Ahead of World Backup Day 2020 – All Things You Need to Know

Peter Peng
March 5, 2020

Regardless of the type of business or the size of your organization, backup, i.e. a security copy or data backup should be a very important part of IT operations in a company. Awareness of the risk and consequences associated with data loss is the first step to introduce the right policy and technological solutions to ensure business continuity. This translates into the choice of techniques for making copies, storage, testing and playback. On the occasion of World Backup Day, which is only a couple of weeks ahead from now, we’ve gathered the most important information about backups.

Why a backup?

Looking at the company from a backup perspective, we see data in the form of applications, databases or files. Very often, their loss is associated with high costs, and in extreme cases can lead to bankruptcy of the company. There can be many reasons for data loss and we should not consider them in terms of whether, but only when they occur. From the error of a user who has overwritten or deleted production data, through the failure or theft of equipment for disasters such as fire or flood – if we cannot exclude the occurrence of a given event, then we should protect ourselves against it.

Very dangerous, and at the same time common is the threat in the form of ransomware programs that encrypt data and require a decryption fee. In poorly secured environments, they can not only deprive us of production data, but also damage the backup copy, preventing it from being restored. Analysis of the risk and impact of data loss on a company’s operations will allow it to choose technology and prepare well for even the most pessimistic scenario.

How to secure data?

If we are already aware of the risk of data loss and know how much impact this can have on our business, it’s time to choose the right preventive measures and secure our data. Of course, there are many methods of securing data, but it is worth taking a closer look at the most common one, i.e. the backup copy also called backup.

Backup is a copy of data made at a specific point in time, which is usually stored for a longer period of time so that it can be restored in the event of loss or damage. Depending on the parameters assumed for the copy, the amount of data and the length of the backup window, we choose the method that best suits our expectations.

For example – an incremental copy will perform faster than a full one, but it is more complex and it may take longer to restore than a full one.

Where to store backup data?

The storage space on which we store our copies is also significant. Keeping them on the same resource on which the production system works is pointless, because in the event of a failure we lose production data and a backup copy. In the case of disk resources, you must also be aware that the restore operation usually involves the need to read a large amount of data, and this may contribute to the failure of the resource (e.g. disk) on which we keep the copy. 

This risk can be reduced by using several drives and combining them into a RAID array.

Making security copies to the cloud and the use of complete BaaS (Backup as a Service) solutions is becoming increasingly popular. These solutions provide great flexibility and do not require large financial outlays when running the solution.

Remember – we always make a backup copy to an external resource.

What to remember when creating backups?

Very important aspects of making backup copies are:

  • Automation
  • Control
  • Security

Automating backup tasks reduces the risk of an administrator failing or failing to do so. Computers do not forget and if we order them to perform a specific task periodically, they will do it. 

Unfortunately, even if we have automated backup tasks, there may be situations in which, for some reason, the copy was not created or its creation resulted in an error, e.g. in the case of lack of free space on the disk resource. So we have to control this process and repeat the task if something went wrong.

Some facts about backup archiving

These days, data is worth to us as much as items, and sometimes even more valuable. The more work we put into preparing the document, or the more unique it contains information, the more it means to us. 

Another thing that today is important for us is not only to restore our data to the state it had before our computer crashed, but also to restore its efficiency in the shortest possible time, and if it still had exactly the same settings and exactly the software we installed on it, it was would it just be perfect? To this end, programs that are used to backup our data and the entire system are in a hurry, of course none of them is perfect, but everyone can find something for themselves.

For backup tasks, I chose software for creating and restoring data backups, as well as the entire workstation and laptop system created by MiniTool Software. The program called MiniTool ShadowMaker, as the name implies, it supports client terminals under the control of the Windows operating system.

The so-called issues I will move the backup from time to time, both about the software itself and about the backup strategiesIf you are planning a backup strategy, you realize that you also need to think about archiving it. However, you may not know that this type of backup is completely different from the more well-known, everyday and ready to recover type of backup. 

Don’t worry, in this article, we also look at the differences between these types of backups and describe what you need to consider when implementing a backup strategy.

