Backup and Disaster Recovery Guide for IT Leaders
As an IT leader, you know that investing in backup and disaster recovery solutions will protect your organization's critical data. However, you might not know where to start.
This comprehensive backup and disaster recovery guide will explain what you should understand about the topic — including different backup methods, effective recovery strategies, the role of RTO (recovery time objective) and RPO (recovery point objective), data security considerations and beyond.
Backup & Disaster Recovery Fundamentals
Every organization needs a fortified strategy for backup and disaster recovery. With the right backup solutions and disaster recovery planning, you can reduce downtime and prevent data loss in the event of a cybersecurity breach and maintain business continuity.
Main Causes of Data Loss
- Natural disasters — Floods, fires, tornadoes, and other adverse natural events can damage physical equipment like servers and hard drives in your company, resulting in data loss.
- Cyber threats — Hackers can infiltrate your systems and steal your most critical data. Did you know that around 9 million businesses will close within six months of experiencing a cyberattack?
- Ransomware — Cybercriminals can prevent your team from accessing data in systems unless you pay an expensive ransom.
- Accidental deletion — Team members can accidentally or intentionally delete data in your systems.
- Hardware failure — Data loss can occur when hardware overheats, encounters electrical surges, suffers physical damage from being mishandled, or simply reaches end of life.
What is Backup and Disaster Recovery?
Data backup is the process of taking a protected copy of your organization's data, and securely storing this for safe keeping. You can access this copy if you experience data loss after a natural disaster, cyberattack, downtime, or data corruption event. This allows you to recover your lost or corrupted data back to a known good point-in-time, continuing operations with minimal downtime.
Disaster recovery (referred to as DR) means recovering from a disaster event. It involves responding to an unplanned incident by regaining access to lost data, recovering IT systems, and continuing business operations. DR most often requires the need to recover multiple systems, servers and workloads. Having a disaster recovery plan can make these tasks easier, and better prepare your organization for any unforeseen future events.
Backup and Disaster Recovery Terms To Know
- Business Continuity Plan — A plan of action that ensures critical business functions in your organization continue after a disaster event.
- DR Solutions — The software and tools you'll use to restore data after a critical incident.
- DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service) — A cloud-based disaster recovery solution that is offered as a service without organizations needing to purchase their own hardware or maintain a secondary DR site. Replication of your critical data and systems are automated to this secondary off-site location to be used in the event of a disaster.
- HA (High Availability) — A system or service designed to provide uninterrupted access to critical resources, even during a disruption.
- MSP (Managed Service Provider) — A company that provides IT services and technical and advisory support for your business operations.
- Off-site Storage — A data location that is physically separate from your primary location of the data or system you back up. Examples include localized tape backups, multi-cloud storage, and third-party data centers.
- RPO (Recovery Point Objective) — The maximum amount of data you can lose before disruption becomes unacceptable.
- RTO (Recovery Time Objective) — The maximum amount of time allowed to restore data and systems after a disruption before significant damage occurs.
- SaaS (Software as a Service) — A software licensing and delivery model in which a third-party provider hosts software in the cloud and lets you access it via the Internet.
- VMs (Virtual Machines) — A software emulation of a computer system that allows multiple operating systems to run on a single physical machine.
Types of Data Backups — Pros & Cons
There are three main types of data backups:
- Full backups
- Differential backups
- Incremental backups
A full backup is the most comprehensive data backup method. It involves taking a protected copy of all data and system files and sending them to a desired storage location. In the event of data deletion, data corruption, or another critical data loss event, you can access your protected files and recover them accordingly.
Pros of Full Backups
- A full backup protects all data in your organization, including files, databases, apps, and SaaS workloads, stored on virtual devices and physical devices like a hard drive.
- A full backup is more reliable, as there are no dependencies on other copies of your protected data, streamlining your recovery process.
- Managing full backups is easier and less time-consuming because all data is protected in a single process.
Cons of Full Backups
- Full backups require a heavy workload and network bandwidth because you are backing up so many files simultaneously.
- Full backups require a longer backup window as more data is being transferred.
