Data Backup in the 21st century
Data Backup has a long history in the world of computer technology. Which is to say a historical record of about sixty-eight years.
In computer technology, that amount of time can compare to the geological age of the dinosaurs.
In 1951, the first generation of digital computing appeared when the UNIVAC ONE (Universal Automatic Computer) was built by Mauchly and Eckert. It used vacuum tubes as main logic elements, rotating magnetic drums for internal storage of data and programs and punch cards to input and externally store data.
So, punch cards can be considered as the first data storage devices for backup.
I know, I know, punch cards are not an exciting topic to read about, so let’s move onto more modern forms of data backup, such as magnetic tape. We could chat about this, too, although the magnetic tape is not very exciting either.
I suppose we could go on and chat about recent technology, cloud storage, but here too, I don’t think anyone would keep reading this post unless you’re reading this in bed, and you need something to help you sleep.
Other than that, you probably don’t care about this.
We get it. Here at DTS InfoTech, the customers we serve in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area don’t care about data backup stuff either.
When I say our customers don’t care about it, I’m not saying they don’t care, they do. Of course, they do. They care as in they want it to work. That’s more accurate. Our customers just want it to work. That’s all.
Forget 1951. How does Data Backup in the 21st-century work?
Okay, getting current is more like it and exciting? Yeah, sure it is! We could get really technical here, but again no one would read this article. But you must know this information.
Okay, time to get serious. Data backup is a very important topic. Why?
As a business owner or business manager, you are responsible for the day to day operations of your business. Again, you must know this information.
That said, what would you do – right now - if your company data was destroyed, or stolen, or locked up by a hacker? Seriously, what would you do?
Do you even know what to do?
With no data, how would you serve your customers? Answer - without data, you would not be able to service your customers. Your customers would be forced to wait around until you got back online, or worse--head to your competition. If they do that, you stand a good chance of never seeing them again.
So, what would you do? Your knowledge about data backup is the question. You must answer now.
Answer this question before a disaster happens. Based upon our considerable experience, we can tell you with certainty that you better be prepared before a disaster visits your business. If you don’t, you’ll be sorry.
21st-century data backups.
Modern data backups are a world away from punch cards. Today, they are primarily known as file backups and image-based backups.
First, file backups.
File backups will back up each file on your PC, but not the applications that created them. If you did not set up your file backup to save “all” the documents on your machine, then you won’t be able to restore them.
File backups work. We have used this type of backup numerous times over the years – and still do - so we’ll say it again, file backups work. But saying they work is only part of the story.
The other part of the story is how long it will take you to get your business up and running during a disaster using this backup technology and method.
The criticism of file backups is that they take too long to complete a system restore.
Taking too long to do a restore is bad, but years ago, when this was all we had, we didn’t know it was bad. We were just happy that we even had a backup of the precious data.
But times have changed.
Technology has been forced to go faster and keep up with the world. Why? Because the world keeps going faster and faster, and businesses must keep up. Either you keep up, or your customers will be forced to go to your competition who can keep up.
The time during a disaster is critical for most businesses. But time is precious, and a business does not have near enough of it during and after a disaster.
Finally, Image-based backups.
Image-based backups are just what the name states: an image created of your entire computer operating system, including files, executable programs, and operating system configurations.
With an image backup, you can restore a single file, directory, or entire disk to the same computer or another one, or a virtual machine in minutes. You might not know it, but this is critical.
You can backup to different onsite or offsite devices, such as network-attached hard drives and Network-Attached Storage.
What makes image-based backups so desirable is that unlike file backups, image-based backups are lightning fast to use. Speed is not hyperbole.
What used to take days to accomplish can now be accomplished in minutes. Minutes is not hyperbole either. For some businesses, even minutes of downtime is unacceptable. We support businesses like this.
Major benefits of Image-based backups.
The global scourge of Ransomware is stopped dead in its tracks when image files are available to restore in the event of a Ransomware attack. Ransom is never paid. Businesses are never shut down when image-based backups are professionally deployed.
With image files and the technical expertise required to employ them, businesses are not held hostage to criminals trying to destroy them. Being held hostage is no exaggeration, either.
How do image-based backups work?
We’re not going to tell you! You can relax. How they work is too technical for most folks, and like our customers, you probably don’t care about it either.
So, we’ll use an oversimplified analogy to convey the basic idea of how image-based backups work. The analogy is that of copying a Word document on a copy machine. The analogy, by definition, is not completely accurate, but you’ll get the idea.
Imagine copying a paper document.
Back in the day – and still to this very day - if you wanted an extra copy of a Word document, you just took the 8½ x 11 original document over to the copy machine and pressed the Copy button. In seconds the copy exits out of the copier and onto the tray hanging off of the end of the copy machine.
The copy is an exact duplicate of the original Word document you just copied.
