Backup & Recovery Basics

Today, your data is everything. A virus or hacker attack, power outage, computer failure or a natural disaster can prove to be catastrophic.

When you lose your data, the only thing that will be important to you is your ability to restore the data and restore it quickly. It is important for individuals and businesses to understand the importance of backing up their data and implement data backup plans that require little to no human intervention.

With a little preparation, individuals and businesses can rest easy that if catastrophe strikes, they are well prepared to recover and be back up and running in no time at all.

Preparing for a disaster encompasses many things, but there is a core process that all individuals and businesses must engage in to protect their data and that is backing up important information. And, once they have backed up the data they need to be able to easily recover the data.

It is critically important that data backup and recovery solutions are simple to implement, automated and that even the most novice computer user feels comfortable in retrieving data from backups if and when needed.

Next Generation Data Backup

Who should perform data backup?

Everyone that owns a computer(s) needs to perform data backups. Individuals and businesses alike must perform data backups on a continuous basis. No exceptions.

What is backup?

In its simplest form, data backup means copying your files, whether they are photos, documents or music. You perform data backups in preparation for virus or hacker attacks, human error, power outages, and loss of computer system or natural disasters. It is not a matter of if, but when one of these will occur. Backing up your data does not and should not be a complicated task as there are products on the market today that automate this process for you, whether you are an individual or a business.

What types of data do I backup?

Data is stored on your computer as files or images. This could include Microsoft documents, Adobe documents or any number of different application data files. It could be a database file such as financial records, sales orders or customer records. It could also be images such as digital files, like photos, scanned documents or medical imagery. All data should be backed up on a continuous basis and ideally in an automated manner.

Full System Backup

A full system backup protects an entire computer system; data, applications, drivers, settings and your operating system. Rather than attempting to identify which files are important and which are not, every single file is copied. While the cost of hard disk drives as storage media may have been prohibitive in the past, this option is more affordable and ensures that any future applications or data file types are protected.

Differential/incremental and Selective Backup

Incremental and differential backups are similar to one another; both make copies of only the files that have changed since the last time you ran your backup schedule. The main difference between the two is that differential backups do not indicate which files have changed and therefore grow bigger and bigger. Because incremental and differential backups don't copy each and every file on your system, you'll find that they generally take less time to create (and less time to restore).

Selective Backup

With selective backups, you manually select the files you'd like to back up at a given point in time. When using this option, you must first start by making a full back up of your system. You will also need to create a start up disk for your operating system, as this will be needed should you experience a full system crash. The startup disk will allow you to get your system up and running again. You will need to review your PC help section to understand how to complete this step, as creating a disk will vary by OS system. This option is not ideal as it requires that a human consistently set a time on their calendar to perform the backups – manually.

How often should I back up my data?

Preferably, data backups should occur in an automated and continuous manner. This is the simplest and safest way to backup your data. This is known as Continuous Data Protection (CDP) or Continuous Data Backup (CDB) and is similar to how anti-virus software works today; it runs in the background without (or with little) human intervention. The biggest advantage of CDP is that the data is backed up whenever your data is modified in real time, as long as your hard drive is connected to your computer. In effect you are getting a snapshot or electronic transactional stamp of changes that are being made against the data. Therefore if your system becomes infected or corrupted, it is always possible to retrieve the most recent clean copy of your files.

It is particularly recommended that small business owners implement data backup software that has CDP capabilities, as it offers you an “insurance policy” against serious harm to your business from lost files, damaged files or extended downtime.

The other options that are available in backup software today are manual in nature or require backup schedules to be built; meaning that every time you want to back up your data you need to manually perform the task or you must set up schedules for your computer to perform the backups periodically. Neither of these is ideal as they require human intervention to be performed correctly and consistently.