How to optimise a data backup service

A vital element of maintaining an efficient business

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The quantity of data that every business now has to manage and store has been growing almost exponentially over the last few years.

Indeed, the IDC Digital Universe Study estimated that the total volume of data worldwide would increase from approximately 1.3 trillion GB in 2010 to 35 trillion GB by 2020. Backing up this data has become a commercial imperative to which all organisations need to pay more attention.

Optimising data backup across a business means developing a new approach to how data is managed. The cost of disk storage may have continued to fall, but simply buying more storage capacity isn't an effective approach, and doesn't protect a business from future explosions in its data storage needs.

Key steps

For a truly optimised data backup environment, a more efficient approach needs to be taken, and there are a number of key steps that businesses can take to improve the performance of their data backups:

  • Data should be audited - Often, businesses will attempt to back up every piece of data they have, when the vast majority is actually duplicates of core data files. An important component of data backup optimisation is to only backup the data that is critical.
  • Efficient data access - Backing up data is a straightforward exercise, but a truly optimised system will allow efficient access to these data files. It's very easy to back up data into impenetrable data silos, which may be appropriate for archive data, but not for mission critical information that can change minute-by-minute.
  • Use virtualisation carefully - There is no doubt that virtualisation can provide a number of benefits to small businesses, but using these systems must be carefully assessed to ensure the backups don't put an undue strain on the network. Data backups should not create data bottlenecks across a network and its attached systems.
  • Develop a data backup policy - The data backup system in place will only be as efficient as the policy that governs it. A data audit will reveal which types of data should be preserved, and for the overall policy consider the wider aspects, such as any regulatory responsibilities and how the recovery process will operate.

One of the leading data backup and recovery platforms is Dell SonicWall CDP. Now at version six, SonicWall prevents data loss and downtime with continuous or scheduled point-in-time backup and one-touch restore featuring granular policy enforcement and data de-duplication.

Dell says in its data backup best practice guide: "Given the ever-increasing amount of data generated by today's businesses, IT can no longer avoid re- evaluating traditional backup methodologies that require the management of complex full/log/differential backups and the storage of massive amounts of duplicate data."

Reduce effort

Peter Lamson, Senior Vice President of Small Business for cloud backup company Carbonite, makes clear that it's possible to reduce the effort needed.

"Small businesses are creating new, priceless data every minute of every day and they can't afford to be unprotected," he says. "Low cost, automated and easy to use methods are now mainstream, so there's no reason for small businesses to be spending time manually managing backups, when they could spend that valuable time focused on their business instead."

A well defined data backup policy will ensure that systems are fully optimised to meet the increasing demands businesses place upon them.