Image Based Disk to Disk Backup, the New Standard

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Image Based Disk to Disk Backup, the New Standard

The major problems with tape backup are:

  1. It is unreliable.  Tapes don’t get changed, they overheat, they are terribly hard and slow to verify.
  2. Restoration is slow because tape is slow and because you must rebuild the OS and restore files separately.  It is time consuming to test the tape as well.
  3. If you run out of room you typically throw away your investment and start over unless you can have someone change tapes and run a two tape backup which is usually very problematic.

These  issues lead to many minor issues such as never REALLY knowing if you have a good backup.  Over the last one to two years a new method of backup has become available to small to medium business.  Very low disk prices has made it affordable to leave unreliable and slow tapes behind and use disk drives to backup disk drives (disk to disk backup).  Disks offer several benefits over tape as a backup medium:

  1. Tape is a sequential access medium, meaning to read the last file on the tape you have to read ALL the other files.  Disk is random access, meaning to get to any file on the disk you just look it up in a directory and read it.
  2. It is far faster and easier to validate that a disk based backup is working
  3. Disks media is more reliable than tape media
  4. Disk allows the backup of another disk as an image, this means you not only get the files but you get the Operating System exactly as it is running

Image based backup means you keep an exact copy of the server or workstation you are backing up.  This image is so complete that you can actually mount it as a virtual drive and run it.  More importantly new technology allows the image to be put on dissimilar hardware and the software finds all the drivers that need replacing and takes care of getting that done.  Is is extremely smart about it and can put an image on from most hardware onto must any other hardware with no human intervention.  Rarely you will have to find a driver on the web and deliver it to the machine but it will tell you easily when this is needed.  To test the backup you can easily mount the image and see the files that are backed up.  With the image mounted you can copy a version of a file back to your real hard disk.  Finally incremental “backups” can be made by simply repeating the changes, bit by bit, that have changed on your real hard drive, onto your image making the amount of data to change far lower.  This means you can have several versions of files backed up by having several incrementals on the drive.

Image based, disk to disk backup is far superior to ANY tape backup I have ever seen.  It is affordable, reliable and fast.  That said there are many ways to set it up and it is very important that you use an experienced engineer to create your image backup scenario for the maximum reliablity and ease of use.  We went through about 20 different iterations before finding what we currently consider the right one.

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