Learning Guide

Data backup and recovery resources

SearchDataBackup.com's unique data backup and recovery articles, tips and podcasts can help you navigate your way through the process of backing up and recovering your mission-critical data. In this backup and recovery resource

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guide, learn about the most important data backup and recovery topics such as data backup security, data backup testing, data deduplication technology and more.

Why back up your data? Why is it so important? According W. Curtis Preston, TechTarget executive editor and independent backup expert, "you need to think about what lost data will cost you [lost customers, orders, image, budget, morale and time]."

Data is generally regarded as a company's first or second most valuable asset -- right on par with people. Equally important with backing up data is the ability to recover that same data and recover it in a timely fashion to keep your business up and running.

We've compiled the best resources to help you solve your biggest data backup problems and speed up those recovery times.

Table of contents:

>> Backup and recovery basics
>> Testing your backups
>> Tape-based backup
>> Data backup security
>> VMware data protection
>> Data deduplication
>> Advice from our data backup experts

Backup and recovery basics

It's hard to jump feet first into backup if you don't know the basics. Check out W. Curtis Preston's five golden rules for data backup.

Here's a list of our additional articles and guides on backup and recovery basics:

  • In today's IT environment, being in charge of data backup and recovery usually means you're in charge of two things: backup operations and backup administrations. Daily tasks such as making sure backups completed, ejecting tapes from a library and inserting scratch tapes have traditionally been the responsibilities of backup operators. Have you always wanted to know about what other backup admins do on a day-to-day basis? Read this tip to learn about the true role of a backup administrator.
  • Many storage and backup administers often confuse data backup with data archiving. But the two are separate functions and should be treated as such. In this tip by Pierre Dorion, learn about the differences between backup vs. archive.
  • The most common backup types are a full backup, incremental backup and differential backup. Other backup types include synthetic full backups, mirroring, reverse incremental and continuous data protection (CDP). Confused yet? In this tip, learn how to choose the correct data backup type.
  • Virtual tape libraries (VTLs) gained popularity a few years ago because they require no new software and minimum reconfiguration. However, VTLs aren't right for everyone. Learn why VTLs get a mixed review in today's backup and data protection environments. Check out this tip to learn if a virtual tape library is right for your organization.
  • Think you've got your system under control and all of a sudden everything heads south? Make sure this doesn't happen to you. Read this backup and recovery tip to learn about five signs you are headed for a backup disaster.

Testing your backups

"The Symantec Disaster Recovery Research 2007" report says that 48% of the test recoveries run by companies testing disaster recovery plans fail. Disaster recovery is the most extreme kind of backup, but evidence suggests that the failure percentages aren't much lower for basic backups.

Check out our resources on backup testing:

  • Testing is often the missing link in making backups. Too many companies spend a lot of time backing up their data only to find the backups won't work when something goes wrong with their data storage. Check out this tip on backup and recovery basics: backup testing.
  • Backup reporting tools, which are designed specifically to monitor and report on backups can help eliminate nasty recovery surprises. Listen to our podcast with ESG analyst Lauren Whitehouse on  backup reporting.
  • Backup and recovery reporting tools have evolved to include trending and analysis features to better help in planning for backup data growth -- a valuable asset for companies doing backups to tape, and especially for those backing up to disk. SearchDataBackup.com readers gave the trending/analysis features of their backup reporting tools the highest ranking of any of the features we inquired about in a recent survey (average ranking of 3.7 out of 4). In this article, learn more about different features in backup and recovery reporting tools.
  • Dive deeper into backup reporting tools in this tip and learn about what features and functions you'll get in a  backup reporting tool.

Tape-based backup

Data storage pundits have been predicting the demise of tape for years. But tape remains an essential backup and archival solution for many small to midsized businesses (SMBs) and enterprises. Check out our resources on tape-based backup:

  • Cost, scalability, less power consumption and portability -- these are just a few of the advantages of tape. Read about these advantages and more on this tip on tape backup.
  • A tape library is an important and expensive investment. Before you decide on which one to buy, read this tip on 10 things you should ask a vendor before buying a tape library.
  • Don't know the difference between Grandfather-father-son and Tower of Hanoi? Read out tips on the most common tape rotation strategies.
  • This tip explores some of the reasons why backup to tape is still popular, and takes a look at the latest iteration of LTO tape technology, LTO-5. Read out tip on the latest iteration of LTO technology -- LTO-5 tape.

