Protecting Your Data
Ideally, the best solution for disaster recovery is to avoid it entirely. Unfortunately, hardware failure, corrupt files, and accidental deletion are inevitable. At some point you will have to recover files. With regular backups you can transform a disaster situation into something manageable. ANS understands the extreme importance of backing up data and implements a data backup solution at each client's site.
Data Backup Options
There are various ways to backup data and types of media to backup to. Factors that determine how you backup include the amount of data, portability, archiving, and frequency of access
Tape backup is the tried and true method. Magnetic tape storage such at DAT, DLT, & LTO, are reliable, hold large amounts of data, and are good for archiving. Generally the backup takes place at night with the tapes being changed every morning. Normally the tapes are rotated on a weekly or monthly basis, with an occasional tape taken offsite for archiving. For very large amounts of backup data (generally over 500GB) an autoloader can implemented. This allows a single backup to span multiple tapes without having to manually change the tapes.
- Popular tape backup formats include:
- DDS: DAT tapes with varying native capacities from 4GB to 20GB
- DDS-4: DDS tapes with a capacity of 20GB (40GB compressed)
- DAT72: DDS tapes with a capacity of 32GB (72gb compressed)
- DLT & SDLT: Proprietary format developed by Quantum with capacities ranging from 40GB to 800GB
- LTO: An open alternative to DLT with capacities ranging from 100GB to 800GB
Hard Drive Backup
Inexpensive external hard drives (USB or FireWire) have made backups to external hard drives an option for many. This is a simple and cheap solution for small businesses or individual computers. Some drives come equipped with backup software or a simple 1-button backup solution. While there is a high risk of failure (all the data is consolidated on a single external drive), there is a very slim chance that both the primary hard drive and the external drive will fail at the same time. It's not recommended for mission critical applications but it's much better than no backup.
RAID is not a dedicated backup solution, but rather a method of linking multiple hard drives together for improved performance and redundancy. If one of the hard drives fails, there is another drive with duplicate data so that nothing is lost. There are different "RAID Levels" that determine how the data spans the hard drives:
- RAID 0 (Striped): Blocks of data are stored alternately between two drives. This increases performance and gives you full use of the available disk space, however, it's bad for redundancy and actually increases your risk of losing data if one of the drives fails
- RAID 1 (Mirrored): Each block of data on 1st drive is "mirrored" on the 2nd drive. This gives you a complete, on-the-fly copy of all your data. In the even of a primary drive failure, the backup drive takes over and continues functioning with no loss of data and no immediate down time.
- RAID 5: Somewhat of a combination of RAID0 & RAID1. RAID 5 offers excellent redundancy at a relatively low cost. RAID 5 requires a minimum of 3 drives and, theoretically, you can add an unlimited amount of additional drives to the array. Each additional drive represents additional storage and increased protection against data loss. Many RAID-5 controllers support hot-swapping of drives, allowing an admin to replace a defective drive without any downtime or data loss.
Virtualization and Virtual Machine Backups
Virtualization allow an exact image, or copy, of an entire computer to be backed up. This creates a copy of everything, including low level system software and hardware interaction. In the event of a complete system failure, the image can be loaded onto another computer and run as a "Virtual Machine" as if nothing had changed. This minimizes downtime while the physical computer is being rebuilt and reconfigured. This is much more economical that having an identical spare computer on hand for mission critical servers. It also solves the issue of hardware conflict and failure when trying to restore the operating system and critical system state (such as Active Directory information) to a different computer that it was originally installed on. Virtualization is support in the latest version of Symantec System Recovery.
Windows Backup (NT Backup)
Since the release of Windows NT, microsoft has included basic backup software (NTBackup) with their operating systems. While not full featured, it can backup the System State, Active Directory, and Microsoft Exchange Information Store. NT Backup is a great backup solution for small offices with basic backup needs. Click here for more information on using NT Backup for Exchange.
Symantec Backup Exec
Probably the most commonly used backup software is Symantec Backup Exec. Backup Exec offers a full range of backup features and scheduling conveniences, as well as compatibility with a wide range of backup hardware. Backup Exec will also work across networks, backing up multiple servers or backing up data from laptops on the fly. One of the most valuable features of Backup Exec is its interaction with Exchange, giving it the ability to restore an individual email from an individual mailbox. Symantec also offers a product called System Recovery which is specifically designed to backup an entire computer in the event of a system failure and offers a virtualization option.
Advanced Network Solution strongly recommends a backup & data recovery solution for everyone, individual or business. We can develop and implement a backup solution that best fits your business. Call us at 407.835.7180 or contact us online for more information.