04.07.2022 10:37 am

On the differences between toasters and mass storage – some backup issues

Mass storage and toasters have one thing in common: they break down occasionally. But if such an issue befalls your toaster it at worst results in a less tasty breakfast, but the consequences of a hard drive or SSD crash can be incomparably more dramatic. In the very worst case scenario irreplaceable data is lost forever. But it is not only the limited useful life of all technical products that represents a risk to private and business data, there are innumerable other threats in the otherwise blessing of the internet. Viruses and Trojan horses can steal or delete information, and ransomware can prevent access to data and whole systems and only release it again on payment of a ransom.

This threat scenario can however be mitigated with a relatively simple measure: a regular backup of the whole data stock, i.e. creation of a copy of the data in a system that can be used for an immediate restoration, the so-called restore, if the worst comes to the worst.

But not all backups are the same. The market provides an almost limitless range of data backup solutions and tools, all of which differ in some crucial details. In addition, simply having appropriate software and hardware is insufficient for a really effective backup strategy. In addition, each user must think about what, how, how often and where the storage needs to take place.

The good news: For private users setting up such a strategy is much less complicated than for administrators in a company who are responsible for the integrity of the data sets used. We have summarised the key steps below:


What should I back up?
Of course you can keep it simple and back up the whole computer. But depending on the backup method and quantity of data that can take a long time. It is usually more appropriate to identify the important folders and files (all of them!) and select them for regular backup.


How should I back up?
Users have the choice between three basic backup processes. On the one hand there is complete backup that secures the whole data medium. The process is so uncomplicated that you cannot even refer to this as a strategy, but has the disadvantage stated above that it takes a lot of time and storage space. There is also the option of differential backup. Here all data is initially backed up but then only the data that has changed since the last backup. Finally for incremental backup there is first a full backup and then only the changes made since the last backup are stored no matter whether this is full backup or differential backup.


How often should I back up?
After deciding on the scope, the next question is the frequency of the backup. In the event of a data disaster, everything that was created between the last backup and the time of the failure is lost. In companies with massive data sets administrators operate in this regard with such factors as the Recovery Point Objective (RPO), the maximum period that you are willing to lose data on a system due to an event, and the Recovery Time Objective (RTO), the time that passes from the moment of a disaster to the potential return to normal operations. For private users the situation is much simpler: we recommend continuous backups that run in the background so that the changes to the data are recorded and backed up every five minutes.


Where do I back up to?
Those responsible for IT in companies have a very complex task when it comes to this question. They can choose between so-called hardware appliances or pure software solutions, tape drives, hybrid backup solutions, backup drives, local and USB hard drives, NAS drives and of course the omnipresent cloud – all with significant differences in terms of the relevant RPO and RTO. For private users the choice of appropriate backup options is usually smaller but here too good backup solutions support a range of storage devices: HDDS, SSDs, USB drives, cloud storage, NAS and NDAS, SMB and FTP, DVDs and memory cards.


And then there is another matter that should be considered …
It is certainly a fantastic feeling when you are able to quickly and completely restore your personal and business data using current backups if something does occur. But what is the backup itself is corrupt? In such a case, only a solution that ensures that the data to be backed up cannot be affected in the first place will help. And the only solution that is able to do this is called Acronis Cyber Protect. It stops cyber attacks using behavioural analysis and AI-based defence technology in real-time, guarantees secure access to websites and ensures the privacy of participants during video conferences.

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