In breaking down the true cost of file storage, we explained how an intelligent backup solution can help keep those costs to a minimum. One of the unsung heroes of that process is a data storage concept called deduplication. In this post we’ll provide an overview on deduplication and the role it plays in an effective backup strategy.
What is Deduplication?
Deduplication is a technique that minimizes the amount of space required to save data on a given storage medium. As the name suggests, it is designed to combat the problem organizations of all sizes deal with on a regular basis – duplicate data. For some, it’s an accumulation of the exact same files. For others, it’s a collection of files that aren’t completely identical yet contain pieces of the same data. Even though the types of duplication are different, the results are all the same as precious space is needlessly consumed. Deduplication maximizes storage by eliminating duplicates and replacing other copies with metadata that points back to the original.
The Benefits of Backup Deduplication
The ability to effectively manage storage resources can make all the difference in your backup capabilities. Here’s how deduplication helps:
- Efficient storage allocation: Deduplication only writes unique data to disk, making it possible to greatly reduce the amount of capacity required for storage and allocate more space for backups. In one example illustrated by Microsoft, Windows deduplication resulted in 74 percent in space savings.
- Cost savings: Better storage allocation allows organizations to get much better mileage out of their storage devices. This can result in a significant cost savings because you’re spending less money on hardware upgrades.
- Network optimization: When performed at the source, deduplication optimizes storage without sending data over the network. This frees up the bandwidth needed to sustain network performance and reliability.
- Data center efficiency: The benefits of deduplication don’t stop at the backup process. Over time it can lead to substantial reductions in both power and physical space requirements, resulting in a more cost-efficient data center environment.
- Faster recovery and continuity: By eliminating redundant data from the equation, deduplication enables backups to be recovered much faster. In doing so, it minimizes downtime and helps keep business continuity plans on track.
Choosing the Right Deduplication
Not all backup solutions approach deduplication in the same manner. Some applications perform it at the backup source, while others implement it at the target. Source deduplication reduces the volume before data is transmitted to the backup destination. There are two advantages to this approach. First, it shrinks the backup window and allows the process to be completed in a shorter amount of time. Second, it creates a bandwidth-friendly backup process that allows for fast and cost-efficient data transfer to remote servers, which can help organizations save money on backing up to the cloud.
While target deduplication eliminates duplicate copies, it doesn’t reduce the size of data before being transmitted across a network. This process requires a higher amount of bandwidth but is often the more efficient of the two. Since deduplication is not performed until the data reaches its destination, it does not put any additional strain on backup servers. Target deduplication is ideal in larger data center environments where reducing the size of storage volumes is required, but bandwidth allocation isn’t necessarily an issue.
At the end of the day, the best form of deduplication will depend on your infrastructure and individual backup requirements. Many organizations prefer to eliminate the guesswork by opting for hybrid implementations that balance the advantages of both methods across their IT environment. We highly recommend consulting with a disaster recovery specialist to determine how you can unlock the best of both worlds.