Disaster Recovery: Choosing a backup-Part II

May 18, 2016

In our last blog post, we discussed the common barriers to implementing an adequate DR/data backup strategy, as well as the two biggest factors that should be considered when choosing a plan.

As we alluded to previously, this is a big decision, and to ensure you are making the best decision for your business, we encourage decision makers to consult professionals.

To simplify a complicated solution set, we have broken down backup options into three basic levels.

Level 1 – Simple Backups – Data Only – Files can be restored, server need to be rebuilt

In simple backup solutions, files and documents are backed up locally and/or off-site for quick recovery and to the cloud for offsite disaster recovery.

This does not fully backup your server build, which comprises the operating system and any installed 3rd party software. In case of a server loss, the server would have to be rebuilt with the operating system, any 3rd party software, and then the files would be restored.

This means that your data will be safe, but in the course of restoring your server, software systems and operating systems will likely have to be reinstalled, if not repurchased. Aside from potential additional cost, the recovery time from disaster to resuming operations can be extensive while servers are rebuilt.

Level 2 – High Availability Backups – Data and virtualized – Server and data can be restored

High availability backups creates snapshots that are backed up locally and offsite.

A snapshot backup is a type of backup copy used to create the entire architectural instance/copy of an application, disk or system. It is used in backup processes to restore the system or disk of a particular device at a specific time. It is a process that runs in the background, somewhat like an auto-save function on a word processor document, and allows restoration to the last snapshot. Any changes made after the last snapshot will not be restored.

This backup does include the operating system and any 3rd party software, as well as files and documents that were intact at the time of backup. It is a more comprehensive backup/restore process, and should require less time to return to normal operations.

Level 3 – Real-Time Backups – near instant recovery because everything is fully replicated

Real time backups are also known as Continuous Data Protection (CDP).

Traditional backups can only restore data to the point at which the backup was done. With continuous data protection, data is written to your onsite server it is also written/replicated to a second offsite server. This means that all data is recorded in both the onsite and backup locations simultaneously, creating a full data backup in real time.

The implication is that there will never be any data lost, and no manual backups are necessary. Recovery time is rapid.

There are several factors that help determine which level of backup system is appropriate for your business. We briefly discussed the two primary factors – cost and archive needs – in the last blog post. Several more factors that are unique to each business are also considered when creating a DR/backup strategy:

Time to restore – A backup is only as good as its ability to restore data in a timely fashion.  Since business models vary, the amount of time to restore may be within tolerance of one company, and completely unacceptable to another.

Restore time is generally proportional to the amount of data that needs to be recovered.  The more data, the longer the restore time.

Budget – This one is simple, but it is a very important deciding factor.  Very thorough on-site/off-site solutions with a lot of data to protect cost a lot, depending on the amount of data you need to protect.  If that type of solution is outside of your budget, you will need to adjust your expectations or your budget.

Risk – Calculating risk is a fairly simple equation.  We take the amount of data that you need to protect, then add archive requirements to produce a solution that factors in your businesses time to restore requirements. We then factor in your budget to come up with the most probable solution.  Your risk will vary, depending on how your budget meets your needs.  Generally, the higher your budget is in relation to the amount of data you need protected, the lower your risk.


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