- Full backups consume more storage, increasing your data footprint, storage costs and total cost of ownership (TCO).
Unlike a full backup, a differential backup doesn't create a full copy of all your files. Instead, only the files that have changed since your last full backup are copied. Like full backups, you can back up files, databases, apps, SaaS workloads, and other systems and optimize your data recovery processes.
Pros of Differential Backups
- Differential backups require less bandwidth and storage space than full backups.
- Differential backups require less backup data time and a shorter backup window than full backups.
- Recovery is quicker than a full backup if you just need to recover data from your last differential backup.
Cons of Differential Backups
- Differential backups are dependent on the integrity and availability of the last full backup.
- Differential backups take generally longer to restore than incremental backups, due to more data being transferred.
- Differential backups require more storage space and resources than incremental backups.
An incremental backup copies and stores the data that have changed since your last full or incremental backup. Say you perform a full back on the first of the month and an incremental backup on the 15 of the month. The incremental backup will copy and store all changed files from the 1st through to the 15th. Now say you perform another incremental backup on the 30th. This second incremental backup will copy and store any file changes from the 15th to the 30th.
Pros of Incremental Backups
- Incremental backups require less storage space and resources than other full backups or incremental backups, and can improve the availability of systems with continuous scheduled recovery operations (high availability).
- Incremental backups require very little bandwidth in comparison with full backups and differential backups.
- Incremental backups utilize a shortened backup window.
Cons of Incremental Backups
- Recovering data sets to a point-in-time from an incremental backup can be slower than recovering data from a differential or full backup due to the dependency of each previous incremental backup.
- Incremental backups only transfer data that has been changed since the previous incremental backup. This includes data corruption or unwanted changes to data that could affect recoverability.
- During a restore, if required incremental backups are missing or corrupted, you might not be able to restore some data sets.
Types of Backup and Disaster Recovery Solutions
Here are some of the best backup and disaster recovery solutions for your business:
On-Premises Data Protection
On-premise data protection means backing up and storing data and systems on (and then recovering files from) infrastructure in your place of business rather than an off-site location. For example, you can protect and store data in a hard drive or data center on your premises rather than using a cloud provider.
- You can control your backup and data recovery processes without outsourcing these responsibilities to a third-party cloud provider.
- You might not have the storage space to keep physical equipment on your business premises.
- You don't need to pay a third-party cloud provider a monthly fee for their services or infrastructure.
- You might not have the time or IT labor resources to manage backup and recovery needs in your on-premise datacenter.
- You can maintain oversight by keeping all data sets and system files on-premise in a single data center rather than managing them from multiple external locations.
- You are vulnerable to a targeted data center cyber attack or disaster with no resiliency of secondary off-site copies.
The hybrid cloud model lets you backup some files to physical equipment on your premises and other files to the cloud.
Public Cloud Services
Using public cloud services like AWS and Microsoft Azure is another data backup and recovery method. You can protect and store data with one of these cloud computing services rather than protecting data in-house.
- Cloud backup can free up storage space in your physical data center.
- Cloud providers eliminate the need for managing on-premise infrastructure, streamlining data protection tasks for your IT team.
- The public cloud can scale to meet your data protection business needs faster and more cost-effective than on-premise.
- Cloud computing pricing requires you to pay a monthly fee for services you receive.
- Specialized worker knowledge in cloud computing and the public cloud is often required to manage public cloud infrastructure and associated data protection tasks.
- Vendor lock-in and lack of workload mobility can result from choosing a public cloud provider that is not aligned with your long term data protection strategy.
Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)
DRaaS is a managed service that takes care of your business’s disaster recovery plan in real time. An MSP provides backup solutions from their data centers and virtual machines.
- Data replication takes place in an off-site data center away from your premises, preventing your data center from being damaged in a natural disaster.
- MSPs provide failover services, which protect your systems from malfunctioning.
- Frees up time so your IT team can focus on other important data protection tasks.
- You need to pay an MSP a monthly fee for their services.
- Because you are delegating your disaster recovery plan to a third-party provider, you need to ensure they meet your agreed upon SLA RTOs and RPOs.
- You also need to trust that your MSP will respond quickly to a disaster event and not jeopardize your business.
