Tip

Determining a backup strategy

Determining a backup strategy
Tricia Camera

Organizing your backups into different groups with different backup schedules can help reduce your costs considerably. MP3 files are a good example of storing unnecessary files and expanding backup windows. You can begin by grouping your file data by type and access. The data type identifies data by purpose, while data access identifies data by usage and rate of change. Data type involves organizing the data by Operating System, Operating System (OS) Data, Applications and User Data. Data access identifies the data's usage and change rate. For some data, there might not be any modification because the data is archive data. For other data, there might be low, medium or high change. This process will help you determine how often your data should be backed up and how long it should be stored.

The following questions should be asked:

  • Does the data support a critical business function?
  • Does the data support a legal or auditing concern?
  • Is the data sensitive?
  • Is the data difficult or expensive to reproduce?

This will help determine how often to backup and how long to store the data in question. For example, data that supports a critical business function should be copied off-site on a regular basis and should have a brief retention period because

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of its high rate of change. Data that supports a legal or auditing concern should also be copied off-site on a somewhat regular basis; however, it should have a long or permanent retention period because of its nature. Sensitive data, such as patents or trade secrets, should be copied off-site on a fairly regular basis and should be permanently archived. Data, such as historical information, that is difficult or expensive to reproduce, should be copied off-site once and should be permanently archived.

Constructing monthly, weekly and daily backup schedules for backup files based on their sensitivity and frequency of change is equally important. There will be times when an administrator will need a file restored to a state other than the last backup. In these instances, saving multiple generations of a backup can be very important. Only perform backups of the operating system after the upgraded or changes are made to its configuration. A vaulting service provider should save a single copy of system data by the administrator setting the retention period to zero and the number of generations to one. Remember, out-dated backups of the operating system are not of much value at restoration time.

About the author: Tricia Camera operates strategic marketing and national branding initiatives for amerivault, a B2B online data backup and recovery service company, headquartered in Waltham Mass. Amerivault currently has offices in Baltimore, New York, and Philadelphia and services clients worldwide.


This was first published in August 2001

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