Backup Strategies for the SMB

Paul Mah

Earlier this afternoon, I saw a question posted by someone at a popular online discussion board, asking about the best backup strategy to adopt for the home. Reader "Nethead" replied with a number of tongue-in-cheek backup tips for the home user. While decidedly non-technological, I thought some of it makes perfect sense.

 

Inspired by it, I came up with my own list of archival strategies for the small and medium-sized business. Do let me know if you have anything to add to the list.

 

You don't need to backup all your software

 

I'll be the first to admit that I was one of those chaps who back up each release of installation packages for the software used by the SMB I work at. I have come to realize that while this makes sense on one level, backing up installation packages is often a waste of time and resource.

 

While it is true that storage is growing increasingly cheaper by the day, the amount of data that is generated is growing exponentially, too. Among other things, the Internet has changed the face of software distribution, and just about every application can be found online for easy download. The irony is that you are actually better protected with recently released software than an archived one. That version of Mozilla Firefox (3.5) that you archived a few weeks ago has some decidedly ugly bugs and should not be installed at this point.


 

If you are anxious about dealing with unstable Internet connectivity or installing only tried-and-tested versions, simply maintaining a copy of the latest version of the installation files will be more than adequate. Honestly, though, you have bigger things to be worried about if your Internet connection is constantly flaky.

 

Backing up should be everyone's prerogative

 

I think a common mistake is that SMBs go to extremes when it comes to backing up data: They either adopt a "big brother" approach and attempt to back up everything, or there is a complete lack of centralized infrastructure for data protection and everyone is left to their own devices.

 

A good middle ground would be creating a repository of storage space that is properly protected and backed up regularly. Users are then allocated a finite but adequate amount of space for their storage purposes and trained to store all their files on this volume. This passes the baton on to the user, since they are the best candidate to know what is important to them.

 

Unfortunately, a lot of SMBs end up adopting the opposite approach -- regularly backing up every bit of data from each workstation, for "just in case" scenarios. However, this is ineffective use of time and a horrible waste of storage resources, even with the use of remote cloning software.

 

Create additional tiers of storage

 

Blazingly fast RAID-10 array with redundant PSU as well as spare hard disks for hot failover? Well, such hardware is called "near-line storage" in most SMBs, which will have something similar. However, there is really no need to have everything on near-line storage, which is expensive to acquire and maintain -- they are normally never switched off.

 

Certainly, it would be an expensive mistake to treat all data on a single tier. One suggestion I have for SMBs is to create additional tiers of storage that reside on slower -- and cheaper -- appliances. In fact, they can even be stored on tape drives or hard disk drives that are switched off and stored in a safe location.

 

A special repository could be created, for example. Data stored in this repository could be taken offline periodically, perhaps weekly, and transferred to either in the cheaper tape or hard disk.

 

If you have any other thoughts on backup strategies that SMBs can adopt, do feel free to share them here.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jul 21, 2009 1:27 AM Jess Jess  says:

Hi Paul,

Thank you for sharing this article.

Backing up / storing data online has become a common practice these days. Internet technology has come a long way ... now you can easily backup your important files to a remote location in the comfort of your office or home.

While researching online backup services, I came across a recommended top 75 online backup companies here:

http://www.backupreview.info/2009/07/01/top-75-online-backup-companies-for-july-2009/

The ranking has been broken into three sectors: Consumer, SMB, and Enterprise.

Backing up data is very crucial for anyone, whether an individual, a small business or a corporation enterprise. One way of backing up data, and the most efficient and reliable, is online backup. Online backup has now become a widely accepted form of backup.

Also, the above same site has reviewed a number of online backup companies, here:

http://www.backupreview.info/category/our-reviews/

Cheers,

Reply
Jul 21, 2009 7:50 AM Mike Garland Mike Garland  says:

Paul - this is the most sensible guide to backup for small businesses that I've read for a while. You don't need to backup everything, and there is a level of backup that is right for different types of data. I would highly recommend, however, that backup for critical data is automated and sent off-site.

The other way to view data backup is to imagine what data is required to re-establish the business functions ASAP, and plan accordingly.

Reply
Jul 21, 2009 10:49 AM Paul Mah Paul Mah  says: in response to Jess

Thanks Jess,

I'm sure the list would be useful SMBs looking around for service providers for online backup.

