Different Types of Data Backup and Recovery
Effectively backing up your files, networks, servers, and other assets begins with addressing the capabilities of a network and selecting the proper type of backup for the circumstances. The different types of backups available to managed service providers and IT administrators include:
- Full backups – A full backup is the most basic of all backup types. And as its name suggests, it’s also the most comprehensive. In a full data or system backup, all data is copied to another location.
Advantage: A complete copy of all data is available in one location and restoration time is minimal.
Disadvantage: A full backup takes longer to execute than other types of backups.
- Incremental backups – This type only backs up the information that has changed since the last backup occurred.
Advantage: Because only the changed data is being backed up, an incremental backup can be carried out as often as needed. Incremental backups are completed quickly and require fewer resources.
Disadvantage: While incremental backups have the fastest backup time, they also boast the slowest data recovery time.
- Differential backups: Similar to an incremental backup, a differential backup copies all data changed since the last full backup every time it is run.
Advantage: A differential backup provides a way of backing up changed data to the same convenient location as all new data.
Disadvantage: A differential backup requires more time and space to complete.
Normal or Full Backups
When a normal or full backup runs on a selected drive, all the files on that drive are backed up. This, of course, includes system files, application files, user data — everything. Those files are then copied to the selected destination (backup tapes, a secondary drive, or the cloud), and all the archive bits are then cleared.
Normal backups are the fastest source to restore lost data because all the data on a drive is saved in one location. The downside of normal backups is that they take a very long time to run, and in some cases this is more time than a company can allow. Drives that hold a lot of data may not be capable of a full backup, even if they run overnight. In these cases, incremental and differential backups can be added to the backup schedule to save time.
A common way to deal with the long running times required for full backups is to run them only on weekends. Many businesses then run incremental backups throughout the week since they take far less time. An incremental backup will grab only the files that have been updated since the last normal backup. Once the incremental backup has run, that file will not be backed up again unless it changes or during the next full backup.
While incremental database backups do run faster, the recovery process is a bit more complicated. If the normal backup runs on Saturday and a file is then updated Monday morning, should something happen to that file on Tuesday, one would need to access the Monday night backup to restore it.
For one file, that’s not too complicated. However, should an entire drive be lost, one would need to restore the normal backup, plus each and every incremental backup run since the normal backup.
An alternative to incremental database backups that has a less complicated restore process is a differential backup. Differential backups and recovery are similar to incremental in that these backups grab only files that have been updated since the last normal backup. However, differential backups do not clear the archive bit. So, a file that is updated after a normal backup will be archived every time a differential backup is run until the next normal backup runs and clears the archive bit.
Similar to our last example, if a normal backup runs on Saturday night and a file gets changed on Monday, that file would then be backed up when the differential backup runs Monday night. Since the archive bit will not be cleared, even with no changes, that file will continue to be copied on the Tuesday night differential backup and the Wednesday night differential backup and every additional night until a normal backup runs again capturing all the drive’s files and resetting the archive bit.
A restore of that file, if needed, could be found in the previous night’s tape. In the event of a complete drive failure, one would need to restore the last normal backup and only the latest differential backup. This is less time consuming than an incremental backup restore. However, each night that a differential backup runs, the backup files get larger and the time it takes to run the backup lengthens.
Backup and Recovery Software for MSPs
MSPs have specific needs when it comes to backup software. Providing services for a variety of businesses means navigating a variety of IT networks and infrastructures. Each client has a different list of needs when it comes to database backup and recovery, and the equipment and access can vary widely with each location. With all these different variables to consider, a feature-rich backup software is necessary.
Reliability is also a critical point in choosing database backup software. According to Boston Computing Network:
- 34% of companies fail to test their tape backups
- 77% of those companies found tape back-up failures
- 60% of companies that lose their data close within six months of the failure
When customers trust an MSP to do their backups, they are trusting that provider with their businesses’ future.
All Your Backups in One Place
The N-able MSP Backup software provides managed service providers and IT professionals a cloud-based resource for performing the most effective backup operations.
No matter what situation or type of backing up and recovery is being done, MSP Backup & Recovery will complete the task fast. TrueDelta technology tracks file changes at the block level, only copying what has changed and allowing for backups during business hours, along with simultaneous archiving to local and cloud destinations. It’s compatible across multiple platforms including VMware, Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server and more.
Restores also happen at lightning speed since the software automatically chooses the fastest recovery source, whether that be cloud or local, and the hybrid cloud architecture allows for greater redundancy and backups that are always in sync.