Backing up, archiving, and preparing for disaster recovery are obviously related. They overlap, but each one names a different purpose. Doing a good job at one of them doesn’t mean they’re all covered. Let’s consider what each one involves.
The purpose of a backup is to restore files that are lost or damaged. Recovery needs may range from a single file to an entire drive. A backup volume can be local or remote. It can be quick to access for getting back single files, or intended mostly for bulk recovery. Its focus isn’t long-term storage, though durability is a good quality.
Versioned backups provide extra safety. A file can be corrupted, without being noticed, for a long time. If only the current version is backedup, and it’s corrupted too, that’s not useful. A backup that includes older versions gives a better chance of recovery.
Many approaches are possible:
- An attached drive. Software does frequent incremental backups automatically. It’s convenient, and it’s always up to date. The disadvantage is that malware or physical damage to the computer might affect the backup drive as well.
- A shared storage system. Network attached storage (NAS) provides a large amount of backup space and keeps everyone’s backups together. It simplifies backup management if there are a large number of users.
- Tape backup. Tape is good for high-volume storage and allows saving multiple backups. It’s good for recovering crashed drives, but not very convenient for restoring single files.
- Offsite backup. Cloud storage is safer than any local backup from events that affect a whole office. It needs a fast enough Internet connection.
It’s best to combine onsite and offsite backup. If one method fails, the other will usually keep working.
Long-term archival storage involves a different set of goals. It has several important criteria:
- Selection. Not every file needs to go into an archive. Figuring out which ones are needed can be a complicated task. It’s necessary to take business goals and regulatory requirements into account.
- Durability. Unlike a backup, an archive needs to be kept intact for a long time, usually years. It needs to have its own backup. Storage media will eventually go bad, and old file formats may become difficult to process, so it can require periodic migration to new media and storage formats.
- Identification. The information in an archive needs to make sense years after it’s created. It needs to be well-organized, and it has to include enough metadata to reconstruct its context and purpose.
Maintaining an archive is a more complex task than keeping data backed up.
Backup is a part of disaster recovery preparation, but it’s not the whole story. If a catastrophic event takes out your business systems, you need a way of getting up and running again as quickly as possible. Being confident of that requires a recovery plan.
When disaster strikes, it’s necessary to bring up an alternate system. Speed is essential; every minute that a company’s systems are down means lost productivity and income. If systems are down too long, it affects the confidence of customers and partners. Bringing new machines onto the premises might not be feasible if the damage is severe, and getting them running is time-consuming.
The systems not only need to come back quickly, but with little or no data loss. If the recovery system has to roll back to the previous day’s records, it will take a lot of work to bring them up to date. The backup needs to be ongoing to avoid losing business data.
Cloud-based disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) lets your business operate with confidence that if serious damage happens, downtime will be short and data won’t be lost. StorTrust gives you the highest confidence that your data is always backed up and that you’re prepared for any disaster that may come.