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All-in-One-Backup Solutions: Can One Backup Solution Really Do It All?
If you really want to keep your data safe and your business moving forward in any circumstances, you need to create a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that can protect all the systems your business runs on. Your mission-critical business applications are too important to risk on any of the “good enough” all-in-one backup solutions that don’t really allow for a full and rapid recovery.
No single all-in-one backup solution on the market today can meet all the backup and restore needs of any organization that’s running a combination of Windows, Apple, Linux and Unix computers. And while you may not need to replace the backup software you’re already using, it would be wise to augment it with an additional layer of protection.
The good news is, the cost of adding a more effective backup solution may end up being only a fraction of the cost of letting your business sit idle for several hours during a system outage.
So, what’s the problem with the “we-can-backup-everything” solutions? Most of them fall into the category of either data-only backup solutions or image-only backup solutions. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
If your organization has adopted a data-only backup approach, you have total assurance that you’ll be able to bring all your data back online within minutes of a system crash. But as every sysadmin knows, getting to a fully restored application is often the hard part.
To put it another way, even the best data backup in the world is useless unless you have a functioning system onto which you can restore it. But before you can do that, you’ll need to reinstall the Linux operating system on which your business applications run. By the time you have a powered-up server with a working operating system, your business users may have been sitting idle for hours.
If you’re backing up with software that offers “complete system backup,” the chances are good that it’s making image backups—a raw copy of a hard drive which will include the OS, the applications, user data and empty space. You would expect to be able to restore this image back to your server. That usually works in a virtual server environment, but it’s a different matter when you need to replace a physical server and want to restore your system exactly the way it was.
Although vendors often offer plugins for this purpose, it often lacks the robust functionality you’ll need to protect your business fully. If you use an image backup system that offers limited functionality for physical systems running Linux, you’ll struggle in a disaster recovery situation for a complex implementation of a business platform.
Restoring to new hardware
The Achilles heel of image backups is that they require you to restore your system onto the exact same hardware you were using before your crash. If you have changed any of your hardware variables—even slightly—there’s a good chance that your restore won’t work. And if you have new hardware, you may be out of luck due to different disk size, different disk geometry, or different storage controllers or drivers.
Your best alternative
A file-based backup lets you restore your entire system—including your operating system and user data—onto the bare metal of new hardware or virtual machines. Unlike image backup systems, a file-based system backup is flexible enough to let you restore onto different hardware or disk configurations. If there are corrupted files in your backup, a file-based backup allows you to restore individual files as you choose so you can leave them out when you reinstall on your new server.
Here’s the kicker: file-based backup is significantly faster than either data-only or image-only backups, so you can be more secure in meeting your RTO.
To learn more about the value of having a file-based backup system available for your disaster recovery plan—and especially if you are running business-critical applications on Linux or Unix servers—read our white paper Busting a Myth—Can One Backup Solution Really Do It All or call us at (877) 786-7491.