Effective Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery Strategies
Here are some ways to optimize cloud backup and disaster recovery:
Identify Critical Data and Workloads
Determine the most critical and sensitive data in your business so you can protect these datasets in the event of a disaster. Decide on the amount of data you want to back up and the amount of time it will take you to complete this process.
Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan
Your plan should include disaster recovery strategies like retrieving copies of data and responding to a critical event. You should also define your recovery time objective and recovery point objective. Aligning your disaster recovery plan with your business continuity plan will improve data protection and ensure your business continues to operate after a disaster.
Test Data Recovery Processes
Always test all your recovery processes so they work in the event of a disaster. For example, you can pretend you have experienced a cyberattack and see how long it takes to retrieve copies of backed-up data and measure the impact of the "attack" on your business.
Here are some real-world success stories of cloud backup and disaster recovery:
- When a construction equipment retail and rental company experienced a ransomware attack, it retrieved lost data from a simple restore point.
- An automotive industry supplier experienced faster backup and recovery, simple deployments, and superior scalability after investing in a backup and recovery solution built for its cloud service Nutanix.
- An online and land-based company improved its backup and recovery efforts after migrating to a new multi-cloud solution.
HYCU — Your Ideal Data Backup Solution
All companies in the above case studies optimized backup and recovery after working with HYCU. This Data Protection as a Service platform simplifies data backup and recovery across premises, SaaS, public cloud, multi-cloud, and hybrid environments.
Unified Backup and Recovery
You can protect, migrate, and failover on-premises and cloud workloads from a simple user interface. That makes it easier to protect your critical data sets.
Built for Ransomware Protection
Reduce the ramifications of ransomware attacks with HYCU's air-gapped and immutable backups to the cloud. Now you can safeguard your IT environment without the hassle.
Automated Application Discovery
Optimize resiliency with HYCU's automated application discovery. HYCU protects your agile IT environment in real-time, helping you streamline the discovery of virtual resources.
Backup and Disaster Recovery FAQs
Here are answers to commonly-asked questions about backup and disaster recovery:
What are the differences between backup and disaster recovery?
Data backup refers to the process of backing up data. It might involve a full backup, incremental backup, or differential backup. Disaster recovery is the process of recovering from a disaster event. A disaster recovery plan outlines the steps to take after a critical incident.
What do recovery time objective and recovery point objective mean?
The Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is the maximum amount of data you can lose before disruption to your business becomes unacceptable. Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the maximum amount of time you can restore data and systems in the event of a disaster like a power outage before significant damage to your business occurs.
What is Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)?
DRaaS is a managed service where an MSP handles data backup and recovery for you in real time. Your MSP will provide backup solutions from virtual machines and take care of data replication and failover reduction.
What's the best way to backup critical data?
The best backup solution depends on your circumstances and requirements. You can back up copies of data on-site, off-site, or with a cloud backup service provider. For example, on-site backup gives you more control over your data but might require expensive physical equipment and lots of bandwidth.
What's the most common enterprise backup strategy?
Whether you want to automate full backups or carry out incremental backups, the 3-2-1 approach is the best data backup and disaster recovery strategy. It suggests you have three copies of data on two different media types, with one copy located off-site for disaster recovery. This approach can improve business operations, data protection, and workloads.
How can I optimize my organization's backup and disaster recovery process?
Optimize backup and disaster recovery by investing in the IT infrastructure and managed solutions that automate this process. Also, create a disaster recovery plan, determine which files you want to replicate and store and think about.
HYCU for Backup and Disaster Recovery
The information in this guide helps you understand the importance of backup and disaster recovery and the steps required to optimize these processes.
HYCU can improve data backup and recovery further. It's the only data protection provider that scales to safeguard all the data sources in your organization, helping you recover quickly from downtime, cybercrime, or another disaster event.
Searching for a backup and data recovery solution? HYCU Protege provides a purpose-built solution for managing your workloads in a single source of truth, helping you remove data silos and the pain points of running multiple backups. You can also view and manage your backed-up data with greater clarity than ever before.
Try HYCU by scheduling a free demo.