Backups: Which Type Should You Have And Where Should You Store Them?


August 18, 2015

Whether technology is managed in-house or by a managed services provider, ensuring all company data is backed up appropriately is crucial to network performance. Not all backups are created equally and the location of backup data storage can be almost as important as having them in the first place.


File-based and Image-based Backups

There are two major types of backups: a file-based and image-based. Each file in storage is backed up individually when file-based backups are utilized. The more popular solutions are CrashPlan, Carbonite, MozyPro and Backblaze. These products run on workstations and servers and back up any and all files of your choice. Depending on the configuration, they can also upload changes to the cloud storage.

Image-based backups take a full picture of the workstation or server and will then only back up items that change. Popular image-based backups are ShadowProtect, Norton, Veeam and Acronis.


Which Backup Is Best?

When it comes to home use, file-based backups can be a great solution, but I do not recommend them in a business environment, particularly if you are running any database-based line of business (LOB) applications.

For example, if a file is backed up, there is no guarantee that a third party LOB application will be able to be reinstalled on new hardware and use that same file. This is after you have purchased new hardware and manually reinstalled all necessary software, because only the base files were backed up.

Since file-based backups also require you to pick what is backed up, there is no guarantee important files are not missed by mistake. With an image-based backup the entire server can be easily restored and be up and running with no major reinstalls needed.

Where Should I Store My Backups?

The location of the backup data storage is just as critical of a component as the service itself. If data is backed up to an external hard drive and that hard drive fails, all backup history is lost forever. In a worst case scenario, if your business is destroyed in a disaster and there are no offsite backups, what could you do other than wish you had chosen a different backup policy?

At a bare minimum, backups should involve rotating hard drives offsite on a daily basis to ensure a minimum amount of data is lost should a disaster strike. An even better solution is to back up to a network-attached storage (NAS) device.  A NAS will have multiple hard drives, so that if one fails, another copy is still retained for quick data recovery. The solution will avoid the issues that arise when you must rely on a person to remember to rotate a hard drive and to verify the backups are working.

With our hosted backups, we recommend backing up data to a local NAS and then replicating to our datacenter. The backups in our datacenter have geographic redundancy and allow us to spin up a server in the case of a local site disaster, such as a fire. Thus, our clients’ can be up and running without even having to wait for hardware replacements for the server. Depending on requirements, the local backups might even be used to spin up a server with onsite equipment.

I hope in this brief blog I’ve shown how backups are a critical component of a network, how the data is backed up and where it is stored.

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