Copier technology is so good – to this day - that it can be impossible to tell the difference between the original document and the copy. Many documents have COPY stamped on them, so the reader of the document knows they are not reading the source document.
Knowing the difference between an original document and a copy is important in many professions.
Of course, Image file backups are different, yet similar in this analogy. They are better! Why?
An image file backup is a verifiably-exact image (think of the copy machine analogy) of your entire computer operating system, including files, executable programs, and operating system configurations.
And it's this entire operating system, including files, executable programs, and operating system configurations that are so important in quickly recovering from a disaster. Why?
Because of the time you save and the quality of the data you restore.
Your image file backup is an exact copy of the system it came from.
So, when you restore that backup copy to another computer, it is the exact system you used to use. No data has been lost, and the new system now runs, looks, and acts exactly like the old one. You will not be able to tell that computer apart, operationally, from the old computer that was disabled.
It’s similar, in an exact sense, to the copied Word document with the COPY stamp on it.
Image-based backups are that good.
Again, this is an oversimplified analogy, but it gets the idea across better than any technical explanation.
Yes, file backups work. We’ve used them successfully for years, and we’ve always been thankful we had them. But image file backups, because they are exact and complete and extremely fast to use, are far superior, in our opinion.
The way IT Services used to restore data.
Back in the day, when a computer crashed, and we had to restore it so it could be used again, we would pull a replacement computer off of the shelf, or we would purchase a new one. A new computer is good, but at that point in the restoration process, the new computer had no data on it. We weren’t finished restoring it – we had only just begun - and the new computer was not ready to be used at this time.
It would take much more time to get it ready to use.
We still had to configure it for the user who would be using it. But it could take hours to configure properly so it even could be used. Windows needs to be updated with the latest security patches. Application programs such as word processors and browsers need to be installed. Databases or other line-of-business programs must be reinstalled. Printers reinstalled. The configuration is essentially done by hand. That is, a technician has to configure the computer.
To “recover quickly” you must think in terms of files, executable programs, and operating system configurations, not just data backup.
Even with computers, configuration takes time to do. We still do it for customers who have this older technology. It works. It’s way better than nothing. But it's very slow. It’s old school and very time consuming, and during a disaster this process places a lot of pressure on a company. The pressure of downtime, financial loss, and damage to your reputation is painful and can be very costly.
Image file backups and data restoration, properly executed by technicians, resolve all of these issues in minutes — not hours and days.
So how do image-based backups work?
We’re still not going to tell you! It’s too technical for most folks. Most people don’t really need to know exactly how their car’s engine works—just that it does.
Instead, we’re going to list the Top Five Benefits of Image-based Backups. Benefits are real-world stuff everyone can understand. It demonstrates how valuable this newer technology is.
Top Five Benefits of Image-based Backups.
1. Faster recovery of entire systems or individual files - Downtime can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars every minute. In an outage or disaster, seconds count. The faster you can recover, the faster you can get back to taking care of customers and being productive.
2. Recovery - even to dissimilar hardware or bare metal - If a server is damaged or destroyed, you can’t afford to wait for a replica to ship from a warehouse on the opposite coast of the United States. Image-based backup allows you to restore data, applications and operating systems from the backup server to a new or repaired server of any make and model, down to the “bare metal”.
3. Local and online backup - Downtime can cost thousands of dollars every minute. In an outage or disaster, seconds count. The faster you can recover, the faster you can get back to taking care of customers and being productive. Image-based backup allows you to recover individual files or entire workstations or servers in the exact state they were at the moment in time you choose.
4. Remote recovery - If you have branch offices and you’re relying on traditional backup methods, you’re putting the entire organization at risk. Either you’re paying for IT staff to travel to perform maintenance and backup, or you’re relying on nontechnical staff to perform tasks outside their capabilities.
5. The ability to manage remote offices from a central location - Managing branch offices can be one of the biggest challenges the IT department faces. It either involves constant travel for IT admins, relying on untrained staff to perform technical tasks or taking risks, and living with the same frustrations and inefficiencies that come with having no IT staff at all. The ability to manage remote offices from a central location ensures that all of your locations run as efficiently as your headquarters. With image-based backups, IT staff can maintain the same high standards of backup and recovery for remote and branch offices that they do for the main office.
Get Image-based backups and Disaster Recovery as a Service with DTS InfoTech and Datto.
DTS is very good at restoring data for businesses that have been the victim of an attack, or internal mistakes of losing data. Seriously, we are, and we can prove it. We like being heroes!
We also know how intimidating technology can be, we make a living helping business owners and managers just like you who have questions about all things technology, and that includes data backup and disaster recovery.
Most small businesses do not have the technical resources or time to understand all this geek stuff. If this describes you, let us help you.
If you would like more information about Image-based backups and disaster recovery as a service give us a call, we’re always happy to chat, and the call is free, every time you call!
Dedicated to your success,
Business Development Manager
dts|infotech . . . secure computer networks that work