Regards,

Paul Mah.

Reply
Jul 21, 2009 10:51 AM Paul Mah Paul Mah  says: in response to Mike Garland

Mike,

I think you have an excellent point there, especially in terms of figuring out which data is crucial to re-establishing business functions.

Regards,

Paul Mah.

Reply
Jul 23, 2009 3:10 AM Nagaprasad Nagaprasad  says: in response to Paul Mah

07/20/2009 22:07:14 ANS1512E Scheduled event 'FS02AG2V1_Q3_Q4' failed.  Return code = 12.

07/21/2009 22:15:22 ANS1228E Sending of object '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/vinayh/Mails/outlook/outlook.pst' failed

07/21/2009 22:15:22 ANS4047E There is a read error on '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/vinayh/Mails/outlook/outlook.pst'. The file is skipped.

07/21/2009 22:17:31 ANS1802E Incremental backup of '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3' finished with 1 failure

07/21/2009 22:17:31 ANS1512E Scheduled event 'FS02AG2V1_Q3_Q4' failed.  Return code = 12.

07/22/2009 21:32:20 ANS1228E Sending of object '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/kishor lala/temp/outlook_old.pst' failed

07/22/2009 21:32:20 ANS4047E There is a read error on '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/kishor lala/temp/outlook_old.pst'. The file is skipped.

07/22/2009 21:58:20 ANS1228E Sending of object '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/sreedhar kumar/Personal Folders(1).pst' failed

07/22/2009 21:58:20 ANS4047E There is a read error on '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/sreedhar kumar/Personal Folders(1).pst'. The file is skipped.

07/22/2009 21:58:20 ANS1228E Sending of object '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/sreedhar kumar/backup PSTS/outlook backup.pst' failed

07/22/2009 21:58:20 ANS4047E There is a read error on '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/sreedhar kumar/backup PSTS/outlook backup.pst'. The file is skipped.

07/22/2009 21:58:20 ANS1228E Sending of object '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/sreedhar kumar/outlook data/Outlook Profilesreedhar kumar's MailBox-00000001.pst' failed

07/22/2009 21:58:20 ANS4047E There is a read error on '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/sreedhar kumar/outlook data/Outlook Profilesreedhar kumar's MailBox-00000001.pst'. The file is skipped.

07/22/2009 21:58:20 ANS1228E Sending of object '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/sreedhar kumar/outlook data/Outlook.pst' failed

07/22/2009 21:58:20 ANS4047E There is a read error on '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/sreedhar kumar/outlook data/Outlook.pst'. The file is skipped.

07/22/2009 21:58:20 ANS1228E Sending of object '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/sreedhar kumar/outlook data/new mails/outlook.pst' failed

07/22/2009 21:58:20 ANS4047E There is a read error on '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/sreedhar kumar/outlook data/new mails/outlook.pst'. The file is skipped.

07/22/2009 22:00:22 ANS1228E Sending of object '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/vinayh/Mails/outlook/outlook.pst' failed

07/22/2009 22:00:22 ANS4047E There is a read error on '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3/vinayh/Mails/outlook/outlook.pst'. The file is skipped.

07/22/2009 22:01:31 ANS1802E Incremental backup of '/bnrfs02_fs02ag2v1/q3' finished with 7 failure

07/22/2009 22:01:31 ANS1512E Scheduled event 'FS02AG2V1_Q3_Q4' failed.  Return code = 12.

can u provide solution for this

Reply
Jul 23, 2009 5:30 AM Paul Mah Paul Mah  says: in response to Nagaprasad

Sounds like you're having some error reading from disk. Sounds like a bad sector bad sector. It will probably make sense to do a thorough hard disk scan, and/or switch to a new HDD soon once you can confirm the bad sectors.

Reply
Aug 17, 2010 3:12 AM Reliable business backup Reliable business backup  says:

Data backup is a lot more critical and complicated than most businesses think.

That's why it's important to pick an experienced online backup provider like Remote Data Backups (http://www.remotedatabackups.com) to ensure your data is 100% recoverable in case you run into problems.

Many of the other backup services I've tried, or reviews I've read, are wrought with restore problems. And if your restores fail after a crisis, where does that leave you?

Reply

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