Why Backup and Recovery Is Critical for Your Organization

Much has already been written about data and its significance in the current digital economy. Data remains one of the most valuable assets for a business today since losing it can render irreversible damage in terms of productivity, revenue, reputation, and customer loyalty and satisfaction. That’s why keeping it protected and consistently available has become the core goal of every business. After all, it will be naive to rely on chance and wait until a considerable data loss occurs to take protective measures.

This holds especially true in the new business landscape, where an organization’s data footprint rapidly expands from on-site data centers to hybrid and multicloud environments. While the cloud provides a compelling alternative to traditional on-premises architecture by enhancing collaboration, productivity and scalability, the risk of losing data in the cloud must not be overlooked. Diverse factors can result in cloud data loss, whether it be natural disasters, malicious external threats or slight human errors. According to the 2022 Thales Cloud Security Study, 45% of surveyed organizations experienced a data breach involving data in the cloud.

This is where a robust data backup and recovery plan can come in to save the day. It can help you create strong copies of your business information, which can be recovered in the event of data loss. A solid backup and recovery plan can help you survive, or even thrive, in the face of such unexpected events.

What is backup and recovery?

Backup and recovery is the process of duplicating and storing information in a secure place so that it can be later restored to use in operations. Techopedia defines backup and recovery as the “process of backing up data in case of a loss and setting up systems that allow that data recovery due to data loss.” Data backup is the safest way to ensure your information still exists elsewhere in the event of data loss. You can swiftly restore your business-critical data and return to business as usual.

What is the purpose of backup and recovery?

It is imperative to acknowledge that any server can crash, anyone can make errors and a cyberattack can occur at any time. The primary goal of backup and recovery is to protect data, such as files, folders and databases, from such threats and ensure data restoration. In the case of a primary data failure due to hardware/software failure, data corruption, external threats or accidental deletion, backup copies will allow the restoration of the data from an earlier point in time to aid the business in recovering from the unexpected event.

How does backup and recovery work?

The primary objective of backup and recovery is to protect the integrity of business-critical data and restore operations swiftly in the event of data loss. An organization’s scalability, data security and physical distance (required between the production infrastructure and backup) requirements determine how the backup is performed, how often it is done, where it is stored and how long it should be retained.

An organization can opt for different backup and recovery models in its infrastructure strategy. For instance, you can back up your on-premises and cloud data in either on-premises data centers or the cloud. Similarly, to minimize the amount of data lost between two backups, backup jobs may leverage different strategies (i.e., incremental forever) to take backups and synthesize backup copies more consistently. Backup data specifications, roles and responsibilities, and schedule and frequency should also be determined for an effective backup and recovery plan.

What is the difference between backup and recovery?

The main difference between the backup and recovery functions is that the backup process duplicates and securely protects your production data so you can use it later when you need it. Meanwhile, recovery is the process that helps you retrieve and restore that backed-up data to your production systems in the event of data loss so that you can avoid business downtime.

Reliable backup and swift recovery processes together ensure business reliance and form a pivotal part of a robust business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan.

What should a backup and recovery plan include?

A backup and recovery plan is essentially an outlined framework for implementing backup and recovery within an organization. While there is no predefined and universal template for it, there are several things to consider while devising one. A comprehensive backup and recovery plan will encompass everything related to data backup and recovery, including the identification of data that must be backed up, the hardware, operating systems and software components included in the process, the types of backups involved, the automation of backup and recovery tools, the retention and rotation strategies, and so on.

Roles and responsibilities

Crafting a backup and recovery strategy doesn’t end once you’ve established a method for taking backups. Backup and recovery management involves a whole range of functions, like planning and testing responses to different types of data losses, configuring the environment for backup and recovery, setting up a schedule for backup, complete monitoring of the environment, troubleshooting issues and restoring data when the need arises. Clear roles and responsibilities must be assigned to ensure the corresponding team intervenes appropriately.

Backup data

You should back up any data that you have to protect. All the necessary data for your server workloads, like documents, configuration files, media files, operating systems and registry files, must be backed up to ensure they stay available in the event of data loss or downtime.

Backup schedule

Having a definite and regular schedule for backing up your data is essential. Ideally, the frequency between your backups shouldn’t exceed the time you are willing to spend on any rework due to the lost data. If you back up your data only once a year, you will lose all the data between those backups in the case of an outage. The best practice is thus to back up the data at regular intervals.

