night or do you ask yourself did I set that backup correctly will it run?  Well all I’m going to say a backup can only be classed as working if you can recover a whole system using it without losing a file.  Now I’m not going to make everyone recover a complete system each time they need a file but I am asking when was the last time you checked to see if your backup would recover the system.  Basically can you sleep knowing that when that phone call comes you can get out of bed and work your magic and save the day.

Quick Option Guide

  1. File based backup, each time the backup runs it produces a copy of the file for that data and time
  2. Image Based Backup, this is a complete image of the system so everything is included each time the backup is run.
  3. Replication, not really a backup but to replicate the data on one system to another incase there is a problem.

What to use

Every client has a different need and depending on what the ultimate goal is. I don’t just mean backup the data and hope it works.

Some clients need to be able to fully restore their data and be working in a time frame which seems nearly impossible but there are solutions which can do this.  Others just need to be back up and running as soon as possible.  Depending on how quickly you need your data back and of course the budget you have will tend to lead the decision on what type of backup.

From experience file based backups are a cheap starting point allowing full system restores or individual files even email restores but they can be one of the slowest when doing a full system restore.  Image based backup are quicker at the full system recovery level but the backed up data file is as help full for just digging out a file or email.  It can be done but takes a little more work than file based backups.  Then replication, well my experience is great if you have the budget for a second or third device and the storage and network to copy files over as a direct copy of your system.

Therefore it’s a call between file based and image based as I said everyone if different and only by looking at what your true goals are can lead to an informed answer.  If you want to talk more about backups and your options please call on 01869 220280 as always happy to help.

Where to Store

Once you have worked out what type of backup and the frequency you need to store the data safely and securely if you need it.  Now that being said you have to work out how much storage space to allow your current data and for all the new data you will be backing up.  A good rule to follow is to use a factor of 3.  If you currently have 200GB of data then look at data storage of a least 600GB allowing for three backups.  What I tend to go with is for any backup at least double what you have and add a bit.

Now you have worked out how much storage you need, it’s time to go back to your backup solutions and see what type of storage they support.  e.g. USB Drive, NAS, Cloud.  This will in turn allow you to work out the costs involved for each option.  There are loads of possibilities so I’m not going through them here but again if you want to know more please call on 01869 220280 and we can have a chat about them.

Personally use a local device for quick recovery and then have this device backed up to a cloud location so there is always two copies of your data.  One Local and one Safely offsite.  Just make sure that when you use cloud you know where your data is being stored and you are happy with the provider.

Final Point

Although there is no right or wrong way to go about your backups hence why I have not used any in-depth information above a backup is only any good if it can be used when you need to use it.  In order for you to work the miracle of recovering the data you need to test that the back up works.  This can be from grabbing a single file or by recovering the system and making sure it boots and allows you to use it.  So please what ever method you go with always find time to test your backups as when you need them it too late to save the information you need.