Mon, January 18, 2016

Data Back Up & Recovery 101

Backup and recovery; it’s a critical piece of every disaster recovery program, but not always top of mind. Many organizations (and people for that matter) believe that a disaster is something that happens to other people, other organizations, but not them.

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes with ramifications that range from subtle, to detrimental for the whole business. Preparedness is the primary defense that dictates what a company looks like after a disastrous situations subsides. Backup and recovery is one vital step in securing your data and being prepared for a disaster. It is an integral part of the various strategies and procedures utilized to protect your database against data loss of any kind.

Why is backup and recovery so important?

Consider the following statistics:

For a small to mid-sized business, these statistics might seem surprising, especially since natural disasters only make up 5% of the events that knock them out of commission. If your company is only prepared for an act-of-nature disaster scenario, then you might want to keep reading.

What defines a “disaster”?

When you hear ‘disaster’ most people automatically jump to the scariest, most jarring circumstance they can think of and most of them have to do with natural disasters: fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and flooding. But, not all disasters are due to hellish weather conditions and Mother Nature can’t be blamed for every issue. Sometimes things break. And, sometimes, the things that break are really, really important.

When new databases and applications are created and put online, everything is fresh and (hopefully) running as planned. But, that changes over time because technological environments are constantly shifting and evolving. Systems eventually wear down—hardware fails, processes fail, someone spills coffee on something vital. Research shows that 55% of disaster-related downtime actually stems from hardware failure, 22% from human error and 18% from software failure.

As our technology becomes more and more mobile, another disastrous situation becoming more prevalent is the loss of critical cellular and mobile equipment. This becomes an issue if certain data on the device isn’t secure or properly backed up. Unsecured mobile devices that land in the wrong hands can be used to harm a company in many different ways. According to a Harris Interactive Poll, 30% of computer users have never baked up their data.

What is backup and recovery?

A backup is essentially a safeguard against unexpected data loss or application errors, the restoration of backed up files or changes made to the database after the backup was implemented. If you lose your original data, you can use the backup to make it available to you again. But it only works if you actually practice backing up your data.

Backups can be physical or logical, but most are physical or based in the cloud.

  • Physical onsite (also called tape or disk) backups are backups of the physical files used in storing and recovering your database—data files, control files and archived logs— stored offline on a disk, usb, or other type of external storage device. Typically, the organization has 5 separate disks or usb drives, one for each day of the week that are rotated daily and taken offsite at the end of the day.
  • Cloud or offsite backup eliminates the risk of human error – the possibility of forgetting to remove that day’s disk and place at another location at the end of the day. Instead, files etc. are backed up to a datacenter in the cloud.

Again, most backups refer to physical backup, but businesses should keep them both in mind. Backup and recovery plans are part of planning for those inevitabilities.

What types of data should I back up?

Well, that is essentially up to you. The importance you place on a particular type of data can go a long way in helping you to decide if you need to back it up and how often. For example: a database is pretty important, no matter what your organization— you’ll most likely want redundant backup sets, those that reach backward, for several backup periods. Less important data like daily user files don’t need such an elaborate backup plan, but you’ll still need to backup the data regularly to ensure that it can be recovered more easily.

Can a backup and recovery restore ALL of my system’s data?

The short answer is, ‘no.’ Data backup cannot always restore all of a system’s data and/or settings. Computer clusters, active directory servers and database servers may need other forms of disaster recovery in addition to backup and recovery methods. Cloud services are a great go-to alternative and a lot (A LOT) of data can be backed up depending on your cloud storage options—which means archiving on a local system’s hard drive or using external storage is just not necessary. Mobile phones and tablets are a good example of this, albeit, on a small scale, but they can be set up using cloud storage technology. This allows their data to be recovered automatically.

Centrality has your back

Centrality’s data backup solutions provide data retention and archive data restoration. We can design and customize a backup and disaster recovery plan for your business or complement your current plan. Contact us today to learn more about how our backup and recovery solutions are designed to fit your business needs.
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