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By Suresh Shanmugam, Product Marketing, at Vembu Technologies
November 02, 2012

Vembu Online Data Backup Expert Tips: The Importance of a Good Disaster Recovery Plan

Every day, most of us deal with digital data in the form of emails, databases, contacts, documents, images, videos, etc., you name it. Dealing with this digital data is vital for every industry. But, data is never safe as it is very open and the data storage devices are not 100% fail-proof. Your valuable data can be lost due to disasters like human error, device failures/errors, natural calamities. Hence, protecting data and having a good disaster recovery plan becomes very crucial. In case of any disaster, a good disaster recovery plan should help you recover your data from backups and reconstruct your data systems.

The main aspects of backup disaster recovery planning are:

  • How fast can you recover your data / Recovery time
  • Reliability of data recovery
  • Reachability of the backup data
  • Cost of data recovery

Choosing Recovery Plans:
In onsite backups, data can be stored in the following storage mediums:

  • Another disk drive / partition
  • CD/DVD disks
  • External disk drive
  • Tape drive
  • NAS / SAN / File server
  • Local backup server

Let us see the pros and cons of using the above storage options:
Storage on disk, partitions, CD/DVD disks can be easy, affordable and easy-to-transport, but forces us to rethink ‘what if the whole disk crashes?’ Also storage options like CD’s and DVD’s are fragile and vulnerable to damage. Though options like tape drives, NAS / SAN / File server are good choices for larger storage, the cost of maintenance is quite high and maintenance is cumbersome.

Storage on cloud eliminates all the limitations of the above storage options. With cloud storage infrastructure like Amazon S3 storage, you can focus on other aspects of your business and forget about managing, monitoring & maintaining the storage hardware. You can access your data anywhere and anytime. The cost of storage is very affordable these days. Though the recovery time may be a bit longer, but then you may have to consider the security of your data, too.

Best practices:
Backing up your data is just half of your disaster recovery plan. The essential part is how to recover it.

Following are some of the best practices to set up a good disaster recovery plan:
What to backup: Choose what data should be backed up and what not to.  For example, backing up system file and application binaries may not be required and in which case, it is sufficient to backup only the necessary data files. The system can be easily reconstructed by re-installing the OS/applications again and then restoring the backed up data.

How to backup: Prior to backing application data, one should learn and realize how to backup application data. Merely backing up application data as files won’t be a correct and a complete online data backup solution. For example, backing up Exchange Server data by it’s application data file (*.edb) alone won’t be enough. Though you can backup those files, they cannot be restored. Hence, knowledge on choosing the correct backup criteria for application is required.

Monitoring: Though your backup system is automatic, close monitoring is important to sort out any issues that may occur. If any issues occur with the backup and if it cannot be corrected by the backup application (not all the OS/application/storage issues can be handled by the backup software), it will require user intervention. So, the backup admin should monitor the backup software’s reports, alerts, events from time to time.

Plan B: Always have a plan B for your remote backup software. For example, having an image backup for your system will save you, in case your backup software failed to backup your data. Replicating your backed up data is another option for easy disaster recovery.

Drills: A 100% perfect disaster recovery plan designed and implemented, is never 100%, if it is not tested in live environment. Always perform periodic recovery drills to ensure that your disaster recovery plan is working as you had designed. Always have a clear flowchart/diagram of your disaster recovery plan & emergency procedures and share it with your system’s key personnel.

For your business continuity, your disaster recovery plan is the backbone. Plan it well!

StoreGrid Cloud provides the ideal platform for the service provider to offer the most cost effective backup and recovery services without the headache and expense of managing a data center. Managed Service Providers and Value Added Resellers can now power their Cloud backup services by using StoreGrid Cloud Edition which is a complete end-to-end brandable cloud backup solution. StoreGrid Cloud Edition, a cloud backup software uses the scalable and the reliable storage infrastructure Amazon Web Services(AWS) to deliver high-quality, simple and reliable public cloud backup solution.

About the Author: Suresh Shanmugam is a Product Marketing Associate at Vembu Technologies, a leader in providing cost effective, hybrid (on-premise and cloud) data protection and business focused online backup and disaster recovery solutions for ISPs, MSPs, VARs, Managed Hosting Providers and Educational Institutions. Vembu’s flagship product, StoreGrid, an award winning cloud solution has delivered tangible value to over 3,500 partners worldwide.

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