Also, it would be best to consider the impact running backups will have on production workloads. It is better to create a schedule that doesn’t risk interfering with your business hours, such as running regular backups outside working hours.

Backup technique

At its core, backups can be classified into three groups depending on the storage medium.

  • Hardware: The traditional way of backing up data is by setting up your own data centers, where you store data in the servers you control. In this case, you are in charge of access and privacy to the data center and can manage the server hardware accordingly. However, this approach’s downside is that your hardware’s capacity limits you. Every time you need to increase the storage and the workload it can handle, you will have to upgrade your servers. Without a strategy to create redundant backup copies, if any damage happens to these servers, you risk losing all your data.
  • Software: Backup software is also a type of local backup that will help you copy your files, folders, applications and operating system on external hardware. While the software is sometimes integrated with the hardware, it can also run separately. Tape was the most commonly used hardware in such backups until the emergence of disk-based hardware in the early 2000s. While software-based backup solutions are scalable, they rely upon the flexibility and scalability of the local hardware. Associated servers, storage devices and storage media (i.e., removable HDDs) must be managed and maintained by the organization in the long run.
  • Cloud: Cloud backup, also called online backup, backs up your data and sends it over a proprietary or public network to a remote server. Cloud-based backup has been soaring in popularity recently thanks to its flexibility and scalability. Unlike the on-site backup options, cloud backup does not have the hefty data center footprint and maintenance costs. These services are available over the WAN and can often be accessed from anywhere remotely. However, cloud backups can face security and latency issues if not appropriately managed. Nevertheless, cloud backup has become an indispensable part of the backup and recovery strategies of modern organizations.

Backup type

You can dictate the strategy by which you create backups by utilizing one or several of the following backup methods:

  • Full: The full backup takes a complete copy of all the data on a particular host or a set of hosts. Full backup creates a backup for all information you wish to secure, including files and folders, hard drives/in-use disk regions, operating systems, system metadata, application data and more. The more recently a full backup has been executed, the easier it gets to restore data during a data loss event. However, since everything is backed up in one go, it takes longer to back up data than the other backups.
  • Differential: In this case, not all the data is copied except for the altered, created or updated information since the last full backup. Simply put, after an initial full backup, subsequent differential backups are performed to back up all the changes that have happened to the data since then. While differential backup is much faster and takes less space than full backups, too many differential backups being performed between full backups risk differential backups growing larger in size than the original full backup.
  • Incremental: The incremental backup only stores data that has changed since the last backup, whether full, differential or incremental. The major advantage of incremental backup is that it takes the least time to complete and uses storage space effectively. However, data restoration can be time-consuming if the chain of incremental backups isn’t efficiently managed since data must be compiled together from various backups.

Backup storage

Backed-up data can either be stored on-premises or in the cloud, depending on the type of backup leveraged. Keeping on-premises and in the cloud both have pros and cons, meaning organizations have to make an informed choice regarding which one to opt for. Notably, more and more enterprises have started using both the on-premises and cloud storage together for optimum results.

Backup procedures

Organizations must ensure a successful procedure for backup is implemented and duly followed by the concerned teams. With a predetermined purpose and scope, the set of backup procedures should cater to the complete range of backup functions, including the creation of backup copies, their storage in multiple sites and regular testing of the backup environment.

Recovery objectives

For an efficient backup and recovery strategy, an organization must first define its two critical recovery objectives: recovery point objective and recovery time objective.

  • Recovery point objective (RPO): The RPO defines the maximum amount of data an organization can stand to lose following a data breach or outage. Let’s say the last available data backup for a business following a data loss is from 20 hours ago. If the RPO for the business is 24 hours, then the data loss is still tolerable according to the organization’s business continuity plan.
  • Recovery time objective (RTO): The RTO defines the maximum period an organization sets before it restores normal operations in the case of a data loss or outage. In other words, RTO is an organization’s time to recover after being notified of a business disruption.

Recovery type

There are different types of recovery for different types of data. Let’s have a look at a few of them.

