Best Practices: Backup and Recovery Strategies

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You can't recover data that you haven't kept. But how confident are you that the data on which your business depends is backed up successfully? This paper examines the kinds of data storage technologies and solutions that are best for all businesses and offers some best practices for ensuring the successful data backup and recovery required to sustain operations -- regardless of what happens to your business.

It's always a challenge to keep your business data readily available when you need it. And this job gets even tougher the smaller your technical staff -- assuming that you have a staff at all.

Managing and Minimizing Storage Requirements

To meet your growing data storage demands without suffering through repeated upgrade hassles, it's worthwhile to stop and carefully review your:

  • Current and anticipated storage requirements.
  • Data protection and backup needs, since backing up multiple servers, volumes, and desktop systems can quickly get very complex.

Cost-effective Data Storage Solutions

The cost of data storage has plummeted in recent years. Meanwhile, the labor costs associated with managing data storage keep climbing. So consider buying more storage -- even more than you think you'll need. It's worth it in the long run and the extra cost is negligible.

To keep storage management costs in line, think hard about how you'll configure your data storage. For instance:

  • It's probably not worth upgrading the storage built into your existing servers since the cost of backing up the data they contain, adding new hard drives, then restoring the data will be substantial. Instead, make sure that the data storage you do buy is scalable, so it's easy to add more later when you require it.
  • Buy the kind of data storage devices best suited to the services they support. For instance, IDE drives usually work just fine for file and basic application services, as do SATA controllers and drives. While IDE and SATA devices can't match the performance of SCSI drives (which offers fast transfer rates and rotation speeds), they cost much less than SCSI solutions. For applications requiring high-performance and reliable availability of data, look to SCSI RAID solutions, which cost more but deliver fault tolerance with redundant configurations (how much availability and fault-tolerance depends on what sort of RAID level you select).
  • If your data is stored on multiple servers, you can consolidate it onto fewer servers with larger hard drives so management and backup is easier.
  • If you need to add storage to your company network, consider NAS devices, which are simpler than file servers since they use web-based administrator interfaces to mask operational complexities. Pay close attention to NAS device details to ensure that your chosen solution works with your existing systems and networks while remaining scalable.
  • If you need high-capacity, undisrupted data access, redundant system links to ensure data integrity, an ability to reconfigure and/or scale your storage infrastructure, and centralized storage management and backup capability, consider a SAN. iSCSI-based SANs, which are based on IP-friendly Ethernet network technology, are less expensive and complex than Fibre Channel SANs.
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