Tuesday Take-Away: Think in These Terms About Backup

In last week’s Tuesday Take-Away, I wrote about understanding requirements before thinking technology when it comes to backup, restore, and recovery.  The number of emails and questions I received was rewarding.  So, I thought I would take this time this week to define some terms and answer questions that I received in response to last week’s post.

Retention Period versus Retention Point

The Retention Period is the time period during which data is available to restore or recover.  A Retention Point is a point in time from which you can select to recover or restore your data.  Some backup solutions limit the retention period; others limit the number of retention points.  Be sure you understand how long data will stay in your backups if it deleted by a user.

Better solutions give you the ability to set both the retention period and the number of retention points for each backup set you create.  Great solutions offer Continuous Data Protection, where the system backs up files every time they change.

Off-Site versus Online Backups

Off-Site Backups are those in which the data is kept off-site.  While in some cases, off-site backups run between a company’s locations and data centers, off-site backups include backups to hosting companies and cloud-based providers.   In many cases, off-site backups provide for a local backup to disk that is then copied to an off-site location.  For some off-site services, the on-site backup history is complete, the off-site backup history is limited and intended for recovery more than restore.

Online Backups are those in which the data is backed up to an online service.  Better online backup services offer local backup copy options.   Online backup services will keep your full backup history in a vault; the local backup copy can be a limited set or a full set.

Online versus Disk-Based versus Vault Recovery

While every off-site and online backup solution gives you the ability to restore over the Internet, methods for recovery differ.

As the name implies, Online Recovery is over the Internet.  You restore your system to the point that you can start recovering files from you backup.  This is easy and reliable, but will be painfully slow.  Online recovery times are limited by your Internet bandwidth.

Disk-Based Recovery is when you recovery your files from a local or temporary disk drive.  Many off-site and online backup solutions will place your files on a DVD or a USB drive and ship it to you.  For some services, however, you need to send them the media first, adding to your RTO time.  Other services perform the restore, so your data is no longer encrypted when they send it to you.

A Vault-Based Recovery occurs when your online or off-site backup service ships you a complete vault — a computer with your encrypted data and the vault control software.  The backup software recognizes that the vault is now local and recovers your data securely at local network speeds.  Once on-site, recovering data from a vault is the fastest options, as data transfer rates are much greater than via the Internet or slower media such as DVDs and USB drives.

If you have more questions or comments about the in’s and out’s of backup solutions, please comment below or send me a message.

Next week, I’ll answer the question: “Is VDR a Cure?”


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