There are things in life over which you have no control—unexpected things. An employee might delete an essential file, a faithful client might stop subscribing to your service, or an employee might leave your organization to pursue other opportunities. Things like this happen every day.
When it comes to business continuity, having control over as many aspects of your business as possible allows you to maintain the flexibility you need to survive when the unexpected strikes. Things like your computer systems and your data are some of the easiest things to control and are also the most essential. But while it’s one thing to set up an IT infrastructure when a business is starting out, it’s quite another to make sure all of the data on those systems is safe and useable in an emergency.
To safeguard data, you need software to create backup images of your systems, and you need safe, reliable hardware to store them on. You should be able to decide how to take your backups and where you want to put them because when you need to recover, you absolutely need to recover. Limitations and boundaries will only inhibit your flexibility.
Walt Bell knows all about flexibility. He’s the co-owner and operator of IT managed service provider ProComp Group in Portland. After nearly thirty years in the IT industry, Walt has learned time and again that keeping data safe and recoverable is really about maintaining total control over it.
When you’re talking about backup and disaster recovery, control means you can securely store data where you want, move it where you want, access it any time, and utilize it freely. If you delete a folder or file, you should be able to get it back and when disaster strikes, your data should survive unscathed and you should be able recover quickly. In other words, the unexpected should leave you unaffected.
You need two things to achieve this kind of flexibility, and you need to make sure you’ve got the best of both.
Backup and Recovery
It all starts with an effective backup, but a backup isn’t really solid unless you can recover what you need—even if it’s just a single file or folder.
For this, Walt turned to StorageCraft ShadowProtect.
We frequently use ShadowProtect to recover files and folders, and not necessarily for full system recovery. It’s more of a backup and restore methodology where we are reaching into the backed up image and restoring data that was corrupted, overwritten, deleted, or what have you.
Granular recovery is great for the small things, but occasionally things fail. Unexpected failures are the reason you should also be to recover everything,
We’ve had a few instances where we’ve used ShadowProtect for full system recovery. Generally, we use ShadowProtect IT Editon. It allows us boot into the recovery environment using a USB flash drive. From there, we can navigate directly to the underlying backup data repository and do a restoration of the necessary disk volumes. It’s simpler than having to build an ISO-based optical disk. We’ve also used ShadowProtect to restore and migrate physical to virtual servers.
Once you’ve got the backup images, your solution should give you the option to put your backup images where you want them, whether it’s a data center or an external hard drive. As Walt explains, ShadowProtect lets you choose:
ShadowProtect is basically platform agnostic. You can store backups to any storage location. Whether that is a directly attached volume or a network share, we’ve never had any issues with hardware or software compatibility.
Given the choice of where to put client backup images, it’s best to choose a secure, safe place to house them. Backups need to get from a client system to a repository, and what if you don’t want to transfer large amounts of critical client data over the Internet? Transferring several terabytes of data can take a long time, and the Internet is not always the safest way to do it.
Sometimes it’s better to transport data from one location to another on a physical drive. For this, you need hardware that allows you to maintain control before, during, and after transport.
Hardware and Reliability
Walt tried a number of different hardware vendors that offered removable hard drive solutions. He found that the hardware wasn’t durable enough and didn’t have built-in encryption, two factors he feels are necessary for moving hard drives between locations.
Luckily, Walt was introduced to CRU through a user group.
Compared to what ProComp had used in the past, CRU was of a higher caliber. A lot of solutions are built with mobility in mind and often feature removable disk drives, but many of these aren’t built to withstand the demands of day to day removal and replacements, so moving parts tend to break. If the hard drive can’t dock properly with the chassis, there’s little or nothing you can do to access the data until you get a replacement. With CRU, that’s not an issue. As Walt puts it,
I like how the CRU stuff is built, particularly the removable drive carriers. There are fewer movable parts than the other vendor’s products, so it tends to be more dependable as there are no breaking bezels, levers, hinges, or connectors—it’s all locked into place.
Tough hardware is great for mobility, but how do you keep everything secure during transport? Security is important. In the end, CRU won Walt over with their security features:
CRU provides embedded encryption. Our other solution provided a similar offering with external chassis and removable hard drive technology, but they didn’t have encryption built into the device. Now when a piece of media goes offsite, it’s encrypted. There’s no risk of somebody being able to access the information on the drive if it’s lost or stolen.
Encryption gives you piece of mind that your data is safe, and when it comes to client backups of critical data, and especially on removable hard drives, you should be certain that it’s secure.
That’s why you’d want to use encryption native to many CRU hardware units. Those with encryption capabilities give you the option to encrypt the contents of the hard drive using an external key instead of a password. If you’ve got multiple client backups, or even just other data you’d like to keep secure, you can encrypt it all at once on the hard drive, without having to encrypt each ShadowProtect image or other pieces of data separately, and there’s no worry about designing and managing a slew of safe passwords. That way you’ve got everything locked down and under control.
Hardware and Software
While ShadowProtect essentially works with any type of hard drive, some drives are really built with quality in mind.
It’s important to use high-quality hardware and it’s never wise to go cheap when it comes to keeping mission critical data safe. Plus, you never know when you’ll decide you’d rather seed backups to an offsite location instead of transferring terabytes of data offsite through communication networks, so it’s wise to keep your options open by using removable hard drives.
It’s also essential to remember that if you buy cheap hardware and use it with cheap backup and disaster recovery software, you can’t be sure you will fully recover.
It takes quality in both hardware and software to put together effective backup and disaster recovery solutions so that when trouble does come your way, you’ve got all ends covered. You need your data when you need it, so measuring your solution based on quality is the only way to ensure you have full control, even in the face of disaster.
About ProComp Group
ProComp is an Oregon-based IT support and consulting firm providing clients with everything from IT infrastructure design to implementation to support.
ProComp has been serving Portland-area small businesses since 2002 and works hard to develop relationships with partners built on communication, personality, and trust, while also helping clients think about long-term return on investment and total costs of ownership when it comes to making IT-related business decisions.
ProComp is a StorageCraft partner and uses ShadowProtect Server, Virtual, and IT Edition for everything from backup and recovery to migration and testing.
Founded in 1986, CRU is a pioneer in data security and data mobility devices.
The company’s flagship DataPort®, along with Data Express® and RhinoJR® (formerly StorCase), and WiebeTech™ product brands of removable and external hard drive enclosures are the de facto standard for physical data security and safe data transporting in government, education and business markets.
CRU products are widely used in media rich data environments including audio/video production, digital cinema, video security capture, and disk-2-disk backup and archiving applications. Backed by the industry’s leading warranties and connector ratings, CRU products are available through major distributors, PC manufacturers, specialty system builders and resellers throughout the world.
CRU operates with an unwavering commitment to superior quality, on-time delivery and total customer service. Our engineering design team and support staff are dedicated to working with customers to develop solutions that meet their particular needs. CRU will continue to develop innovative high quality computer data storage and mobility solutions to keep pace with the rapid changes in the disk drive market.