Why You Should Consider Granular Recovery

Why You Should Consider Granular Recovery

August 23

Each day your employees and customers are creating data. The sheer amount of data we’re creating has skyrocketed over the past few years. Plain text and simple clip-art are now being replaced by high resolution photos and HD quality videos in everything from PowerPoint presentations to training videos. The power of granular recovery is welcome in this environment.

I worked for a company that included a manual with each computer they sold. The manual was neatly organized in a 3-ring binder, and customers really enjoyed it. Today, the company still includes a binder in the box, but few customers reference it anymore. Before the computer is boxed and shipped, a technician creates a personalized video tour of the customer’s new PC. The video is uploaded to YouTube and then shared with the customers, who love it. Before uploading the video to YouTube, it is saved locally, which takes up a lot of storage.

files containers

As the amount of data increases, the ability to search and recover it becomes more challenging, and that’s where granular recovery plays a major role. This week, I want to discuss what granular recovery is, along with a handful of cases which helps demonstrate how it can make your life a lot easier.

What Is Granular Recovery?

In short, you can use Granular Recovery Technology (GRT) to restore individual items from a backup set. I’ve heard some people refer to GRT as a feature which allows one to isolate a needle in the haystack.

Say you have a disgruntled employee who decides to delete his inbox before heading out the door. In the past, IT might have to restore a full backup of the Exchange server. After that, they would perform a time-consuming search for the employee’s emails. Compare that process to running a product like StorageCraft’s Granular Recovery for Exchange which quickly recovers individual mailboxes and email, without having to restore the full database.

granular recovery for exchange shadowprotect screenshot

Granular recovery is often used to recover a subset of a larger dataset. It’s great to be able to recover entire virtual machines or entire databases. But that’s not always what your customers need. Not all data is created equal, so being able to differentiate mission-critical data from everything else is an incredibly valuable service MSPs can offer.

Should MSP’s Care?

They should. GRT can add to their current service offerings without a lot of expense or complexity. If you’re already providing recovery services, why not add GRT as another option? You’ll need to accommodate for the additional storage, but the additional revenue should cover that. Every MSP should be looking to provide more services for their customers, and GRT is a service where its benefits are easy to explain to management. All managers understand productivity and they can’t stand watching employees sit around waiting on IT.

Granular recovery also helps MSPs and developers push updates or new code into production, knowing they can minimize the impact of failures. Anytime you can provide your customers with peace of mind, you’ll find they don’t mind paying for your services.

delete file concept


GRT isn’t only about recovering your mission-critical data. A full-restore will take care of that, and is always an option. But what if you’re working against a deadline and you accidentally delete a string of emails you need in order to close a deal in the morning? Restoring the entire Exchange database will fix the problem, but you don’t have time for that. Using GRT will allow you to recover your inbox and those important emails you need to finish your work. ShadowProtect Granular Recovery for Exchange makes quick work of this problem by providing advanced search options to make sure you find the exact emails you need. It’s basically a drag and drop job as you can see in this video.

Data loss can happen at any time. People make mistakes and hardware fails, and it’s not uncommon for either to happen at the worst possible time. GRT provides another option to recover that data quickly. But not all data loss is conducive to GRT. For example, a hard drive fails and corrupts data across all your databases, and you’ll need to install new drives and perform a full recovery.

While Exchange is an almost ideal candidate for GRT, other products can also benefit from this technology. GRT works well in the following environments:

  • You have created a lot of data, and a full recovery would be time consuming;
  • Data has been accidentally deleted or removed from mailboxes, a full recovery is not necessary;
  • Using products like Microsoft Active Directory, SharePoint and Hyper-V are prime candidates.

All these products include an advanced architecture, store a lot of critical data, and would require a lot of time to recovery from a base image.


If you’re not already offering your customers a GRT solution, you should consider it. Especially if you’re already offering recovery services of any kind. Adding a GRT solution is not only another service you can offer, it’s an incredibly valuable one for your customers. It has the potential to make employees more efficient by reducing downtime.

It’s not difficult to see where GRT products are headed. While most focus on providing GRT agents to Microsoft products, expect to see GRT for products like Salesforce, Slack, Box, Zendesk and maybe even SAP down the road. These products store mission-critical data that’s often hard to differentiate from everything else, so it makes sense they would benefit from GRT. Only time will tell.