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offsite backup disaster recovery

If It’s Not Offsite, It’s Not Disaster Recovery

by Maggie Getova

One of the basic elements of disaster recovery is having a reliable offsite data recovery solution in case your office building gets damaged in a disaster. Everyone should have offsite backup and restore plans in place, but the reality is that a significant number do not.

Our State of Backup Survey revealed that 15% of organizations have no offsite disaster recovery solution to protect data against a serious disaster. Maybe they just like living life on the edge. As fun as that may be, we like to err on the side of caution and have a deep respect for things like well-padded helmets, knee pads, and solid disaster recovery plans.

Among the 85% of organizations that DO have disaster recovery plans, not all are in equally good shape. Tape and appliance backup are common DR solutions right now, but they’re actually not as reliable as you might think for disaster-type scenarios.

Tape for Disaster Recovery: The Human Error Factor

So you’ve designated tape as your offsite backup solution. Say you’re doing weekly tape backups of your data and are sending those tapes to an offsite location for storage every Friday. Your tapes find their way to the depths of a mountain somewhere. You are DR-ready!

Unfortunately there are some drawbacks involved. You accumulate more and more data every day throughout that week. What happens if an earthquake shakes up your office building Thursday night? If your primary server is destroyed, and all your backup copies along with it, then that whole week’s data could be lost. The longer it takes between when a backup is made and when it’s transferred offsite, the more opportunity there is for a site disaster to wipe out data while it’s still on-premise. This is why it should be sent safely offsite at least once a day.

Since it requires manual effort, tape can also take a lot of time to organize, manage and restore from – and is also really vulnerable to human error. Put these factors together and you’ve got the recipe for a disaster recovery nightmare:  the last thing you want to hear when you’re trying to restore a server post-disaster is that somebody forgot to change the tape.

Disaster Recovery with Appliance: Time’s Not on Your Side

Maybe you have an appliance that backs up your data to the cloud. The cloud component automatically makes it offsite DR. Problem solved, right? Unfortunately, appliances also come with their own considerable drawbacks.

Because appliances aren’t built with the primary focus of transferring data over the Internet, they tend not to be very speedy at doing it. If you’ve got a lot of data to back up (and let’s face it – who doesn’t?) and your appliance takes three days to back that data up and transfer it to the cloud, then all of that data has become seriously vulnerable to being lost in a disaster.

The biggest issue with using appliance as a disaster recovery solution is that if it becomes damaged in a disaster, you have to get another one before you can recover your data and get back to business. Your vendor will most likely overnight  you a replacement appliance as soon as possible,  but this still introduces a multi-day delay before your data is restored. That’s multiple days of downtime, where aspects of the business reliant on that data simply can’t function. And if there is one thing we know for sure, it’s that business downtime can be a killer.

Cloud Backup: Getting Reliable, Automated Offsites

So what does reliable DR actually come down to? Being offsite at ALL times. If a tornado, earthquake, and Independence-Day-style-White-House-esque explosion hit your office at the same time, you want to be able to recover your ALL data, as quickly as possible. Reliable DR has to be sent offsite as quickly as possible, and as frequently as possible. The longer your data stays onsite, the longer it stays vulnerable (and the MORE of it becomes vulnerable). While your backup frequency depends on your RPOs (how much data your organization can afford to lose), we highly recommend backing up your data at least once a day no matter which backup solution you choose.

Tape and appliance may drag behind, but the cloud will be there any time you need it.

Maggie Getova
Maggie G

Maggie is a content writer and editor at Zetta. She writes for the blog and manages web content.