On Backup: Remember what’s really important-it’s not how much or how often, but how fast you can restore

Posted by R1Soft on Oct 1, 2012 3:00:00 PM

In speaking to people about backup solutions, it’s clear that many people fixate on how much capacity they have. Is it enough capacity? How redundant is it? How long before they need more?

They also focus on how often information is backed up. Is it continuous? Is it once a day or twice a day? Is it at night, early morning, or afternoon?

To me these are all rookie mistakes.

Anyone who has had the unpleasant experience of losing data wants to know one thing about their backup: How fast can we get this back up and running? Unfortunately, until you actually experience the trauma of needing to restore your backup you may not realize the importance of fast restore.

In terms of backup capacity, anything more than you are actually using is really just wasted capacity anyway. What data you back up, as well as how it is stored and compressed, can have a large influence how much capacity you use.  Best practice is to determine exactly what your needs are before buying too much spare backup capacity (assuming you are buying backup by capacity).  Excess backup capacity is like paying taxes—no one wants to pay for more than they absolutely need.

When it comes to frequency of backup, you should again be wary of overkill. Yes, you should backup regularly. Some data might even need continuous backup. Other data and settings maybe not. Many backup solutions give you a lot of control over exactly what you back up and how often, and it’s a good idea to fine-tune these settings. Even though the tendency is to backup everything and backup often, you should take the time to speak to someone who is experienced in backup strategy to make sure you are not over-scoping your needs.

At the end of the day both capacity and frequency in the real world can take a back seat to how fast you can restore your lost data and application settings.  Every minute your organization is down is money lost.  Not investigating and understanding exactly how long it will take you to restore from backup could wind up being the costliest mistake you can make in choosing a backup solution.

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