Data Backup - Which is the Better Way?

by : Lee Morrell

Before we investigate which data backup method is a best fit for your business, we need to evaluate why and what you expect from your backup solution.

Obviously, we backup our data so we can continue trading after a disaster, but what type of disaster are you protecting yourself from and how quickly does your system need to be back online? Please think about this before you think of the usual stock answer, "I am protecting myself from all disasters and I want to be back online as soon as possible" easy to do if you have ?500,000 budget and many man hours to devote to the task of backup. You need to be realistic about your backup and restore plan. Are you planning to recover from a hardware failure, total server failure, fire flood or any malicious event? Remember, the rule, the bigger the disaster you plan for, the bigger budget you will need.

Let's look at the business backup options;

Tape Backup - Is a solution which has been around for many years, recent technology means backup and restore is becoming faster and faster. The main benefit of tape based backup is the speed in which you can restore, tape solutions are now capable of moving data at rates of up to 80MB per second. The down side is the initial cost, a high end tape backup device will cost from ?4,000 and can work their way up to hundreds of thousands. The software to control the backup starts at around ?500 per device to be backed up and can escalate to ?3000 per device. Cost of media, ?30 per tape and usually you will need a minimum of 10 tapes.

Cost aside, the human intervention requirement can be a drain on resource, for example someone will need to ensure a tape is fitted into the backup device and removed offsite after the backup has taken place. Usually most company's leave the tape inside the server overnight, leaving your backup exposed to the same threats as your server.

Disk to Disk Transfer Easily the fastest way to backup and restore and is suitable for high quantities of data which can be transferred between two servers at up to 320MB per second. The speed of this form of backup is usually only slowed down by the network connecting them together. There are two downsides behind this solution, firstly the cost; you will need a second server and this server will need to grow at the same time as your live server. Secondly it is impossible to remove the server to a secure remote or offsite location, again leaving your backup exposed to the same threat as your live server.

Offsite or Online Backup - By far the cheapest method of backup, however until recently your backup and restore process can usually operate only as fast as your internet connection, usually 2MB per second. This form of backup has usually only been suitable for smaller companies with smaller quantities of data. Times have changed, some offsite backup solutions now offer high performance disk to disk backup functionality whilst still securely backing up your data to an offsite location, you might say this offers the best of both worlds, very fast restore using disk to disk functionality but still copying your data offsite ensuring you will always be able to restore regardless of disaster.

One final benefit is zero human intervention; once you have setup you backup schedule the whole process is automated from there on in.