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Storage and Backup

Choosing The Right Storage And Backup For Your Network

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Many small businesses do not have the type of backup that they need to prevent catastrophic business failure should they lose their data to unforeseen hardware failures, hacking, viruses or malware. Part of this complacency could be due to the thought that data loss will never happen to them or perhaps the confusion of the various storage options.

This article will focus on the six common storage strategies and show how they can be used to be an effective storage strategy for a small business and even a home network user.

Six Storage Stratagies

  1. Direct Attached Storage, (DAS) is a connection between the storage device and the computer or server itself. This is usually through a USB 2.0 or 3.0 port. Though the transfer of data is rather quick, this means that you have to perform batch backups to copy the data and this could result in some files being out of date.
  2. Network Attached Storage, (NAS) is a storage device that connects to your network. It has many of the features of a file server and will accept multiple storage drives. Frequently, redundancy is offered, often in the form of RAID. Most NAS support various file protocols to work with desktops and laptops. Some NAS can synchronize selected volumes or folders with another NAS that supports this capability.
  3. Disaster Protection Storage is a disaster protection storage that can take the form of either a DAS or NAS. It is hardened against the types of disasters that can destroy unprotected data. Some devices can withstand extreme heat for an extended period of time or total immersion in water for days.
  4. Online Cloud Storage comes in two flavors. One service targets specifically the business user while the other, though can be used by businesses, usually target the consumer, or home network user. Both services are typically known as Cloud Services. Cloud storage can work very well if backing up data incrementally. The only real downside is that data retrieval may take a long time should a full data recovery be necessary.
  5. Private Cloud Storage is for those who are not comfortable with their data in the possession of third-party public cloud vendors. In this case, some companies have built their own private version of cloud services to ensure their data is safe and to inherent some of the benefits of flexibility. Once this was out of reach for small businesses, but newer innovations now provide small businesses to achieve their goal of their own private cloud storage.
  6. Offline Media Storage is more commonly known as tape drives as well as DVD and Blu-Ray discs. Though deemed outdated by today’s standards, don’t readlily dismiss these storage options. There have been more than one large company who saved their data after a catastrophic outage because of this type of backup.

Data Backup Best Practices

Backing up your data is only half the battle. If you only have one set up backups, there still is a possibility of data loss if something should happen with this only backup.

The Best Practice of data backup is the 2 + 1 rule; that is, there should be two full backups maintained on separate physical devices and then a third backup that is kept off site at another location.

Backup Types: Full, Incremental, Differential

There are three main backup types, the Full, the Incremental and the Differential. Each comes with its own pros and cons. Regardless of which backup method you decide, remember that having no backup should not be an option when it comes to data recovery.

Full Backup

Full Backups back up all the files and folders. Anything and everything will be backed up, and backed up entirely. In most cases full backups are performed as the initial backup then followed by either an incremental or differential backup.

Full backups are usually performed on a weekly basis, not including the exception such as a major update, OS upgrade or new software installs. Allowing long intervals between backups is strongly not recommended. Should a system crash occur and a recovery needed, there is a possibility of a large data loss.

Pros & Cons of a Full Backup

  • PRO: Fast and easy recovery as complete data is readily available.
  • PRO: Files and folders are backed up to one backup set.
  • PRO: Easy version control.
  • CON: More storage space is needed.
  • CON: Additional bandwidth required.
  • CON: Time-consuming if full backup is run all the time,

Incrimental Backup

Incremental Backups back up all files that have changed since the last backup was conducted, regardless the backup was full or incremental. As an example, a full backup was made on Friday night, then an incremental backup may be performed on Monday night to back up files that have changed since Friday night. Another incremental backup is made on Tuesday night; this backs up files that have changed since Monday night. The purpose of incremental backups is to shorten the time interval between backups and requiring less data to be backed up.

Pros & Cons of an Incremental Backup

  • PRO: Fast backup windows, as there is less data as compared to full backups.
  • PRO: Less storage space (disk, tape, or network drive) needed.
  • PRO: Allow retention of several versions of same files.
  • CON: Slower recovery, as all increments must be restored.
  • CON: Initial full backup is needed before incremental backups start.
  • CON: A full backup and all incremental backups are needed for recovery.
  • CON: Takes longer to restore a specific file, as you need to search more than one backup set.
  • CON: If one of the backups fails (either the full or incremental), then recovery will be incomplete.

Differential Backup

Differential Backups backup files that have been changed since the last full backup. For example, if a full backup is performed on Friday night, then on Monday night a differential backup will back up all the files that have changed since Friday night. On Tuesday night a differential backup will back up all files that changed on Monday and Tuesday and then on Wednesday night a differential backup will back up all files that changed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and so on. Putting it another way, differential backups are considered cumulative incremental backups.

Pros & Cons of a Differential Backup

  • PRO: Less storage space (disk, tape, or network drive) needed as compared to incremental.
  • PRO: Only full backup and the last differential backup needed for restore.
  • PRO: Allow retention of several versions of same files.
  • CON: Slower backups than incremental backups.
  • CON: Initial full backup is needed before differential backups start.
  • CON: A full backup and all differential backups are needed for recovery.
  • CON: If one of the backups fails (either the full or differential), then recovery will be incomplete.
  • CON: Takes longer to restore a specific file, as you need to locate the file on differential or full backup sets.