Effective Backup Strategies You May Not Have Thought About

Effective Backup Strategies You May Not Have Thought About

January 23

The most exciting thing about IT (at least for me) is how differently people approach projects they work on and problems they encounter. IT is not so different from writing, really. We’ve all got our own voice and our own style, and we’ve all got budgets and timeframes we’re forced to work within. Plus we’ve got different levels of knowledge, though we do our best when we understand current trends and technologies that can help empower us to complete our work in better ways. In any case, there’s usually no one right answer and there are multiple ways to do any one thing.

Take backup and recovery, for instance. One business’s idea of a nice, effective backup and recovery strategy is another business’s complete waste of money—it all depends. But as you’re thinking of how to design and build backup and recovery solutions for your clients, it’s useful to look at what others are doing. We’ve all got blind spots and we can learn a lot from other IT providers and other people in the tech space.

With that in mind, we’d like to take a look at some of the unique ways our partners approach backup and recovery for their clients.

Cloud to local

While this is against conventional backup wisdom (we promote local backup first, cloud backup second), it’s still a really interesting method. One StorageCraft partner works with a client who is determined not to have any but the necessary hardware onsite. This means they’ve got desktop units onsite, but any servers they use are virtualized in the cloud. This creates some problems, doesn’t it? As we know, the cloud is prone to downtime and there have been instances where a cloud vendor has deleted data by accident and were unable to recover it. Plus, when you completely rely on Internet access and it goes down then *POOF*, you’ve got nothing and you’re incurring costly downtime—nobody wants to pay for that.

In order to solve this problem, our partner had an interesting idea. Why not put backup software on the virtual server and back it up locally? By installing StorageCraft ShadowProtect Virtual and ImageManager on the virtual server, he was able to create backup files and replicate them back to the client’s office—backwards from how you’d usually do backup. This gave the clients a backup they could actually run locally as a VM, which protects them if there is Cloud or Internet downtime, and also ensures that data is stored in not one but two places.

A separate backup network

In our recent case study with Xamin and Western Digital, we talked to Xamin about how they use StorageCraft along with the Western Digital Sentinel NAS device to backup their clients, and we found that they too have a unique approach. Rather than backing up and replicating over the same network that handles all of the regular traffic, they set up a completely separate network dedicated to backups. While StorageCraft products do allow for bandwidth throttling while replicating (they can also be configured to send at night when network traffic is at a minimum), Xamin decided it made more sense to simply segregate the traffic and never worry about throttling or network congestion. While it may be costly for some to set up a separate physical network, there are certainly those businesses that can’t risk having any network slowdown any time of day and for these people, it’s a solid option.

One-off backups

Incremental backups make sure you’ve got the latest information stored on a backup chain, but there are also a few reasons why you might just take a single, full backup.

Testing- Let’s suppose you’ve got a chance to make a splash with a potential client. They’re having some issues on a workstation and they want you to resolve them. If you can pull it off, you’ll be in a great position to earn their trust and sell them managed services. But maybe this workstation has an issue you’ve never seen or requires you to do something with a somewhat questionable outcome. Before you start fiddling with the unit, you decide to take a backup. But time is a concern, so you need a quick backup right away. For this, you could use a tool like ShadowProtect IT edition. Since it’s loaded on a USB stick, you can plug it into the workstation and take a quick backup to external media before you start fiddling with the computer. If you happen to make a mistake or if the outcome is unfavorable, it’s easy to restore the computer to the state it was in before you touched it, using the backup you stored on the external drive.

Migration and hardware refresh- Suppose you’ve got to backup lots of workstations that are all going to be moved to new hardware in a large hardware refresh of multiple units. IT edition can be used to take an unlimited number of backups all without installing the full ShadowProtect program on any of the end points, which means you can take lots of quick backups and restore them to fresh hardware.

Archiving- Lastly, you can use it for archiving. If you have one specific unit with crucial, but rarely changing data, you can preserve it as an encrypted backup on external media. This can be useful for everything from a server that doesn’t see a lot of action to a C-level executive’s desktop workstation—the possibilities are many, though it’s important to remember that any new information isn’t saved this way and it might not be a quick recovery option, nor is it one that gives you a reasonable recovery point objective.

What interesting ways are you backing up clients?

Photo credit: Felixtreller via Flickr