At the dawn of the 21st century, the information age is taking shape gradually. Between data corruption, intentional or unintentional deletion, equipment containing data being misplaced, lost or stolen, ransomware attacks and retention policies, making sure our data is always available and recoverable has become not only important but imperative.
No matter the industry you find yourself in, you generate large amounts of data every day, from your mobile devices, to your computers, from your removable drives to your cloud stored information. How much of that data are you willing to lose to ransomware or deletion? Probably none or maybe a little bit. This is the reason your organization needs to have a solid backup strategy that is in line with your requirements and policies.
What you need to know
A backup is a preserved point in time copy of your data stored in an alternative location. Before deciding to invest in any backup equipment or software you need to answer the following question.
What is the data that is important to you?
The response should contain things like file servers, operating systems, applications, software configurations etc. This will allow you to filter out things that are not important for the organization such as staff personal information that may be saved on their devices.
Do you want to backup entire systems or just data contained?
You will need to think through what you want to do when it is actually time to restore. You may prefer to restore an entire system or server to a previous state or you would rather redeploy the service and just restore the data and configuration settings. This question is important because it influences the size of the data and the solution you may go for.
How often must you take a backup?
The term typically used to summarize this question is RPO (Recovery Point Objective). You need to understand that you will definitely lose some data when a disaster occurs. The point here is to minimize the impact to the minimum possible. If you take a backup every 24h it means you can go back in time 23 hours 59 minutes. You need to keep in mind that the frequency at which you take backup may affect live or production systems performance and create bottlenecks.
How much data would that be in an uncompressed format?
You will also need to know the total amount of data in Terabyte that you will be backing up. The quantity of data will allow you to have a realistic view of how long it will take to restore that data; this is called RTO (Recovery Time Objective).
How long do you need to keep the backup?
Last but not least, you need to define a realistic retention period i.e. how long the backup data needs to be kept. Here is something to think of: if your backup takes 1TB per month and you keep it for 5 years, it will require about 60TB to be retained. Did you realize this simple calculation does not factor in unexpected growth?
What you need to do
Apply the 3-2-1 rule
Backing up your data does not guarantee you will be able to recover it. We recommend using the 3-2-1 rule when it comes to taking backup. The rule specifies you need to keep three copies of your data on two different types of media with one of them offsite. Applying this rule increases your chances to perform a successful restore when it is needed.
Chose the right backup infrastructure
Now that you know what you are backing up and for how long you need to keep it, it is time to look at how you will be backing it up. Some of the best software we recommend are Veritas and Veeam backup software coupled with hardware dedupe appliances such as Dell EMC Data Domain or HPE StoreOnce. You may also want to look at cloud storage, Tape Drives or Tape Libraries for your long-term/offsite retention. Tape provides you with the best $/TB ratio and it is air-gapped, so hackers cannot access them; whereas cloud provides you with permanent availability.
When your data is backed up, you will have to test it at specific intervals to verify recoverability. Do not wait till it is time to perform a recovery to realize that the backup is invalid.
Creating a simple, comprehensive and global backup strategy can be a hurdle. Keep it as simple as possible and try as much as possible to use a single solution for all your workloads. Keep only critical data and have a plan to regenerate lost data in the case of a disaster. Be mindful of ransomware; try as much as possible to keep some your backed-up data offline.
We provide free backup strategy discussions and budgeting. Our pre-sales engineers are always ready to help you prepare your backup strategy and help you meet your business needs. To discuss this or other data availability needs, call us on +233.54.431.5710 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apotica, headquartered in Accra, Ghana brings together the best information and communications technologies to help clients grow, compete and serve their customers better.