Concerned about keeping your data accessible in the event of a computer problem? Cloud-based backup and disaster recovery services use snapshot technology to restore data quickly and efficiently and provide business continuity
Editors note: This article is part of a series. In a previous article, author David Streit outlined options for moving anti-spam and email services to the cloud. The articles provide some examples of cloud services that he uses for his own domain, stephillassociates.com, which resells and supports these services for clients.
In my last article, I described two popular hosted Cloud servicesanti-spam protection through Reflexion Networks and Microsoft Exchange 2010 corporate email through Intermedia.net. I have used both services with my own domain, stephillassociates.com, for several years with excellent reliability, features and performance. I also have several satisfied clients using Reflexion and Intermedia. Its nice to have services that just work!
Backup methodologies are another popular cloud application. Online backup has been around for years, made popular through services such as Mozy, Carbonite and Jungle Disk. Online backup enables secure storage of data files, including previous versions and retention of locally deleted files for 90 days to a year, in the cloud.
The Benefits of BDR
I particularly like hybrid backup, business continuity and disaster recovery solutions that combine local backups with off-site synchronization to secure data centers. My favorite solution is a backup and disaster-recovery appliance (BDR). It makes frequent snapshots (a picture of the entire computer at a point in time) as often as every 15 minutes, but typically hourly. The snapshots are replicated offsite to the manufacturers data centers. Best of all, the BDR can virtualize a snapshot, setting up the snapshot so it is live, simulating the failed physical computer. The virtualized image acts just like the physical server, with Windows, all applications, and all data files, permissions, and custom settings intact. Users dont even know they are running from the BDR! Support staff can repair or replace the computer while the user continues to work. If the companys office is destroyed and the BDR lost, the last replicated snapshot can be virtualized in the data center while a new BDR is shipped overnight with another copy of the last snapshot. The BDR can be used to restore a snapshot of an old computer to a new computer in a way that ensures the new computer will boot.
The BDR is also monitored by the manufacturer and the IT service firm that sold it to ensure it is working properly. Some BDRs can self-test and email a picture of the login screen of a virtualized snapshot at regular intervals. Thats important, because a backup method that isnt tested can fail to work at the worst time.
With all of these features, BDRs provide not only backup and restoration of files and folders, but they also provide business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities in one integrated solution.
Leading brands include Axcient, Datto, and eFolder, among others. I prefer Datto. In fact, I only sell and support their BDRs. I have several units at clients and they all work well.
BDRs at Work
Some real world examples illustrate successful BDR recoveries. The mail server at a client failed. The failure of the mail server impacted the Web server, which ran on the same server computer. The clients customers booked appointments through the clients website, so the mail system failure could have impacted revenue and communications. When the client called me, I instructed them to shut down the physical server, and then I logged into Dattos Web portal and remotely virtualized a recent snapshot of the entire server. In five minutes, the clients normal operations resumed. A few days later the physical server was put back into operation and the virtualized snapshot shut down.
A week later the same business accidentally deleted an important file and asked for a backup to be restored from 4 p.m. the day before. I went back into Dattos Web portal, set up the desired hourly snapshot with a few mouse clicks, remotely connected to the owners computer, connected the clients computer over his network to the snapshot as if it was another hard drive, and then let him browse for the missing file. He found it in a few minutes and sent it on to his customer. So in one week, the BDR successfully allowed the clients website and mail system to continue operating and handled a file restore from the precise date and time desired. A happy client is my favorite client!
Latin Business Today, Datto and I will be hosting a webinar about BDRs in more detail. Please join us!
About the author
David Streit is an IT consultant and an entrepreneur, as principal of Stephill Associates, LLC. in Manalapan, New Jersey. Stephill provides IT infrastructure and technology advisory services for small business clients in New Jersey and New York City. Streit has worked with PCs and technology for more than 25 years. He and his wife, Claudia, have two daughters, Hillary and Stephanie.
Stephill Associates website.