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What are some flat backup misconceptions?

Flat backup, which is based around storage snapshots, is gaining popularity. But the technology can't protect every resource in an organization. We debunk the top fallacies.

Flat backup has recently begun to gain popularity, although the concept has existed for quite some time. Here are three major misconceptions regarding how a flat backup works.

1. A flat backup can be used with all types of snapshots. Flat backups are based around the use of storage snapshots. Although hypervisor snapshots function in a manner similar to storage snapshots, they won't work for flat backups. Flat backups are intended specifically for use with storage snapshots.

2. A flat backup can protect all of an organization's resources. As previously mentioned, a flat backup is based around the use of storage snapshots. Consequently, flat backups can only protect those resources for which storage snapshots are created. Furthermore, flat backups are vendor proprietary, so not every storage vendor supports their use. Those vendors that support the technology only allow them for specific storage products. So a flat backup will not typically be an option for organizations that use heterogeneous storage hardware.

3. A flat backup provides continuous data protection. In reality, a flat backup is subject to the rate at which snapshots can be created and replicated. While most continuous data protection offerings do not truly provide continuous protection -- they actually perform very frequent, scheduled backups -- they tend to allow for more frequent data protection than a flat backup. The primary advantage to a flat backup offering isn't the frequency of its protection, but its low cost and simplicity.

Next Steps

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Various ways to create a data snapshot

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What issues have you had with flat backup?

I do believe there is a place for flat backups but I don't see that place defined in this article or others I have read on the site. Flat backups are sound bets for operational failures; i.e. server failures or corrupted database, etc.. The tend to be limited because snapshots, in all array types, require processing and memory usage to maintain, this can be a huge burden on a system, especially when you are talking possibly hundreds of snapshots a DAY, and the need to retain them for up to 31 days. That means the storage array is managing possibly 3,000 snapshots a month. Not to mention clones and other snapshots created for gold copy development. In addition, they won't protect you from an increasingly common security breach, where malicious actors compromise storage administration tools and wipe out your arrays.