  • File/Folder/Object recovery: It involves granular recoveries of files, folders or objects. This process is best suited when you have to quickly restore one or several specific data sets from backup volumes.
  • Image recovery: Image-based backups protect physical server assets at the disk volume level, capturing data from the in-use regions of the disk or volume, independent of individual file read-writes. Images may be used to restore the image, such as a Windows server, to the original host or a different host (which may be a virtual machine).
  • Virtual machine disk recovery: This process restores all data and applications on a virtual machine, such as a VMware VMDK, to the original VM host or an alternate host.
  • Bare metal recovery (BMR): This process enables users to restore data from file- or image-level backups to a physical server or virtual machine target. BMR enables the recovery of backups onto dissimilar hardware.
  • Instant recovery: This process enables rapid recovery of virtual machines (i.e., VMware ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V) by utilizing the backup appliance as a temporary datastore. This enables the appliance to quickly inject data into a mounted share rather than rebuilding it on the target datastore. Once the VM is booted, the location of the virtual disk is migrated off the appliance as a passive background operation.
  • Replicas: This process creates a standby copy of an asset, such as a VM stored in an alternate location or on an alternate host. The replica is updated with every backup. The replica may be turned on and connected to the production network for immediate use when required.

Recovery procedures

Recovery procedures are established to reliably and swiftly restore the data backups. Recovery procedures have to dictate the whole process, from determining the date and time of lost data to evaluating the integrity of restored data.

Testing and review process

Testing and review are critical to the complete BCDR plan. The testing and review process assesses the effectiveness of an organization’s backup and recovery procedures and its ability to restore data when needed. Insufficient testing and review leave the business vulnerable to data loss and downtime.

Why is data backup and recovery important?

Backup and recovery have a critical role in an organization’s BCDR strategy. Having a reliable backup and restore plan helps businesses recover business-critical information swiftly in case of an unfortunate event. Since any delay in recovering this crucial data could drastically impact the business, a solid backup and recovery plan is essential for an organization’s survival.

Notably, today, it’s not a matter of “if” but rather “when?” a data breach would occur. According to Statista, the annual share of ransomware attacks experienced by organizations worldwide has been on the rise since 2018, peaking at a whopping 71% in 2022. Amid such an ever-burgeoning threat landscape, a robust data backup and recovery strategy will keep your business afloat, no matter what data threats you encounter.

What are the benefits of backup and recovery?

There are many reasons why an organization must invest in its data backup and recovery strategy.

  • Data security and integrity: Data is essentially the lifeblood of organizations today and protecting it will invariably help a business survive — and even thrive — in the new normal. It helps you secure your data from a wide range of data threats and aids you in staying compliant with the various industry standards and regulations.
  • Business continuity: Backup and recovery is a key pillar in the business continuity strategy of an organization. Having business-critical data readily available in the event of a data loss will help your organization do away with downtime. It will help your business to return to normalcy as quickly as possible.
  • Reputation management: Having a reliable backup and recovery plan is also crucial for the overall success of your business. Losing your customer data to a cyberattack can drastically affect your business reputation and make you lose out to the competition. A solid backup and recovery plan could make or break your brand reputation.
  • Compliance maintenance: Beyond ensuring your data is available for recovery, backup and recovery also help in complying with security audits and industry regulations. It will prevent your organization from straying into the out-of-compliance zone, helping you avoid the hefty penalties and legal fines associated with it.
  • Peace of mind: What’s more compelling than the peace of mind a reliable backup and recovery strategy offers you? Knowing that your business-critical data is safe and secure from the reach of bad guys will help you maintain IT peace of mind all the time, enabling you to focus on other important business-oriented tasks.

Backup and recovery with Unitrends

With the ongoing transition to a hybrid work culture and the increasing advent of remote and cloud workloads, cloud backup has become a priority for organizations. Its flexibility, cost-effectiveness and ease to use makes it an ideal choice for enterprises, especially when the organizational data footprint is expanding rapidly. However, don’t put all your eggs (i.e., backups) in one basket. What if your internet connectivity fails when you try to access an online backup? Since the cloud relies on internet connectivity, it will drastically affect your RTO. That’s why it is advisable to leverage the combination of online and on-site backups. When they are combined, you get an unprecedented level of accessibility and security.

Unitrends provides you with a one-stop shop for all your backup and recovery needs, both on-site and online, enabling you to comprehensively protect your data wherever it resides.

Notably, Unitrends’ portfolio of backup appliances, pre-configured with hardware, software and networking, are turn-key devices that will make your data protection effortless. Leaning on cutting-edge technology, they automate manual tasks, eliminate management hassles, and deliver faster and more efficient data protection. Their automated regulatory compliance allows you to meet your RTO, RPO and retention requirements in one easy step.

Sized from 2TB to 120TB, you can get a Unitrends backup appliance that fits your needs and budget. As your business grows, you can easily scale up, out or to the cloud. Get started now and learn more about the powerful capabilities of Unitrends’ enterprise backup and continuity solutions.


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