If asked, could you explain your company’s strategy when it comes to backups? Too many decision makers today take the view that a backup is a backup is a backup, and as long as you’re backing up your data regularly, that’s all you need to do. While backups do save you during situations involving data loss, the right strategy can actually offer a number of other benefits, including saving you time, disk space, and bandwidth. The challenge is that in order to enjoy those benefits, you need to carefully construct your backup strategy.
Multiple Backup Types
First things first – understand that in order to really enjoy all the benefits available, your strategy needs to include multiple types of backups or levels. By understanding the different levels, you can construct a plan that ensures complete data protection, while also saving time, hassle, and space.
A full backup is exactly what it sounds like – the duplication of all the data on a specific system. For example, a full backup of your workstation’s hard drive (usually C:) would store all the data found on that drive.
The issue with a full backup is that it only backs up data found on that drive or volume. So, if a new directory or drive is added, that data will not be backed up. For instance, suppose someone saves vital business data to D: rather than to C:, but only C: is backed up regularly. That means the data on D: is in danger.
Incremental: Incremental backups are frequently used and help to save time. Essentially, they build on a full backup but only record information that has changed since the last backup. Note that this is the last backup of any type, including incremental backups.
The issue here is that this process can waste a lot of time and disk space. For instance, suppose you have a 25 GB file, but only 2 GB of that file have changed. In traditional incremental backups, the entire file would be updated in the backup, even though only part of the file changed. With block-based incremental backups, that’s not the case. Only the portions of the data that changed are backed up.
A differential backup is one that updates any data that has changed since the last full backup. As such, it is not an ideal solution for all backup needs. It is also an older style of backup that relied primarily on tapes. If you are still using tapes, consider upgrading to modern backup technology.
Forever Incremental Backup
Forever incremental backups designed to use a block-based approach can save a dramatic amount of time and bandwidth while ensuring that you have access to all of your essential data. This method ensures that all changed information is always updated in the backup.
Archive Bit Backup
The archive bit is an old way of determining if a file had been modified, thus requiring updating and backup. Today, it really only applies to the host end of the equation – a data center, for instance. However, host backups are becoming rarer and rarer with the push toward virtualization.
Creating Your Data Backup Strategy
Ultimately, your business’ unique needs will dictate which types of backup you use, and when. However, for a growing number of businesses, an initial full backup/disk architected, followed by forever incremental backups is more than sufficient. Still, there are differences that may impact your business. The use of outdated tape technology, for instance, or failing to use block-based backup methodology. The best option is to ensure that your business is making use of modern backup techniques and technologies, and then build your strategy to suit organizational needs.