Five Questions to Ask About Backups and Restores

Backing up computer files, with the ability to restore them in the event of a data failure, is among the most important protocols in business today. But not all backup and restore plans meet the needs of businesses today. Take a moment to ask yourself these questions about YOUR plan.

1. Is your compression rate adequate?

Compression allows you to store more data in less space, and yet many backup plans don’t have adequate compression rates. The sheer volume of space taken up by data backups can potentially be an issue in and of itself. Each passing year brings better algorithms for compression, which means more data backed up in less space. Examining your compression rate on a regular basis can help you to plan for future storage requirements.

2. Do you have a backup window?

The concept of a backup window is a relic from the early days of computing, when the day’s work was backed up at a certain point each day. While that may have been good practice once upon a time, nowadays backing up data is a critical process that shouldn’t rely on specific time frames. Consider what would happen if a large chunk of your daily data were to be lost prior to a backup. Current best practice is to back up data as it’s written. If you’re not doing that, maybe you should be.

3. Do you utilize deduplication?

Duplication of data can be an issue, if what’s being duplicated is the same data with tiny changes. Multiple versions of a file, each with minor changes, can seriously impact the volume of your data storage. Using deduplication, however, can reduce the size of your backup by eliminating multiple versions of the same data. Deduplication algorithms detect duplicate data chunks and only replace the portions of data that are different.

4. How does your backup affect your server?

Backup windows came into use because of the time and resources they required – user access to systems could be slowed or locked out during the backup process, which is why backup windows typically fell during the overnight hours. New backup processes, however, capture blocks of data throughout the day, without too much effect on server performance.

5. How extensive is your backup library?

Archiving your backups – how much you keep, for how long, and when to release server space for overwriting – can be a thorny issue. Industry regulations can further complicate this time frame, depending on the industry you’re in. However, if you are utilizing compression and deduplication, along with second- and third-level storage, you have the ability to stay within regulations and yet not impact your current hardware configuration.

Backups are great, but what about restoring files? Restoring files from backup is the other side of this equation. Stay tuned for Part Two for questions you should consider for your backup and restore activities.