Small Business Data Backup | PREVENT | by Exigent Technologies (Part 4 of 5)
Okay, so let’s talk about tape versus disk and why disk is favored over tape. As I said earlier, tape is 20 year old plus technology and the reality is that it comes with many shortcomings. It has done us well for many years when there was nothing else available, but it does have many, many shortcomings. So what we want to try to do here is outline the advantages and disadvantages of tape technology over disk space technology. Well, no one would argue that tape is favored for portability, right? Many of the smaller businesses out there today usually employ the services of a trusted employee to shuttle the tapes offsite for safekeeping or into a fireproof box or other offsite location like a home or other place. Larger companies sometimes hire a company for this.
In fact, one of the disadvantages to disk is the lack of portability, right? The last thing you want to do is drop a hard drive on the concrete pavement. Hard drives, as you all know, are not known for their shock resistant characteristics. So, yeah, tape does have one advantage in terms of portability, right? We can pop them out and stick them in our purse, but as you see here on the slides there aren’t many other advantages to tape, and in terms of the most important feature which is reliability, disk is going to be far superior due to the fact that we can have multiple disks, or arrays as we call them, to protect against a failure.
Lifespan is another key factor here. Some of you may not know this, but tapes do have a limited lifespan, so you might want to think about when the last time you replaced your tapes was. They do need to be replaced. Just think about that old 8-track tape or VCR cassette, right? After your kids watch Barney or a Disney movie, you know, 50 or 100 times, the quality of the picture clearly deteriorates. Why is that? It’s the same technology that’s used in tape backup. And, of course, speed is a key factor as well. So in terms of speed, tape versus disk, it’s sorta like comparing a turtle to a rabbit. It’s not even in the same realm. Disk is going to be a lot faster. So we’re not going to go into all of these, but here again we see that disk offers clear advantages over tape.
So, okay, now we’ve gone through all this and we know that tape is just, it’s going to be obsolete, it’s not the best option for us anymore. So the question becomes what exactly or how exactly do you put together a rock solid system for backup and faster recovery for our data? So, let’s look at the components of what an ironclad solution looks like. First off, your tape backup probably kicks off once per night, and one of the problems with that is what if someone deletes something or, you know, a folder containing lots of files at 12 noon. So you certainly can’t go back to the tape that ran at 1 AM the previous morning to get that data back, so the frequency of the backups should certainly be more than every 24 hours.
Second, we need to take that set it and forget it mentality of tape backup software off the table for good. The operation of maintaining the backups is too important to leave to mechanics and software alone. Your backup system itself should be monitored every single day, all the time, to ensure that the backup processes are indeed working and that the data can in fact be restored at a moment’s notice.
Third, this is a technical concept, so bear with me, the backup should be done at the block level not at the file level. So for the technical folks on the call, you already know what this means. I won’t bother explaining these concepts here, but suffice it to say that the block level backup is far superior and it’s a more complete method of backing up.
Next, the backup is encrypted. This means that in the event that your data backup is stolen, it’s completely unusable to the thief. Without the proper passwords the data can’t even be deciphered. This is becoming more and more important as companies are getting sued lately for leaking customer or patient or personal data by not taking reasonable steps to protect that data. For example, someone in your company takes the tape backup home in their briefcase and then leaves it on the subway platform. Two weeks later you find yourself at the wrong end of a lawsuit when it’s determined that someone has the names, addresses and social security numbers of all your clients or patients.
Fail over and bare metal restore. An ironclad backup system is not only going to backup your data, but it’s also going to let you fail over to a hot spare, if you will, allowing you to continue running your business very quickly in the event of a failure. And better yet, if your server’s completely destroyed or needs hardware repairs, your backup system will let you restore your backup to dissimilar hardware, allowing you to rebuild your server as it originally was in no time at all with little or no configuration at all. So that means in the event of a catastrophic failure where the server needs to be replaced, you can still run your business while the server is down and then restore to the new server. With tape backup that’s going to be a huge problem. Unless, rather than relying on a person to shuttle the tapes back and forth from home or wherever off site, having a system that optionally allowed you to send the data off site to a secure facility for safekeeping without any human intervention at all.
So here’s the answer. Exigent Technologies recently partnered with a well-known international publicly traded company to offer their backup solutions, which is sold exclusively to resellers like Exigent.