Data Backup: Can you Recover your Data after a Disaster?

As data is becoming more critical to businesses, not being able to recover a critical file or database could lead to significant financial losses and have a long lasting damaging impact on the company’s reputation. As a direct result of this the data backup market has become more competitive with every data backup provider claiming that they can successfully backup your data on a daily basis and recover it in the event of a disaster.

There are data backup solutions that only backup data locally with the additional option to replicate the data offsite. Other solutions’ primary objective is to get your data offsite into the cloud and have an additional option of keeping local copies for faster restores. Depending on the solution that is utilised, the chance of being able to restore data depends on how robust the solution is and the functionalities of it.

By only keeping a copy of data onsite, the data is put at a much greater risk of being destroyed if a disaster is suffered. What happens if there is a flood or fire at the office and all servers and backup media are destroyed? The data is lost and no-one will be able to recover it. If someone is only keeping an onsite copy of their backups, they should ask themselves what impact this would have on their business financially and company reputation?

If the extra step is taken of paying a company to take copies of backup media offsite on a daily basis or to replicate the onsite backup to a remote site or to the cloud, then the chances of being able to recover that data in the event of a disaster are significantly better. However, there are still potential risks that can result in the data not being recoverable. Backup media such as tapes can be lost during transportation or the backup itself may have been unsuccessful rendering the contents of the media incomplete and unreliable. Also, if data is replicated offsite as an after thought, it is not always easy to know for sure that all the data has been fully replicated offsite. One can then find themselves in a situation where their only reliable backup is that which is onsite. Again, this could lead to significant financial implications and damage to company reputation in the event of a disaster.

Ideally, an incremental forever cloud backup solution should be utilised which has the primary target of getting your data offsite in a secure fashion. By having the ability to back up the incremental changes on a nightly basis after the initial seed, history of critical data can be efficiently accumulated without sending full copies of the entire data set each night. It then comes down to the configuration of the software such as retention and the quality of the system infrastructure that your data is being kept on. This gives you the ability to restore older none corrupt versions of files and restore data even though it had been initially deleted from the main production server. Some backup software gives the provider the ability to conduct bare metal restores so if there was a total disaster at your office, the data could be recovered onto new hardware whilst keeping the same configuration of the old damaged servers.

In the worst instance where all servers are damaged in a disaster it will take time to purchase new hardware and get all of the data recovered. To further minimise downtime the need to purchase new hardware can be eliminated by utilising a Virtual Disaster Recovery solution. Data can be recovered into a virtual environment hosted in the cloud in which users can login and continue work as normal. This solution works even in the worst case scenarios where company office buildings cannot be accessed. However, when utilising such a solution it is vital that regular tests are conducted and a plan of action is put in place so as the ensure Recovery Time Objectives and Recovery Point Objectives are met.

The chances of being able to restore data in the event of a disaster depends on how robust the backup solution is. There are many companies who can back up data, but in the event of a disaster, are you confident that you will be able to recover? Ensuring that you have a data backup solution in place that enables you to recover all of your data successfully and quickly in the event of a disaster of any kind is vital as it will be all too late to think about the consequences afterwards.

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