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Business File Backup Options: How Long Will It Take to Get My Data Back? Blog Feature
John Leete

By: John Leete on March 9th, 2018

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Business File Backup Options: How Long Will It Take to Get My Data Back?

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The business world is cutthroat.

Information is EVERYTHING. Without it, how would you serve your customers? Think about it, your client database, financial records, documents, or email… GONE.

99.9% of businesses need continuous access to their system to keep their business running smoothly. Your backup is the backbone of your company. It keeps your data safe from daily human error and disasters such as fires in extreme circumstances.

Data backup is essential to any company's disaster recovery plan. While there are many ways to backup vital company data, "how" you back it up, is almost as important as "what" you back up.

Let's explore the different kinds of backups and how they work together.

What are My File Backup Options?

What are File-Based Backups?

A file-based backup is exactly what it sounds like; you backup all the files in a particular area or system.  This is an absolute "must have" for disaster recovery, but it does pose this problem:

"I have all my data, but how do I open it?" 

Backing up the files themselves is a significant first step, but that accounting spreadsheet isn't going to do you much good without having the software to open it.

What are Image-Based Backups?

An image-based backup is a complete snapshot of your system in its current state. Files, software, settings, IP address, EVERYTHING

From an image-based backup, you can restore your ENTIRE system once a new piece of hardware is available. No loading operating systems and software. No reprogramming workstations etc., it gets your old server back online in short order.

How Long Will It Take to Get My Files Back?

How Long It Takes to Get Files Back

What is Recovery Point Objective?

Your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is the maximum amount of time you can go without your data. Typically, with either backup method, your RPO can be adjusted.  So, you must ask yourself,

"How often do I need to backup my information?" 

How long is an acceptable amount of downtime due to data loss? Maybe it's 6 hours or half a day for your business. Consider how much you'd miss out on without access to your data, and what you can reasonably afford to lose. 

Typically, 4 hours is a good window for most businesses. However, the more often you backup, the more disk space you are using. Finding the balance and setting your RPO is vital.

Luckily this can be done with either the file-based or image-based backup.

What is Recovery Time Objective?

Where the difference in the backup methods comes into play is Recovery Time Objective (RTO).  How long can you be without access to your data?  If it’s something small, a user accidentally deleted a single file or folder; you could be back up in minutes with either backup option.

However, if it’s something major, complete hardware failure, a fire destroyed all your equipment, etc., then your RTO will be affected. 

What Role Does RTO  Play in My Business?

If the hardware is destroyed, you will be down the time it takes to get a replacement. Then the data needs to be restored. If you only have a file-based backup, you’d still need to re-load the operating system, link the new server to the domain, load applications that run the data, etc. 

With an image-based backup, you could restore the entire server in a comparable amount of time.  All files, applications, settings -  all restored precisely the same as the last time the server checked in.  Your recovery time is considerably less, and your users are back to full productivity sooner.

In a nutshell always, always, ALWAYS have a secure backup (and please have one offsite as well). Think twice about how you backup files to make sure your recovery time objective is as low as it can be.

Talk to your IT provider, figure out your risk tolerance and leverage that against your budget. Use that metric to make sure your bottom line is covered, and critical business data is available when you need it.

Have more questions? We're happy to chat anytime. Give us a call at 800-481-4369.

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Related: The Difference Between Data Backup, Disaster Recovery, and Business Continuity

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About John Leete

John is a virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) for Accent Computer Solutions, Inc. He helps clients plan their technology so their business goals become a reality. He guides technology strategy and vision as a trusted technical advisor to his clients.