Happy World Backup Day: Do you know where your backups are?
Apr 17, 2015
by John Carney
Carney Consulting, LLC
World backup day was March 31st, and no, it was not an April Fools day joke. So, I thought I would provide some information on what makes a good backup, and why it is important to know where your backups are located.
I have seen where people add a USB hard drive to their computer because they are out of space, and then move large amounts of data to this drive. They think “Great, now I have a backup of my information AND more space on my hard drive.” Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more wrong. My definition of a backup is pretty simple. You store your data in 2 places, i.e. your computer AND an external drive. That way, if one drive fails, you have another copy of your data. Sadly, I’ve seen many times where years of pictures, videos and music have been lost because of this misconception.
So, what makes a good backup? In the business world, you should have backups of your critical data hourly. That way, you have a backup that you can use to restore a file that may have been deleted or became corrupt. This backup can be as simple as having a program backup to a USB drive.
But, what if a water pipe bursts right above your server and ruins the server AND the backup drive. What then? Or, perhaps you are the unfortunate target of theft. Likely, your server will disappear along with the external drive, AND your backups.
In my opinion, the best backup solution is to use a local backup for file level recovery, and an off-site copy for disaster recovery. That way, you have a full image that can be used to restore your data once the hardware is repaired.
So why is knowing where your backups are stored off-site important? For many of the cloud based backup solutions, the data is not local at all. It may be in San Jose, Seattle or Denver. And just like network connections at your home, their network connection is very fast to get data in, but very slow to get data out.
This can be a huge problem if you are in a recovery situation. It could take days to get a copy of your backup downloaded online, and if they have to ship you the image on a drive, it can be very costly and take up to 2 weeks.
When looking for a backup solution, here are a couple of things to consider:
1. How granular is the backup solution, i.e. every hour, once a day, or once a week.
2. How easy is it to recover a single file from the backups? Can you do it or do you have to call someone to do it for you.
3. Where are your backups located? If they are in a data center that is local, you have the potential to be up and running in the same day or possibly the next. If they are not, who knows how long it will take.