Data Backup and Recovery Methods

What is backup and restore?

Backup is the process of creating a copy of data to protect against accidental or malicious deletion, corruption, hardware failure, ransomware attacks, and other types of data loss. Data backups can be created locally, offsite, or both. An offsite data backup is a key part of any business continuity/disaster recovery plan

Restore is the process of retrieving data from a backup. This might mean copying data from backup media to an existing device or to a new device. It also could mean copying data from the cloud to a local device, or from one cloud to another. Recovery refers to the process of restoring data and operations (e.g., returning a server to normal working order following hardware failure). Products aimed at rapid recovery of data and operations are typically referred to as business continuity and disaster recovery, or BCDR, solutions.

Restore and recovery times can vary widely depending on the backup format and data recovery methods you choose. Additionally, restore needs also vary (e.g., restoring a single file vs. an entire server). Finally, critical data may live on workstations, local servers, and in the cloud. These are important considerations when selecting a backup and recovery solution.

Direct-to-cloud backup, cloud-to-cloud backup, and SaaS backup

With direct-to-cloud, offsite file backups are copied directly to the cloud, bypassing the need for a local device. Cloud-to-cloud backup is the process of copying data from one cloud to another cloud. SaaS backup refers to backing up data created in SaaS applications such as Microsoft 365 or Google G Suite. 

Many organizations believe that because SaaS data exists in the cloud, there is no longer a need for backup. This however, is not true. Data created in SaaS applications is just as vulnerable to accidental or malicious deletion and ransomware attacks as on-premises data. Backup and recovery in cloud computing is still evolving and will continue to develop as more businesses migrate workloads into the cloud.

Business continuity/disaster recovery (BCDR):

BCDR solutions are designed to enable fast restores that minimize business downtime. To do so, these solutions use snapshot and virtualization technologies to create and store bootable virtual server images on a backup device or in the cloud. In the event of a primary server failure or other outage, business operations are “failed over” to the backup device or cloud while the primary server is being restored, repaired, or replaced. Once the primary server is back up and running, operations are “failed back” to the primary device.

BCDR recovery times are typically measured in minutes rather than the hours or even days required of traditional backup tools.  BCDR solutions have become popular with businesses of all sizes, but are probably most beneficial for small to medium businesses (SMBs). In the past, failover technologies required massive hardware investment and high management costs. Because of their relatively low cost, today’s BCDR solutions have revolutionized SMB data protection.