Slinger's Thoughts

April 2, 2013

Backing up the backed up backups of your backups – Where do you keep your backup files.

Filed under: Disaster Recovery, SharePoint — slingeronline @ 2:49 pm

If you have been following along the past few posts, then you have a pretty good idea what you need to backup, and when you need to back it up.  So once you do have a governance policy in place that says what you need to backup, and when your backups need to run, you are set to go right?  Sure, but where are you going to keep the backup files?  I would like to say that this is a "no-brainer", but I have seen it many times where the backup files were stored on the very server that was backed up.  I will admit that I am guilty of it as well, although under very unique circumstances. (Those circumstances being that it was a testing environment and I didn’t really care if the entire farm went belly up, I was in a position to lose exactly no critical data at all.) So where do you keep those files? When deciding where to keep your backup files there will be several things to consider; you will need to weigh the importance of each aspect to decide which option is best for your organization.

Backup Latency

Backup Latency is how quickly a backup file can be stored to the selected location. Selecting a local drive to store the backup file will be extremely fast, while selecting to store your backup in the cloud will likely be significantly slower.

Safety

While storing a backup file locally is very quick, it is not very secure. If something happens to your server that makes it inaccessible, chances are your backup file is also inaccessible, which means it is useless.

Restore Latency

Restore Latency is how fast you can get the information out of your backup and into your environment. Although there is a close relation between Backup Latency and Restore Latency, they are not identical. Often you do not need to restore the entire contents of your backup, but rather a small portion of it. (I plan to address this in more detail in a future post.)

So where are the best places to store backup files? Below is a table* that lists some common locations and how they rank in my experience. Keep in mind that your mileage may vary.

 

Storage Backup Latency Safety Restore Latency
Cloud Low High Low
Tape Low Medium Low
File Share Medium Medium Medium
Portable Hard Drive Medium Low High
Local Drive High Low High

Many people will wonder why I said Tape only has medium safety. It can be very safe, if it is stored offsite. If you keep your tapes next to your server it isn’t much better than a shared drive in terms of safety. (Which makes it the one of the worst options to go with, unless you have a strict policy around tape management that will prevent the tapes from being stacked on top of the server rack.) The same can be said of the removable hard drive. Typically they are left plugged into the server and just stacked on top of the rack. If there is a strictly enforced policy that says the the portable drive must be kept off site unless it is being actively used in the backup or restore process, safety considerations go up.  The reason that this is important is because not every disaster is related to software or hardware failure. Sometimes environmental conditions are the cause of your disaster. If your server room floods and all of your backups are kept in the same room with your server, you didn’t really have a backup after all did you? You can tell that there are going to be other cost considerations as well. Convenience is one and the actual financial costs should always be a consideration. I’ve added those to the table* below.

 

Storage Backup Latency Safety Restore Latency Convenience Cost
Cloud Low High Low High High
Tape Low Medium Low Low Medium
File Share Medium Medium Medium High Medium
Portable Hard Drive Medium Low High Medium Medium
Local Drive High Low High High Low
 

You can tell that there isn’t really a best, “one size fits all” solution. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. It truly depends on what your needs are and what your organization can afford. Please note that there also is no real correlation between cost, safety, convenience, etc. I should also note that with Tape and Portable Hard Drives you can increase the safety, but it will also decrease the relative convenience. Keep all of this in mind and be sure to include it in your disaster recovery planning.  Cost can also increase with the amount of storage space required.   What do you want to keep in your backups? If you keep your SharePoint backups on the local drive and then through a different disaster recovery policy backup the entire server to the cloud, you just backed up your backup, and that uses storage space. Your backup will take a little longer, and use up a little more storage space.  This will eventually add up. Instead of backing up SharePoint to the local server and then backing up the local server to the cloud, including the backup, it probably makes more sense to backup SharePoint to the same location initially. This also means that in the event of a disaster you don’t have to restore the backup from the restored backup.  (If we keep this up we will end up in a cyclic redundancy loop, like having Doritos Locos Tacos flavored Doritos. Are we next going to have some Doritos Locos Tacos flavored Doritos Locos Tacos?)

*The values in the tables are not from any official source, but just from my personal experience. Your experience may vary greatly from mine. This is only meant as a guide to what you should consider when choosing a location to store your backup files.

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2 Comments »

  1. […] the past few blog posts, I have gone over the What, When, and Where of SharePoint Disaster Recovery planning.  So, why? Why do you need any type of Disaster […]

    Pingback by An Ounce of Prevention – Why Backups are important | Slinger's Thoughts — May 3, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

  2. […] you’ve been playing along, I’ve talked about what, when, where, and why you should create backups.  One you have a DR plan, that includes what you need to […]

    Pingback by High Heels are not Hammers – How do you create backups | Slinger's Thoughts — June 10, 2013 @ 12:32 pm


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