Let me start off by introducing myself and giving you a little back ground info. I’ve been in the presales technical community for nearly 20 years. I’ve helped customer both resellers and end users with everything from licensing to configuration of solutions. The last 8 or 9 years I’ve worked specifically with backup software (Arcserve backup). In that time frame I had all kind of conversations with customers

  • It’s just backup software I’ll worry about it later.
  • I thought I was backing up everything … then I tried to restore.
  • You mean I was supposed to switch tapes?
  • I replicate my data offsite for disaster recovery so I don’t need to back it up…. Right?
  • I’ve been audited and found to not be meeting compliancy … I need something and I need it fast!

I’ve also seen an evolution of backup software from file based to image based backup and features like deduplication and replication. Data explosion and virtualization has thrown a few wrenches in there as well as cloud capabilities. “I’ve moved everything to the cloud… how do I back it up locally now?” is a new request I’ve been getting more frequently.

I figured why not make my first ever blog post about backup strategies and really how to create one that’s right for you as I see it. I will try my best and stay away from terms like RPO and RTO and instead present it out as if it is your first time looking at this.

The first step is really to understand your data.

  • How much data do you have?
  • Do you need to protect all of it?
  • How much does that data change?
  • How long would you like to retain your data?
  • Is your data governed by any type of compliance regulation which requires specific retention of the data for a set time?
  • If you lose data what is the maximum amount of time you can afford to take to restore that data and how far back can you afford to recover from?
  • Do you need to move your data offsite?

Understanding how much data you have and categorizing the importance of that data is the first part of any strategy. When I say importance, I mean if you lose that data how it will impact the business. Understanding your data growth will allow you to correctly size the storage tape or disk that you will need. The last thing you want is to purchase storage that you will quickly outgrow. Compliancy will also effect this as some industries (healthcare & financial are some examples) are required to keep data for multiple years.

Eventually everyone suffers from some type of data loss and your job is how you minimize that loss. How long is an acceptable time frame to recover that data? This should be one of the key things you discuss with any company and understand before you purchase their backup product. Just backing up data onsite often is not enough do to floods, storms, earthquakes, or someone leaving the toaster on. Having multiple copies of your data (disk, tape, offsite) can help protect you if something were to happen. The last and in my opinion the most important step is to have a well-documented plan, people leave, call out sick, or go on vacation. Having a well-documented recovery plan will help assure that you do not get a call while on your honeymoon.

Hopefully I’ve pointed you in the right direction on how to get started with protecting your data.