Nov 13 2008

A Backup Primer

Backup isn’t simply backup anymore. Today’s full-functioned software has numerous features designed to customize and simplify backup while helping companies with legal compliance.

The ability to stage backups — save files first to a disk-based storage source and then to the ultimate source — can increase flexibility and speed while helping balance network loads.

“We really liked the ability to back up first to a fast disk array and then transfer to a slower, larger tape archive less frequently. That was a very important advance in terms of real-world backup functionality,” says Andrew Kagan of New York e-commerce development company Enigmedia.

Another important feature for many companies is the snapshot transfer — the ability to extract a particular point in time from any backup and transfer it to another data set.

“Say you have a large destination set that has hundreds of days’ worth of information and hundreds of sources. You can extract a particular point in time from any of those days and transfer it to another set,” explains Jason Ferenczy-Zumpano of Cornerstone Medical Care in Brandon, Fla. “We use it to do staging for disk-to-disk-to-tape, but we also use it to do disk-to-disk-to-offsite across VPNs for disaster recovery.”

Yet another important feature is proactive backup. After setting a range of sources, destinations and intervals, the system automatically backs up as specified on all available media.

That’s particularly important in organizations that don’t have a specified IT manager, Ferenczy-Zumpano says.

“In a small business, where you don’t necessarily have an IT person to handle everything, you don’t have to worry about things like tape rotation. Everything is automatic,” he says.

Other features small businesses find increasingly important include enhanced reporting (in the form of user-definable reports), report editing and allocation flexibility, which lets users set the system to back up according to available memory and native speed of the backup device.