[Image courtesy of the Bart Simpson Chalkboard Wallpaper Generator]

Our marketing group forwarded me a note from someone that they sent an e-mail to that read

Gosh; my home computer backs up all by itself once an hour with Time Machine.  At work, my employer backs up my desktop machine over the WAN once a day and I never even know it.  I don’t see how it could get any easier, but thanks for writing.

I loved this note – because it epitomizes how data protection should work.  At the same time, I thought that it illustrated some pretty important points.  At Unitrends, we’re focused on a different demographic – companies that have not only a PC or a Mac but at least one server as well.

What this note focuses on more than anything else is that the point of “backup” isn’t really backup, it’s recovery.  The lamest thing in the world is to have perfect backups and not be able to recover – that’s worse than no backup at all because at least then you didn’t spend the time and energy to do the worthless backup in the first place!

Lets’s start with Time Machine.  It’s a really elegant little appliance to backup other Apple products.  It is designed for the home or the SOHO (Small Office Home Office) market, and does a pretty darned good job there.  I have one myself (note: I have a ton of backup appliances from both Unitrends and a lot of other vendors.)  I have only two major issues with Time Machine.  First, it only handles Apple products and I live in a “mixed” household at home.  Second, it doesn’t do bare metal let alone any type of “instant recovery” – so when my Mac hard drive died I had to put in a new one, re-install, and then restore from the Time Machine.  That’s okay if you can live with the downtime.

Now let’s talk about backup over the WAN from the desktop perspective.  The question you always want to ask about this is how long it takes to recover – not just your data, but your system.  And of course, as a user of far-away servers, SANs, NASs, applications, and all sorts of things – you want your overworked and underappreciated network administrator (or server administrator, or storage administrator, etc.) to create an environment in which you simply don’t worry about failure – ever.  This is tough.  This is what Unitrends (and other companies/products such as Symantec/Backup Exec, Symantec/Netbackup, CommVault/Simpana, IBM/Tivoli, etc.) do.