File Backup vs. Image Backup – Which is Best?

How do you backup your company data?

While you’re probably aware that a consistent backup schedule is the best plan for your data in your disaster recovery, you may not realize that you have options in how that backup is performed.

File Backup

One option is a file/folder-based backup.  In this type of setup, the smallest unit that you would be able to restore is a file or folder.  The typical use for such a system is to restore a file or folder that has been lost on an otherwise healthy system.  This is a “selective” backup, where the business chooses what data should be backed up, and only those files and folders are backed up.  The total backup is much smaller in size, with less capacity needed and a lower overall cost.  However, should a disaster occur, the restoration of data can take much, much longer than anticipated.  With a file/folder backup, you must start from scratch to restore your system to working order – installing the operating system, all the software applications, the software used to back up the files and folders, and then finally the files and folders themselves.  Only the files and folders selected for backup are restored; any others lost in a data disaster are simply that – lost.

Image Backup

Another –more complete and recommended – option is an image-based backup.  Image-based backups are full hard drive images, consisting of the block by block contents of a hard drive.  In the event of a data disaster, a business’ entire data set is preserved, allowing for a move to new hardware and a swift restore of all information.  While this approach requires a larger capacity for storage and the use of bandwidth to move these larger files to the cloud, not to mention a greater expense, it also provides the most complete backup and the fastest restore.

Image-based backups are by far the superior choice for complete and swift recovery of data, and are the backups that Lieberman Technologies recommends.

When considering what type of backup to use for your business, don’t let cost dictate your decision.  Other factors, such as depth and breadth of data, as well as length of downtime should a disaster occur, also need to enter into the equation.   If you have a tiny, selected amount of data you want to preserve, and don’t mind waiting a full day or more to restore your system to operating capacity, then it’s perfectly fine to consider file/folder backup.  But if you feel that your computer system and its data are far too important to your company to have to wait more than a day to get back in business, then image-based backup is well worth the increased investment.