Data backup security

With data breaches constantly in the news, it's important to stay up to date on the latest backup security solutions available. Storage administrators are increasingly relying on tape encryption and other security technologies to guard sensitive data. We've compiled a list of our best backup security articles, videocasts and other learning tools.

  • Data encryption can impact the backup process in any number of ways, depending on how the encryption is done, whether it's with a host-, appliance- or tape-based encryption scheme. Learn about how data encryption can impact network bandwith and backup in this tip.
  • How can you protect your tapes once they leave your hands? In this podcast, get answers today's most common questions about tape encryption.
  • The consideration of when, where and how to employ encryption should only occur after the most critical question has been answered: "Why should I encrypt data?" Read this tip about options for tape drive encryption.
  • Data backups are an essential element of good data storage security, but they're often the source of security woes. In fact, a significant percentage of security breaches can be attributed to the mismanagement and mishandling of data backups. To learn about keeping your backups secure, check out our tutorial on data backup security.

VMware data protection and VMware backup

VMware virtualization is changing data protection today. But in spite of these benefits provided by VMware, there are still many backup challenges to be overcome. We've got the latest articles on VMware backup trends, tools and research.

  • It's safe to say VMware has changed backup and recovery for the better. However, fundamental improvements in the realm of data protection still pose challenges in spite of the benefits of encapsulation and abstraction that VMware offers. Read this tip to learn about three  VMware data backup and restore methods.
  • In the second part of this series on demystifying VMware data protection, learn about data backup products for VMware.
  • In addition to being time-consuming and costly to manage, desktops may create security and data recovery vulnerabilities because they are one of the least protected IT assets. Read this tip about centralizing desktop data protection with VMware VDI.
  • VMware Consolidated Backup is a popular product used by many organizations. Read this article to learn about five things backup administrators should know about  VMware Consolidated Backup.
  • Virtual machine (VM) backup has always been a thorny issues for backup admins. But there have been many data backup and recovery improvements in VMware vSphere. In this tip, learn about how to devise the best VM backup strategy.

Data deduplication

Data deduplication technology is one of the hottest topics in backup today. But there are many misconceptions and myths surrounding data deduplication. We have articles from industry-leading backup experts to help you separate the facts from the hype.

  • Will you be able to achieve the huge data reduction ratios that data deduplication vendors are touting? Get all your questions answered in this podcast on data deduplication.
  • There and several different types of data deduplication technologies and it's hard to decide which one is the best for your organization. In this tip, learn about the pros and cons of file-level vs. block-level deduplication.
  • Many backup admins are so focused on backing data up, they forget how important recovery is. Your backups are useless unless you can recover them -- the same goes with deduped data. Learn about recovering  deduped data in this tip.
  • There are many advantages to using global deduplication. In this tip, learn about the pros and cons of appliances that support  global deduplication.

Advice from our data backup experts

If you have a backup-related questions that wasn't in this guide, we've got you covered. We've compiled a list of questions from SearchDataBackup readers and answers from out experts.

  • Online data backup is becoming a popular alternative to tape-based backup. In this expert response, learn if  online backup services are ready for enterprises.
  • Data backup is just as important to small businesses as it is to larger enterprises. Learn about setting up a  data backup system for SMBs in this response.
  • If you're getting repeated failures from your tape drive, check out this response to learn about what may be causing them. Learn about the main causes of  tape failures.
  • Are laptops and home desktops good candidates for online cloud backup? There are many online cloud backup providers. There are well-known companies like EMC Corp. Mozy, Amazon or Google and some that maybe you haven't heard of like Box.net and Windows Live Mesh. Learn about whether or not online cloud backup is a good solution for mobile backup in this backup and recovery expert's response.

If you have a backup-related question that's not in this guide, you can always ask our  backup experts.

What do you think of this guide? Would you like to see more guides like this? Is anything missing from this page that you'd like to see added? Email us with your thoughts and comments.

This was first published in October 2008

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