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How Do You Backup Your Data?

Displaying poll results.
External Hard Drive
  4947 votes / 49%
USB / Flash Drive
  377 votes / 3%
  248 votes / 2%
Online Service
  691 votes / 6%
Internal Hard Drive
  824 votes / 8%
Online Service
  413 votes / 4%
  854 votes / 8%
I Don't
  1542 votes / 15%
9896 total votes.
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  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
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How Do You Backup Your Data?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 28, 2013 @11:21PM (#42722607)

    I ask that, because most people who are running tape for backups, have NEVER even tried to restore a whole server off tape.

    Rule number one. If the data is important to you, back it up. If it's important enough to backup, it's important enough to run periodic restore tests - which will expose issues like this. Any well designed backup software package will have features that make sure data is kept in a form that is reasonably quick and easy to restore.

    Slow restore times from tape indicate a system that hasn't been tested and tweaked. Speaking with my professional hat on (I do backup and recovery for a living), well over 90% of the restores I've been asked to do have been for single files that were accidentally deleted. In this context, full restore time doesn't matter. Over 80% of the remainder have been for sets of files - a subset of the full dataset on the server. The balance were all disaster recovery tests.

    That said, there are circumstances where you simply can't restore quickly. Any system that has millions (if not billions) of tiny files represents a pathological case that no backup system will handle well. Best option in this case if full system recovery time is important is to backup the filesystem as an image, which brings its own issues - like not being able to restore individual files if necessary. And note that this applies no matter how the data is stored on the backend, whether it be tape, disk, optical media, punched cards, stone tablets ...

    Finally, regarding "it was disasterous because we didn't have a exact copy of the hardware, and couldn't find it". Full system restores, especially in the Windows space, are notorious for this issue; it isn't specific to tape backup. Furthermore, I don't know of any backup/recovery system that allows for cross-architecture restores (where, by "cross architecture", I mean Windows to Unix, Unix to Windows, and such like. Plenty of systems will allow recovery of, say, HP-UX data to an AIX box. Of course, whether that data is useful depends on whether the application that handles the data is available for the new platform ...)

    Oh, and the bonus comment. Regarding:

    If you're using tape, it is bacause your time isn't worth anything or you don't have that much data. You're still better off burning to Archval quality DVDs

    That shows a clear ignorance of the role of tape in the data centre. Is that role getting smaller? Yes. Definitely. I've seen customers using tape that would have been better off shovelling the data onto hard disks. But it's not non-existent, and it isn't going to go away completely. There are things that tape can do that disk simply can't do (like sitting around on a shelf, ready for access inside a couple of minutes, yet not needing any power while they're doing so.) And hey, "archval (sic) quality DVDs"? They only hold 9 GB of data. If you say BD, that brings it up to a whopping 50 GB. Call it 200 GB if you want. I have worked for companies where their main database was multiple terabytes in size; managing a half dozen tapes was far easier than shuffling around dozens of optical discs would have been. A lot cheaper, too - a 1.5 TB LTO5 cartridge (no compression) costs around $50, whereas a single BD-R (25 GB) costs $2.50. Per GB, the LTO5 cartridge is a third the price - and that's before considering the volume you have to cart around (60 discs versus a single cart? I know which I'd prefer.)

    Tape drives are expensive? Guess what - so are BD recordable drives.

    I definitely agree with you on disaster recovery and business continuity planning, though. That's something too many businesses don't think about. This, however, is somewhat orthogonal to the question of backups; although good backups can form a part of disaster recovery planning, they don't necessarily have to, and there are questions that need to be answered that aren't a part of backup system design. (like, for example, whether or not to have spare hardware sitting offside ready to run; power questions; and other such matters.)

"A car is just a big purse on wheels." -- Johanna Reynolds


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