Building Multiple Layers of Backup for Greater Reliability, Faster Restores

Paul Mah
Slide Show

Top 10 Pitfalls of Traditional Data Backup Methods

Common pitfalls that can severely affect a company's processes and bottom line.

The advent of cloud-based storage has fueled intense debates on the various merits of cloud-based storage versus conventional RAID-protected local storage. Certainly, the various arguments are generally well rehearsed and coherent. Cloud storage, for example, is superior in terms of distancing organizations from local or even regional disasters. Depending on actual implementation, however, it is also comparatively weaker in security and restore times. RAID is fast, but is far less resistant against disasters such as fires and floods.


As highlighted in a previous post on the relevance of tape to SMBs, the use of tape storage offers a way out by storing data on an archival medium that is shipped to an external location. On the down side, restoring from tape mandates an unavoidable lead time for shipping; more if tape drives have been rendered inoperable and new ones have to be acquired. So while no data was lost in the Gmail outage earlier this year thanks to the availability of offline tape backup, having to restore corrupted data from the tape took many precious days to complete.


So why am I talking about multiple types of data backup? Well, I simply want to illustrate the dichotomy between robust backups and fast access times; greater reliability is often at odds to achieving faster restores. Of course, storage administrators and IT managers have long known that one way to achieve robust backups and short restore windows is to build multiple layers of backup to leverage the best of each.


I had the opportunity to review the ioSafe SoloPRO external hard disk drive recently, which is no ordinary storage device. According to ioSafe, the SoloPRO is fireproof against data loss at up to 155 degrees Fahrenheit for half an hour, and waterproof to depths of 10 feet for 72 hours. While I didn't feel inclined to put it to the test by burning down my home office, the solid and very heavy chassis does inspire confidence that it works as advertised.


Beyond its impressive specifications, the SoloPRO's fireproof and waterproof storage capability opens up the opportunity for the company's family of rugged storage hardware for use as a new layer of backup device. Not only do they offer good physical protection against a large number of disasters, but they also allow for excellent restore times. Depending on the exact device, this may range from 3Gbps for devices with eSATA and USB 2.0, or 5Gbps for USB 3.0-equipped models.


When performing a traditional backup to tape or to the cloud, for example, a copy can be simultaneously mirrored on a local SoloPRO storage device. Mozy supports this via its Mozy 2xProtect service, while dedicated NAS appliances like those from Synology offer the ability to define an unlimited number of backup jobs to do pretty much the same thing. Obviously, the concept will work with other direct attached storage devices as well, but they won't be resistant to fire and water.


Ultimately, building multiple layers of backup for greater reliability and faster restores isn't really difficult beyond some thought and initial setup. With proper planning, this results not only in better protection against data loss, but allows SMBs to recover from disasters much faster, too.

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