Data Recovery Is There When You Need It, but It’s Better Not to Need It

By: Jacqueline Lee| - Leave a comment

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Understanding human history forces people to rely on records their forebears left behind. Without good records, present-day historians have a flawed understanding of what really happened. Extrapolating human history based on old records isn’t all that different from the data recovery process. Without regular backups, companies are forced to piece together what happened from the limited evidence left behind.

Data Backup Versus Data Recovery

Data backup is the process of copying existing data and storing the copies. Each backup is a snapshot of what the business looked like at a historical point in time. With frequent backups, companies have a better shot of restoring operations after a disaster. Without consistent data backup, they restore data from further back than they really want to go.

Data recovery, on the other hand, is a forensic process. It requires combing old media and old machines, both physical and virtual, to piece together what was lost and retrieve as much data as possible.

Restoring function after a disaster involves finding everything that happened between the disaster and the most recent backup. Depending on when that backup occurred, it could take a long time to put things back the way they were.

Types of Data Backup

Most enterprises have resources and routines for frequent data backup. Full backups of the entire data set, however, are time-consuming, and they require a significant set of processing and storage resources. For this reason, companies also rely on other types of backups, including incremental and differential backup. These two types of backup were described in a TechTarget article:

  • Incremental backups store only the data that changed since the most recent backup. They require fewer resources, but restorations from incremental backups take more time to piece together.
  • Differential backups record changes that happened since the last full backup. Instead of backing up only the most recent changes, they back up everything that changed since the last full backup. For example, if you do a full backup on Saturday, Sunday’s backup includes everything that changed since Saturday. Monday’s backup also includes all changes since Saturday, not just the incremental change from Sunday’s backup.

Both incremental and differential backups save time and resources while providing a good enough restoration system. Most enterprises stitch together a blend of full, incremental and differential backup to create an always-available backup from which to restore.

Without an effective backup system, restoration relies on data recovery and putting everything back together piecemeal. Data recovery takes a lot more time and there’s a greater potential for making mistakes.

Backing Up Small-Business Data

For most small and midsize businesses (SMBs), data backup just isn’t a priority. In many cases, they don’t operate from centralized data centers; their applications are based on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) portfolio. Restoration, in their minds, means logging back into these services after a power outage or other interruption. SaaS providers can be good secondary backup sources, but it’s risky to rely on them for all business backup needs.

Data recovery from a wide range of providers, instead of from a centralized source, makes restoring service time-consuming and complicated. If emergency services or hospitals rely on an SMB for data and service after a disaster, failure to prioritize data backup could be the difference between life and death.

A Better Way of Doing Things

Too often, SMBs think of disaster recovery in terms of temporary service disruptions from natural disasters, local power failures or acts of terrorism. They don’t think about scenarios in which the lights come back on but nothing goes back to the way it was.

Luckily for SMBs, there are services that specialize in managed cloud backup for smaller companies. Instead of developing their own systems for data backup — or hoping the SaaS provider is taking care of it — SMBs can take ownership of their data and feel confident it’s available no matter what happens to the business.

Data backups are a tool in the disaster recovery arsenal, but they’re only one part of a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. Data recovery is available if a business needs it after a disaster, but it’s much better not to need it at all.

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About The Author

Jacqueline Lee

Freelance Writer

Jacqueline Lee specializes in business and technology writing, drawing on over 10 years of experience in business, management and entrepreneurship. Currently, she blogs for HireVue and IBM, and her work on behalf of client brands has appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur and Inc. Magazine. In addition to writing, Jackie works as a social media manager and freelance editor. She's a member of the American Copy Editors Society and is completing a certificate in editing from the Poynter Institute.

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