Backing up of databases is a necessary and virtually unavoidable thing to do if you want to run a business today. Statistics show that not so long ago, as few as 25% of business were aware of the possibility of setting up and maintaining a backup platform for storing their databases. Today, in a world where data centres have become very common, and the overall level of network literacy has risen along with the expansion of virtual services and technologies, using backup services provided by data centres are by no means an extraordinary thing, and it is much rather a routine and unavoidable measure that you take.
What is data backup?
Data backup is a set of measures for generating copies of databases to recover them if the original files are lost. Quick recovery of data may be necessary if there is a technical failure, or if someone deliberately tries to destroy data.
Modern companies and even simple users see protecting various data and private information from cyber attacks, human error and system failures as an important task. Being able to recover as quickly as possible reduces the financial and reputation risks caused by the resulting downtime.
When would you need such a procedure?
A backed-up database can be recovered in many situations, including:
- technical failure in the storage medium;
- accidental deletion by a user;
- failures and breakdowns in the hardware, or loss of files directly on the server, where usual methods for recovering data do not work;
- technical emergencies, natural disasters;
- performance of standard administrative tasks, such as transferring data from one server to another, setting up access rights, sorting and archiving data.
Cloud backups (BaaS) are typically performed on the basis of Veeam Backup & Replication. Currently, this is the most practical solution for storing data. The files are moved into the cloud, protecting them against hardware failures, for example. More and more users choose this backup method and location, to make sure that their database is in good hands.
The data are not stored on a specific drive, and instead are distributed over a number of remote servers that reduces the risk of losses. Options for encrypting the data are also turning up, which is very relevant for confidential data. The cloud is becoming another option as a storage facility and a long-term archive.
Advantages of cloud backup
- Automatic mode. The frequency of the updates can be adjusted, to take place once every 24 h, every week, or, most commonly, based on the client’s preferences.
- Economy. Local storage costs more, because of the need to maintain the equipment.
- All the data, including the installed software, the operating system in its current state, settings, services and files can be completely transferred to the computer.
- Selective backup option.
- Easy to manage. The client can handle this without assistance, having received the necessary instructions and access rights.
- High level of security thanks to data encryption (including client-side encryption, before the data are transferred into the cloud) and selective access.
- Local storage compatibility. The data can be synchronised between the local server and the cloud forming a single database.
This model has its pitfalls, too, however.
Disadvantages of the cloud
- The internet service provider. Finding an ISP that you can trust and that has the capacity you need is not an easy task.
- The speed. If the ISP cannot provide broadband internet, recovery can take a long time.
- Breach of contract by the ISP.
As you can see, the crucial element here is choosing a company that you can trust with handling your databases.
Special features of data backup
What should you know when developing a long-term strategy for storing data backups after they are generated?
You can connect a data storage system in a way that is local, virtual or apparently local (with drives that are actually remote).
This is an essential question that determines the choice of your service provider, among other things. The more frequently the backup is saved, the more that is expected of the data centre.
Amount of data.
The choice of storage system directly depends on the size of the database, i.e. the quantity and the size of the files that make it up.
Duration of storage.
This is another matter that should be considered in advance, because it is associated with the fee and the amount of storage space assigned to you as a client.
In order to determine the amount of space that the system needs for data backup, one must choose between the incremental and the differential method.
- The incremental approach makes it possible to only store the changes that distinguish the previous backup copy from the next one.
- The differential approach is based on saving all the files in every copy: both the originals and the modified versions.
Data compression currently cannot make a significant contribution to reducing the storage space used, because it is only effective for a small number of file types (media files cannot be compressed without losing quality).
Should you retrieve data from the copies often?
It depends on the specific needs of the business and the information that should be saved. Different storage media can be used depending on how often the backups are to be generated: disks, tape etc.
Is the integrity of the copies important?
This is about how critical continuous access to the copies is. This is another point that should be discussed in advance, because fault-tolerant RAIDs (i.e. independent additional disks) may be necessary. The cost of storage can rise significantly in this case.
Time to produce and retrieve a backup copy.
Depending on how you answer this question, there are different requirements for the speed of the server, from which the data will be copied, and the load of its disk subsystem.
Must the server be available when saving a backup copy?
The simplest option used if a backup is produced every 24 hours is suspending the operation of the server for the time necessary to save the backup copy. This can be done whenever there is little load, such as at night or during off-hours. If the data backup takes place more frequently, and shutting the server down is highly undesirable, then a snapshot of the file system is taken: it is stopped for a specific moment, and a backup copy is made using the snapshot.
Advanced users can ask themselves and their potential service providers these same questions. A professional provider will inquire about information from the potential client when ordering the service, and will offer the best rate for the capacity, services and additional features.
What services can you get?
The types of services and their modification depend on your service provider. However, the following options are those most commonly offered. Database backups and data recovery using the Veeam platform are popular services today.
- Continuous business operation and security.
- Easy and very quick disaster recovery of files.
- Cloud data backup.
- High level of security.
- Automatic saving infrastructure configured for the user.
- Ability to recover virtual machines in the event of an emergency outside the platform.
The Veeam® Cloud Connect™ platform is safe and fast. The client only pays for the resources the client uses, and you can get a backup from the cloud quicker than ever, at any time. VMware vSphere is another advantage of the system: it is an effective solution for computational and storage resources intended for replicated loads.
There is also demand for database backups based on the package solutions of IBM Spectrum Protect..
- Recovery of data in cloud, virtual, physical, software-defined environments.
- Saving of backup copies within the infrastructure of the data centre, which ensures complete security.
- Access management and platform administration can be set up for replicating multiple platforms.
- Custom solutions and configurations for workstations.
- Setting the time and frequency for saving backup copies depending on the needs and the requirements of the client.
- Saving and transfer of specialised and packaged software.
- Flexible and rapid recovery of data from specific copies.
Like with the first option, the client only pays for the packaged services that the client actually uses. Powerful and scalable software becomes the main advantage.
Who is it for?
The solutions listed are perfect for businesses and are typically used for connecting workstations to business networks. A responsible service provider offers a manual for using the database backup, recovery and archiving services and for configuring the services to the user. If preferred by the client, the specialists can take over this part of the work.
The user and the service work together to develop the most effective strategy and schedule, and estimate how intensive the generation of backups is going to be.
Why should you consult the specialists?
Can you back databases up on your own? You can absolutely implement the simplest measures to secure information, even at your home. The problem is that the amounts of files that must be regularly backed up is growing constantly, even in smaller companies. As a result, you need more and more capacity to store and rescue valuable data. So there are many reasons for why consulting the specialists is a reasonable solution.
Eliminating the risk of financial loss.
Professional help will minimise or completely eliminate the financial risks associated with downtime due to communication problems, cyber attacks and other emergencies.
Ability to use different backup and format options.
The client gets the ability to automatically generate database backups, with cloud, network or local storage. The rates and formats are designed to suit the needs of companies of different specialisations.
The client pays for the database backup amount actually used.
Professional standards of security.
It is hard to provide a multi-level security system, to protect your data, to test for and to eliminate any malicious attacks on your own.
Let us reiterate that choosing the company to store, recover and protect your data is critical. Prefer service providers with transparent rates and data centres they actually own, with modern solutions and hardware. Before signing the contract, make sure you carefully look though feedback by other clients, the rates and the custom offers.