Pondering Backup

What is a Backup System anyway

When you ask five people what they understand by a good ‘backup system‘ you will likely get five different answers.  The reason is simply this: ‘backup’ is too general a term to describe a specific need and solution.

So let us dwell a bit in the various types of backup (and recovery) that people would want.  That is the functionality of the system – rather than the implementation.  Not that implementation technology is unimportant.  One thing that should have become clear however over the last few years is tape backup is on the way out.  For a hillarious illustration of the potential trauma associated with tape backup, see this YouTube video.

 Given the slowness and limited capacity of optical media, the obvious solution is some form of disk based backup. 

OK, with that out of the way let us return to functional requirements / scenarios.  This involves a combination of what information to back up, from which computers, stored where.  Furthermore there is the mirror versus history, and the recovery process. 

The plot thickens.  There is a multi-dimensional matrix to be considered:

  • Computer Function:  Server / Workstation (fixed) / Workstation (mobile)
  • Computer OS: Linux / Windows / Mac OSX
  • Backup Data: Selected Data Only / All Data / Full System
  • Backup Type: Mirror / History Snaps
  • Backup Storage: On-site / Off-site

Each possible combination needs its own consideration.  And considering that the above outlined parameters are neither complete nor exhaustive, yet the total combination of cases already is 3 x 3 x 3 x 2 x 2 = 108.  So, how is a user / consumer to choose, and as a provider, which solution does one offer.  It very well may be that a business / enterprise should not consider a single ‘fit all’ solution, but a menu of backup options / systems each addressing a particular need.

In future posts I hope to flesh out more specific scenarios and suggest specific solutions.

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