Introduction

In this final article on BDR (Backup Disaster Recovery) planning we look at the ultimate protection for your business.

In part one I introduced you to disaster recovery planning documents and how they can assist you in making decisions while you are not in “emergency mode”.  Part two helped you to identify the data that your business really needs to protect. The penultimate article on backup options compared the advantages and disadvantages associated with onsite and offsite backups.

In this final article about backup disaster recovery I will introduce the concept of hybrid backups and also look at the cost of implementing this in your business.

Hybrid Backups

Part 3 looked at the advantages and disadvantages of onsite and offsite backups. For onsite backups there is a  faster recovery time but they are vulnerable to encryption by hackers and loss of data if drive rotation does not occur.

Offsite or cloud backups don’t need one of your staff to rotate and take offsite your backup drives and can be resilient to hackers attempts to encrypt data but recovery can be slower due to download speeds.

With a hybrid backup you get the best of both options.  Backups are normally taken at night (assuming this is your quiet time) and sent offsite to cloud storage.  The same backup is also then copied to your local backup media so you have a copy onsite and offsite.

Since the cloud backup is protecting your business from all threats there is no longer a requirement to rotate your onsite backup drives and so we find a NAS (network attached storage) works well.

Reducing Cloud Storage Costs

By utilising both models you also have an additional way to reduce cloud storage cost.  Generally, the cost of cloud storage is very cheap but when you start to utilise terabytes of space the costs can mount up.

By storing 30 days of data in the cloud this will protect you from most types of data loss whilst keeping the cost sensible.  You can, however store much more data on your local backup media allowing you to recover documents from 6 months, a year or longer if you wish. The bigger the onsite storage media the more copies of that data you will be able to keep.

The main consideration is balancing cost with an effective and fast recovery.

What is the Fastest Way to Recover?

Part 3 discussed the relative speeds of recovery and suggested that recovery from local backup media was quicker than downloading from cloud backup storage.  There is however another option which is particularly suitable for servers and will allow ultra-rapid recovery.  It is a method is often referred to as cloud disaster recovery or cloud DR.

Essentially your cloud backup is mounted as a virtual machine in the cloud and this allows your “server” to be replaced within seconds.  In order to maximise the speed of recovery there is some planning and preparation that needs to occur in terms of adding DNS addresses.  This means in the case of your local server not being available all local machines are able to instantly find the cloud version.

The cost of this option tends to be more expensive as resources have to be reserved and setup in advance but if your business is likely to loose thousands of pounds for every hour of downtime then this is a perfect system to give you peace of mind.

How do I know if the backup worked?

Unfortunately nothing is perfect and there are occasions that backups do not work properly.  There are numerous reasons for this but some of the most common ones include: running out of time, running out of space, failure of local or Internet connection, errors in local services (VSS also known as Volume Shadow Copy Service) and other services particularly after updates.

The worst case I have come across is a company we took over the backups of.  The customer had been diligently rotating their onsite backup media every weekday but the service had not been running for 18 months.  Nobody had bothered to check if the backup was actually working and nobody had bothered to setup up the alerting system that would have let them know of this issue.  Had the business needed to recover they would have lost the last 18 months of data, a complete catastrophe.

We always send out a daily email to the client which informs them whether the backup has succeeded or not.  However, this by itself is not enough.  One of the first daily tasks for our technicians is to check every backup for every client to ensure it completed successfully.  If there is an error they will investigate why and obviously repair to ensure backups are completely up to date.  Our philosophy is very simple, backups are of no use unless they actually happen.

Should I test my Backup?

In answer to the question “Should I test my backup” the simple answer is – Absolutely!

You can use the most expensive system in the World but if it doesn’t recover your precious data at the moment you need it then it isn’t worth a penny.  Corruption of data does occur.  Admittedly this is much less frequent now compared to the days of tape streamers.  However, if your business is dependant on a backup wouldn’t you sleep better at night knowing that it just works.

It is for this reason that we insist on downloading and mounting the backup of every single server on a 6 monthly basis.  I have been told by customers that getting that email to say a complete restore has been tested and all is working OK allows them to no longer worry about their business data.  As part of this process we also test the time to recover and include this in the email.  It allows you to see the likely recovery time in the worst case and to plan other alternatives such as Cloud DR if this time is too long.

How much does it cost to backup?

Backup costs are made up of three parts.  The first is predictable, it is the cost of the licence for the software to perform the backup.  The second is somewhat predictable and is the cost of the technical time necessary to do the daily checks and repairs together with the 6 monthly testing schedule for servers.

However, the final part of the cost is quite unpredictable and is the storage space required.  If you looked at the amount of data on your server, workstation or laptop hard drive you would think that is the amount of cloud storage space you would require.  I wish it was that simple.  One part of the backup process is compression which reduces the amount of cloud storage space you require but the compression ratio depends on the type of data.  Pictures and videos often do not compress a great deal but Word and Excel files compress a lot.

Even once this compression is taken into account the actual space required depends on how much new data you produce on a daily basis and how long you want to retain previous versions.  Obviously the more new data there is and the longer you want to retain the data the more space this will take.

However, I have included some general guide prices below.  They will vary due to all of the reasons above but it should give you a basic idea of how much this sort of backup will cost.

If you decide that you would like to try this service we will set it up and run it for free for the first month.  This will allow us to get a more accurate price for your specific requirements and if at the end of the first month you decide you do not want to proceed we cancel it and remove all of your data from the cloud storage.  Simple!

Note prices exclude VAT and as described above they are indicative only.

  Workstation Server
Up to 500Gb £39.00 X
500Gb – 1Tb £66.00 X
1Tb – 2 Tb £115.00 £159.00
2Tb – 4Tb X £289.00
4Tb – 8Tb X £543.00

 

 

Was this a useful document?

Over the last 4 articles I have tried to give a simplified and honest account of that mysterious process called “backup” or “backup disaster recovery”.  This is a vast topic with masses of technicality that I know many business owners are not that interested in.  So I hope the information shared is relevant and useful without being overwhelmingly complex.  However, I guarantee you will have questions that I have not yet thought of.  Please share them with me so I can add them and the answers to this document and ensure business owners have a single useful place to go for honest technical advice.

How can I get help

A good IT support company will be able to assist you with planning for a disaster.  If you would like us to check through your IT disaster planning document we have engineers available.

 

What next?

If your business would like to talk about planning for disasters or secure data storage then fill out our contact form, phone us or click on the appointment button below and lets start a conversation to see if we are able to help you and your business.

Our guarantee:

  • There are no hidden charges – this is a 100% free 15 minute consultation with no hidden charges.
  • We will never spam you or sell on your contact details.
  • We will treat your information with absolute confidentiality.

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