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6 parameters to help you choose adequate backup …

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

… even if your application is cloud-based, you still need to revisit your backup and disaster recovery strategies.

The breadth and frequency of data generation in the past 5 years have grown exponentially among organizations of all sizes. Because most businesses are migrating to digitization and/or are developing applications and software that is cloud-hosted, the amount of data being exchanged and stored has also grown to a point where data-dependent organizations no longer have the luxury of refraining from backing up their data. According to an annual survey done by Acronis, a leading data backup solutions provider, 86% of sustainable businesses backup their data weekly or monthly. While the figure seems healthy, another study shared by sherweb.com claims that <10% of businesses backup their data daily, which in today’s rapid data transactions environment could be risky.


Backup types 101:

The question “How much data should I backup” usually pops into any disaster-conscious professional. For that we have compiled the types of backup strategies that most organizations adopt today, the need for each type will depend on the need of the organization and the kind of data it is backing up. For example, backing up your employees’ recruitment and payroll data might not be sensitive to you as an organization as customer data for example.



Backup Type

Mechanism

Frequency

Full Backup

Backs up all the data in your system including files, folders, and system state information.

Daily, weekly, or monthly

Incremental

Backup only of the data that has changed. copies the changed instances only.

Usually done at a higher frequency, either daily or on hourly basis

Differential

​Copies all the changed data since the last full backup. Only backs up the differences between the current state of the data and the state of the data in the last full backup.

Depends on size of data and the Restore Point Objective (RPO) .. Usually done with less frequency than incremental backup.

Mirror Backup

​This type of backup creates an exact duplicate of the data as it is changed or created. Often used by organizations with business-critical data where it must be copied and always protected.

Real-time

Now that you know the backup types you can mix and match between what gets backed up and when, according to the criticality of the data and the frequency of its generation. As mentioned in the previous example, your employees’ payroll data could be backed up monthly, as opposed to accounting that could be safe with a weekly backup. If you are selling online subscriptions with a high traffic of users, a daily backup of your customers’ data could be more adequate for the safety of such data.


Do I need to decide on a backup destination first?


Indeed. While some cloud providers offer backup plans for your data, it is often not the case, so make sure you speak with your cloud providers’ representative or read the terms and conditions for disaster recovery plans offered by your cloud provider be it Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Services or Amazon’s AWS.

Historically, professionals backed up their data on-premises using Tape backup, which was still common until the last decade and some organizations still use it to date, for how inexpensive it is. A more developed version of tape disks appeared with the commercialization of hard drives and the costs that have gone lower over the years and variations of them have been widely available, namely Network-Attached Storage (NAS) that resided in an organization’s datacenter. The backup speeds of disks are higher than those of tape drives, but they are also more expensive.


Cloud backups have been trending recently, especially with the rising costs of securing your backups, it was more efficient for companies to backup their sensitive data on a cloud service that is already secured by the provider instead of bearing the costs of both the disks and the security solutions.

Finally, there is no one-size that fits all, most large organizations refer to a hybrid backup model where they choose a combination of backup destinations for the different types of data. When backing up your data, it's important to choose a backup method that meets your needs, both in terms of data protection and cost. Additionally, it's important to implement a backup schedule that is consistent and frequent enough to ensure that your data is protected. To ensure the integrity of your backup data, it's also a good idea to regularly test your backup and restore process to make sure that you can restore your data in case of a disaster.



Backup destination

Hosting environment

Cost

Reliability

Tape-drive

On-premises

Lowest

Very high

Disk backup

​On-premises

High

High

Cloud backup

​Cloud-based/

On-prem (private cloud)

​Low

High

Hybrid backup

Both

Varies

Varies

… But my data is already cloud-hosted, I do not need backup!


Again, this is a misconception. As mentioned earlier, having your data cloud-hosted doesn’t mean there is a guaranteed restore point in case your data gets lost or damaged. Google Workplace for example offers users a fully cloud-based experience, but if someone deletes a file from Google Drive, nothing guarantees a method to restore such a file. Same goes for Salesforce platform and Microsoft’s M365. Cloud-based is one thing, Cloud backup complements the protection of it.


But the good news is that you can still backup your cloud-hosted environments and files with Cloud-2-Cloud backup. Where you securely take a copy of your data on one cloud provider and keep it safe on another cloud provider’s environment (Say from M365 to Amazon AWS for example). Some providers like Acronis offer competitive Cloud-2-Cloud backup solutions that protects your data from loss or damage.

It is more secure, too, to use a supplementary Direct-2-Cloud backup solution that backs up your device’s data beyond those cloud-hosted files and applications. Reason being the way we are all working today. We are internet-dependent to a large extent but offline file creation and sharing is still popular and resource-intensive files and data is yet to be fully cloud-based.


Direct-2-cloud backup solutions are client-based and can help your end users decide what folders they want to sync and what to keep out of reach depending on how important the data is to them.


Do I absolutely need a cloud backup solution?


That depends on your needs. The short answer is that cloud-based backup solutions are often much safer than on-premises ones. Even if your physical security is second to none, hardware failure accounts for 45% of all backup failures which means that you will need to keep your hardware constantly in check with additional costs, as opposed to just renting it for a monthly fee and have this taken care of. Even 75% of IT professionals with a robust backup solution in place in place claim that they were unable to restore all the information properly and 1/3rd of them claimed to have failed to restore it altogether. Therefore, backups should be tested and audited at least once a month.


So how do you choose the best-fitting backup solution for your organization?


Honestly, there is no straight answer, a conversation with one of MHE’s engineers can really speed up the shortlisting and selection process, but if you prefer to do the exercise on your own here are the key aspects to look at:


  1. Data protection and reliability: Not easily tested, especially with complex data structures, but you can check the reviews and ask someone you know who has tested a certain solution before deploying it.

  2. Ease of use: Most backup providers give you free demos on their environments’ interfaces so you can check for yourself how intuitive and user-friendly they are.

  3. Cost: While purchasing a full system and managing it in-house can be costly, cloud-based solutions are more affordable and cater for a larger audience of organizations. You can save further by choosing a Managed Backup service with a Managed Service Provider, if you adopt a backup service within a larger managed services solution, you will be getting a lot of value and your data will be among a more conclusive protection plan

  4. Scalability: In this part, cloud, and managed services are the most flexible in terms of scaling up or down as you wish. If you choose to go on-premises and fully owned and managed, your costs might increase significantly especially with scaling up.

  5. Integration: Most backup solutions today offer easy integrations with your current systems and infrastructure, it is only in minor cases that you could face issues with storage types and restore mechanisms.

  6. Data recovery: Recovering the data is one story, recovering the data ACCURATELY is where some systems fail to really deliver. For that some vendors offer Disaster Recovery solutions separately. MHE also offer Disaster Recovery as a service DRaaS as part of its Managed Services portfolio.





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