Click to learn more about author Matt VanderZwaag.
It’s no coincidence that World Backup Day falls the day before April Fool’s Day. The founders of the initiative want to impress upon the public that the loss of data resulting from a failure to back up is nothing to laugh at. From mission-critical business information to personal photos and videos, data has become a vital component of our personal and professional lives.
It is estimated we now create and generate over 1.8 zettabytes of data per year. So, it’s surprising to find research studies reporting that nearly 30 percent of us have never backed up our data. Even more shocking are studies that state only four in 10 companies have a documented disaster recovery (DR) plan. Of those companies that have a plan, only 40 percent test it at least once a year.
Disaster Recovery plans don’t have to be overly complicated – they just have to exist. And, they must be regularly tested to ensure they work as planned. The following provides a brief overview of some of the key components to consider in a DR plan to help ensure your data is backed up and available when you need it.
Roll Back with Backup
A backup creates data copies at regular intervals that are saved to a hard drive, tape, disk or virtual tape library and stored offsite. If you lose your original data, you can retrieve copies. This practice is particularly useful if your data is corrupted at some point. You simply “roll back” to a copy of the data before it was corrupted.
Other than storage media costs, backups are relatively inexpensive. However, it may take time for your IT staff to retrieve and recover data. So backups are usually reserved for data you can do without for 24 hours and not impede your operations.
Application performance can also be affected each time a backup is completed. However, backup is a cost-effective means of meeting certain compliance requirements and for granular recovery, such as recovering a single user’s emails from three years ago. It serves as a “safety net” for your data and has a distinct place in your DR plan.
You can opt for a third-party vendor to handle your backups. For maximum efficiency and security, companies that offer Cloud-based backups may be preferable. Some allow you to back up data from any physical or virtual infrastructure, or Windows workstation, to their Cloud service. You can then access your data any time, from anywhere. Some also offer backups as a managed service, handling everything from remediation of backup failures to system/file restores to source.
Look Ahead with Data Replication
Similar to backup, data replication copies and moves data to another location. The difference is that replication copies data in real- or near-real time, so you have a more up-to-date copy.
Replication is usually performed outside your operating system in the cloud. Because a copy of all your mission-critical data is there, you can “failover” and migrate production seamlessly. There’s no need to wait for backup tapes to be pulled.
Replication costs more than backup, so it’s often reserved for mission-critical applications that must always run for operations to continue during any business interruption, making it a key component of a DR plan.
Keep in mind that the replication process copies every change, even if the change resulted from an error or a virus. To access data before a change occurs, the replication process must be combined with continuous data protection or another type of technology to create recovery points to roll back to if required. That’s one of the benefits of a Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solution.
The DRaaS Solution
DRaaS solutions provide benefits that make them an attractive option for DR plans. By employing true continuous data protection, a DRaaS solution can offer a recovery point objective (RPO) of a few seconds. Applications can be recovered instantly and automatically — in some cases with a service level agreement (SLA) based RTO of minutes.
DRaaS solutions also use scalable infrastructure, allowing virtual access of assets with little or no hardware and software expenditures, saving money on software licenses and hardware. Because third parties manage DRaaS solutions, your internal IT resources are available for other initiatives. DRaaS platforms vary, so research your options to find the one that best meets your needs.
Plan Ahead with Disaster Recovery
A DR plan is essentially a data protection strategy; one that contains numerous components to help ensure the data your business needs is there when you need it if a man-made or natural disaster strikes.