Note: This is a guest post contributed by StoragePipe.com.
When we think of data protection, most people just imagine themselves copying their computer over to another device on a regular basis… so that it can be copied back in an emergency. Of course, it’s not that simple.
There are many different challenges that make data protection difficult, and many different recovery scenarios need to be accounted-for:
- How would you react if you accidentally backed up a virus?
- What do you do if an employee accidentally deletes a file or saves over an important document?
- How fast can you get back up if your system goes down during business hours?
- What do you do if you have more data than you can reasonably back up?
These are just a few of the many data protection scenarios that you need to prepare for. In order properly defend yourself, you need a solution that is simple, modular and capable of handling a wide range of challenges.
The methodology I prefer involves 3 different backup processes which complement each other very well.
When you first set up your computer, you’ll want to install all of the applications you need and create a recovery image for this machine. This will come in handy if you ever need to perform a bare metal restore.
Restoring your system from a disk image, with all of your favourite applications pre-installed, can save you many hours when re-building your machine from scratch.
You’ll want to keep 2 copies of this system image. One copy should be kept on-site, and the other should be taken to a remote location for safety.
Of course, when it comes time to recover, this disk image will already be several months old. Also, it will only contain applications…. not data.
What you truly care about the most is your irreplaceable data. All of those pictures, Word documents, and Photoshop files are very important and valuable to you. At the very least, you’ll want to back these up on a daily basis.
Also, you’ll want to maintain several historically versioned copies of all your data backups. This way, you can still recover your files if you accidentally back up a corrupted version. I recommend keeping about 30 days of historical backups… just to be safe.
And just like your system image, you should keep 2 copies of each backup… one off-site, and one close-at-hand.
As you keep using your machine, you will accumulate a lot of junk that can quickly fill up your hard drive. Although you may not need any of this data right now, you might require access at a later date. This type of clutter can cause your backups to take much longer, and greatly extend recovery times.
In order to optimize your backup process and improve the performance of your machine, you’ll want to periodically clean up your hard drive and send inactive files off to an archival storage device. For this kind of long-term storage, I’d recommend a stable & crash-resistant media such as online storage or backup tape. (External hard drives have too many unstable moving parts)
A good policy is to archive any files that have not been accessed within the past 6 months. This should be enough to clear 60-80% of the space on your hard drive, and also improve backup & recovery times by 60-80%.
If you ever need these files again later on, retrieving them from the archives should be a simple matter.
If your computer were ever to suddenly crash, you would first load up your system image to restore your machine and applications to their previous state, then you would load up your most recent backups. If you need any additional data that wasn’t included in the backups, you
can selectively grab only the files you need from the archives without having to load the rest.
Now you see how much easier backup and recovery can be when you’re organized. And with this approach, you’ll also be prepared for a number of other unexpected data loss scenarios.
About The Author: Storagepipe offers online backup services that are designed to simplify backups, and speed up recovery.