Backup archiving has a completely different purpose

When backing up, you usually expect two results: quick data recovery after a system crash, or easy recovery when data is lost or damaged. This is correct for most backups – however, backup archiving is an exception. This is a completely different form of backup because it primarily focuses on long-term data storage.

In some countries, industry regulations and rules are the motivating factor behind the need to archive backups. Different industries have different requirements as to how long data must be stored, but in general this time is measured in years or even decades. This means that the main purpose of backup archiving is the ability to access data and search for a long period of time, and thus, the speed of restoring this data is not as important here as with other types of backups.

More important with this type of backup is the certainty that:

  • Data can be restored and remain available for a longer period of 
  • The data is kept efficiently to make sure that the backup costs will not increase
  • The saved data can be easily found if required
  • The data is secure

Choose the best storage medium

Since archived data must be stored much longer than most other backup forms, this also affects the type of media where the data is stored. While HDDs are great places to backup, their vulnerability to transport damage makes them less ideal for backup archiving. The worst nightmare would be to carefully archive data for many years to finally find out that the device has been damaged if it is necessary to recover it.

Moreover, the longer the data accumulates, the more it is. For this reason, you need to consider the capacity of archiving devices. By using an HDD, you may need to purchase multiple devices.

On the other hand, some of the devices that are not perfect for data recovery will be much better for archiving. The tape is a good example because it is much slower than disk when it comes to data recovery, but cheaper and more efficient when it comes to storing large amounts of information.

It is also more durable in transport to the place where you store your devices for archiving.

External drives and cartridge are also a good solution. They provide inexpensive and portable backup media that can be stored for many years. They have capacity restrictions, so if the amount of memory is very important to us, you can think about modern backup tapes.

The cloud is another option for long-term archiving. Many companies offer this solution. This may be a good choice, but there are several factors to consider: will the company you want to entrust storage of data still exist when you want to recover it? What are the costs associated with data recovery? 

Restoring data is a completely separate topic

As mentioned earlier, unlike other backup types, speed is generally not the most important thing when restoring data from archived copies. Reliability is more important. The last thing you need is meticulous archiving for many years, just to discover that no data can be recovered.

Periodic restore tests are a key element in all forms of backup, and are even more valuable for archived copies. Regular tests are necessary to ensure that the data you collect remains available.

It is also worth mentioning that in the long term you will have to ensure compatibility. This may mean the behavior of older hardware and software, even if it is no longer produced, as new systems may be incompatible with ours.

The application makes it easy to archive backups

File Archiving is a file-level backup that includes conversion, encryption, and is compatible with a tape drive, making it easy to create reliable backups.

Also, System protection can be used for archiving purposes and, although it does not include compression, it offers the bonus of being able to recover archived backups on your computer in bare metal mode if it is required in the specificity of the environment.

In addition, you can easily access the archived data using the recovery console and, if necessary, perform a restore test.

Do you remember the 3 basic tasks of backup archiving that we mentioned above? MiniTool ShadowMaker meets them:

  • Supports a wide range of storage media, so you can be sure that your archived backups are stored reliably over a long period of time. This includes tape drives, HDDs, SSDs and more.
  • The file-archiving backup contains extensive compression options to minimize the impact on the total backup volume at the destination
  • The recovery console makes it easy to locate the backup you are looking for.

Data protection is a very unpopular area of ​​information technology, whose usefulness is often questioned. Therefore, it is worth looking at the challenges that companies or individual user face in the field of backup and restore, as well as dispel a number of misconceptions and methods functioning in this area.

In Conclusion

To make a backup, the system needs to copy not only the data, but also the metadata. The latter are done quite a lot in the case of large collections of small files. Even when it comes to making an incremental or differential backup, the backup system must check each file for any changes. Even if the file does not need to be copied, it takes time to check. 

The subject of data security, including backup, is very broad and difficult to describe in detail in one article. Remember – less important is how we do backup – more important is that we are able to restore data, and back up on a regular basis is the best bet.

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