All businesses are dependent on technology, but each of them manages its IT differently. However, there’s a common element when it comes to preparing against disasters: backup. So, what is backup? It’s essential for everyone interested in disaster recovery to know the basics about backup.
What Is Backup?
Backup refers to the copying and archiving of computer data so it may be used to restore the original version after a data loss event. Data backup is vital for maintaining business continuity.
A company can back up files, databases or full computer systems. The data can be backed up continuously or following a schedule (overnight for example).
E.g.: One can decide to do a full backup of the receptionist’s desktop. It will copy the operating system files, user profiles, all documents, browser favorites, application configurations… everything on the hard drive(s).
How to Back Up?
Backing up data usually requires:
- Some backup software installed on a server
- Backup “agents” (also software) installed on the computers containing the original data
- Storage to keep the data copies
ℹ️ Note: Some small businesses will use Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive to sync work files to the cloud, and they will consider this as their backup. Let’s be clear, these file sync and share products cannot be considered a reliable backup solution.
What Will Backup Software Help You Do?
Backup software protects critical data and enables its recovery within a business’s recovery time objective (RTO). RTO is the maximum tolerable length of time that a computer, system, network, or application can be down after a failure or disaster occurs.
There are specific solutions made for data backup and archiving. They will not only help you restore single files but also make it possible to completely rebuild your IT environment in case it crashes.
Not all backup solutions are capable of completely restoring a computer system or other complex system configurations. Therefore, business owners should be very careful in selecting the right backup solution that responds to their company’s needs.
E.g.: If the receptionist’s computer crashes, a new desktop can be installed and the full backup of the faulty desktop will be restored on the new one. The receptionist will then have access to the same environment as if nothing happened.
What Type of Storage Is Used for Backup?
Local hard drives can be used for backup, but because they are not portable media, they are not a fully reliable solution. For safety, your backups need to be stored in a different place than the original data. Local storage won’t help you achieve that.
Tape-based backup systems have been in use for a long time. Tape is magnetic media that can be read or written through a drive or a library. It’s the preferred method of long-term storage and it’s portable.
Despite the low cost and portability of tape, fewer businesses are choosing it because of the total cost of ownership (TCO). Tape requires manipulation because the media must be loaded to a drive to read or write data, and moved to other premises for safety. This means a resource should be assigned to the task, which adds costs to managing the solution.
The trendiest solution is cloud storage. It’s not just trendy because of the buzz surrounding it. It’s trendy because of the benefits.
ℹ️ Note: Some small businesses have been using floppy disks, CDs or DVDs to save their data, at the expense of security and reliability. Optical media should never be used to store business data in the long term. Floppy disks are obsolete.
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Tape Vs. Cloud: What's Best?
Now that you've understood what is backup, take a deep dive into the comparison between cloud and tape.