Backups: How Many Do You Need?

It’s not a new story and one you would have heard many times before. We just cannot stop creating new data. Data growth along with diversification of storage methods is not helping either. The volume of data we store is doubling every two to three years. It would appear also that the number of different methods of protecting data also increases ever year.

stack of disk[1]So just how many methods do you use to protect your data? And how many backups are these creating? Don’t worry there’s a strong argument for using multiple methods for backup, as seldom are these methods equal. I’ll use my laptop as an example. I can scan the menu bar at the top of my Mac and can see three different backup applications. Syncplicity, Avamar and TimeMachine. Surly you don’t use all three I hear you ask, well yes I do and on a daily basis. Let me explain why all three are used and perhaps you will then understand why backup apps are not all the same.

Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) play an important role when selecting data protection methods. My Avamar backup runs once a day. It allows EMC to have an up to date copy of all the data on my laptop. It does however only run when I’m logged into the corporate LAN either at my desk or via VPN. So looking at the RPO it could be over 24 hours if I’m remotely working and not connected by VPN. This leaves a large gap when new data will not be protected. That being said however for EMC this is a great way to protect my entire laptop, storing all my (their) data on the corporate LAN. Protection of intellectual property on laptops is typically very difficult, due to the fact that most data is stored locally and not on file shares. So the RPO may be long, but the RTO will be very short due to the fact that my entire laptop could be recovered from a single location, at the click of a button.

To improve the RPO I also use Syncplicity. Better known perhaps for its file sharing abilities than data protection. Syncplicity provides the shortest RPO. Continually scanning my selected area (Documents) for any new files or changes. As long as I am connected to the Internet any new file that I create is automatically replicated in the EMC Syncplicity cloud. While this does not allow for a system rebuild it does allow me to ensure I protect all of my new data during my working day. It also offers the added advantage that if I create a document on my laptop it will be visible on my other mobile devices to edit or display instantly.

Finally I still have not gotten out of the habit of running my own backups. TimeMachine on my Mac offers a local, complete system image of my hard drive. If this drive became corrupt I could use the TimeMachine image to boot and repair the disk. Although Avamar offers the same service, the TimeMachine image is usually local to my Mac as it sits on a USB drive. In the event of a system rebuild the RTO would be much quicker than pushing data over a VPN or even a LAN. The downside is that the retention of my data will be shorter than Avamar as I’m restricted to a physical limit on the capacity of my USB drive.

So there you have it, three different methods for protecting my laptop data. All carrying out the job they were designed to do, all offering different advantages.

So my question to you as you read this blog… your laptop data protected? And please check out further information on Avamar or Syncplicity.

About the Author: Mark Galpin