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Effective Backup Strategy

15 Crucial Data Backup Terms Explained

What is Data Backup?

Data backup is an essential component of any organisation’s success. Backup, and recovery of backed up data, protects organisations from loss of crucial information. Data backup is a highly customizable and individualised process, which benefits organisations by ensuring that data and files are stored in a manner that is efficient, cost-conscious, and geared towards optimal business results. Network and system downtime can be fatal to today’s businesses; data backup practices can help minimise the impact of downtime, so your customers and users enjoy the best experience with your organisation.

While data backup is so crucial, it can also be a complicated topic. Business leaders are busy running their organisations and have little time to invest in learning about the various components of successful data backup planning. To simplify understanding data backup and its role in ensuring operations with minimal interruptions, we’ve compiled 15 of the most essential data backup terms. With data backup jargon busted, business leaders can focus on the benefits of data backup and not get bogged down in the technospeak. Here are 15 crucial data backup terms explained:

1. BaaS

You’ve likely seen — and probably use — one or more “aaS” solutions, where. BaaS is short for backup as a service. Similar to software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), or other variants, BaaS, like these other as a service solutions, means that a customer purchases backup and recovery services from a provider that delivers through a subscription-based arrangement that connects systems to a cloud service. The cloud backup service can be private, public, or hybrid.

2. Cloud Backup

Following BaaS is the concept of a cloud backup. The cloud is well-known and used by organisations worldwide for everything from productivity and collaboration tools (such as Slack and Google Docs) to computing and storage (such as Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft Azure). Cloud backup is a part of an overall backup and recovery strategy, where organisations follow the 3-2-1 backup rule: three copies of your data, two backup copies on different storage media, and one located offsite. Cloud backup is this offsite solution, where data is stored in a private, public, or hybrid cloud.

3. Private Cloud

If a public cloud is “the cloud” then what is a private cloud? This type of cloud service refers to a limited group of users instead of the general public. Private cloud gives businesses many of the benefits of cloud usage, such as scalability and self-service, but adds control, customisation and a potentially higher level of security.

4. Hybrid Cloud

With a mix of on-premise, private and public cloud, hybrid cloud to balance an organisation’s need for storing a mix of data types. Sensitive or critical data can be stored via an on-premises private cloud, while other, less critical data can be stored in a public cloud. The result is greater flexibility, scalability, and lower costs than using on-premises non-cloud storage.

5. Business Continuity

Businesses need to plan for emergencies where a disaster, such as a hurricane or a flood, negatively impacts the systems and technology they rely upon for daily operations. Business continuity is a system of planning and preparation to minimise downtime and ensure that an enterprise can continue to operate critical business functions. The planning and preparation look at all potential events, and encompasses not just downtime, but slowed or otherwise compromised operations.

6. Full Backup

This term is relatively easy to grasp — it is a full and complete copy of a particular data set to another media. For example, a full backup can be from a server to a disk or a tape. Since full backups are complete iterations of a system or its data, it may be the ideal for recovery, however, it is often impractical to frequently conduct full backups. Depending on the size and activity of the organisation, a full backup can require much time and storage space. Large enterprises, or those with vast amounts of critical data, often find it more cost-effective to periodically conduct a full backup, while using incremental or differential backups to maintain protection.

7. Incremental Backup

Rather than backing up your entire data, you can only copy the information that has changed since the last backup. This incremental process decreases the time and resources needed to protect your organisation. For example, if you complete a full backup on Monday, Tuesday’s incremental backup would only involve data that has changed since Monday, and Wednesday’s would backup whatever has changed since Tuesday, and so on.

8. Differential Backup

Similar to an incremental backup, a differential backup focuses on all of the changes since the last full backup, rather than just backing up step by step over a period of time. In other words, in our example above, Thursday’s backup would backup all of the changes data since Monday’s full backup. A differential backup results in a shorter restore time since the process never involves more than two backup sets. With an incremental backup, you have to restore all of the individual incremental backups to ensure completeness.

9. Disaster recovery

At first glance, disaster recovery seems very similar to data backup. The difference is in the scope of each activity. Disaster recovery (DR) is a planning model aimed at reducing the impact of a disaster — be it natural such as a fire or flood, or human-initiated such as a cyber attack. DR is closely related to backups in that it aims to ensure business continuity, but it has a broader scope as it looks at all critical functions, not just data protection.

10. Metadata

Backups involve a lot of data. Metadata is information about data, and it allows for information to be organised and retrieved more efficiently. Depending on the type of data storage, blocks of data or individual files can be tagged with metadata that is relevant to the content. This data can also be helpful in determining which data is most critical, and therefore needs to be prioritised. Metadata functions as a directory for data and helps with mapping data and data summarisation.

11. Multiplexing

This term may make you think of the movies, as a multiplex is a movie theatre with several screens within a single building. In data backups, multiplexing is the process of backing up several different devices or data sources to one backup. For example, with multiplexing, you can direct the data from 10 laptops to one backup destination. A related process is multistreaming, which divides backup processes into multiple sub-jobs that run simultaneously. The choice of using multiplexing vs multistreaming comes down to the size of the backup job and the speed at which you can backup the data. Multiplexing is useful in situations with low throughput, such as with a slower network speed. Multistreaming helps more efficiently handle large backup jobs by dividing into multiple sub-jobs.

12. Restore Time

A vital consideration in any backup plan is the time it takes to get your system and its data back to normal after an interruption or period of downtime. Restore time is simply a measure of how long it takes. It is a useful figure for knowing the impact of a disruptive event. During disaster recovery planning, restore time can be referenced in deciding systems prioritisation. Restore time might also be thought of in terms of objectives, or goals, based on your business’s needs.

13. Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

RPO seeks to answer a simple question: “how much data can I afford to lose?” It’s a measure of tolerance that helps an enterprise know the impact of downtime. It sets a line in the sand as far as the amount of time that a network can be down without risking data loss that goes beyond the threshold set in a plan. In other words, how far back must an organisation recover after a disruption to resume business as usual?

14. Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

RTO is a target time that an organisation sets for recovery after an incident that affects your technology. This component is a calculation of how fast a business has to mobilise in order to achieve an acceptable lack of business continuity. For example, if an organisation determines that they need to rebound from an outage within three hours, then it has a three-hour RTO. If your volume of critical data is low, then your organisation might be able to withstand longer delays. Some organisations have very little tolerance for downtime and need a solution that provides as close to 100% up-time as possible.

15. Tiered storage

Your data comes in many different varieties. Tiered storage allows you to direct which type of storage is best for a given data type. Some data may need to be more quickly recoverable, and on the other hand, an organisation may not be able to afford immediate recovery of all data. For example, regulations may require that an organisation maintain backed up data for a period of time, such as seven years for financial information; however, this data might not be mission-critical. Rather than having this data consume expensive faster-recovery methods, it can be archived on tape. Tiered storage allows an organisation to customise how it stores data to ensure the most efficient results.

These 15 terms are just some of the potentially confusing concepts in an ever-evolving world of data backup. When planning your organisation’s data backup and recovery needs and goals, consider these factors. For assistance in determining your organisation’s requirements, contact us. We help businesses all over the UK leverage the cloud for their data backup needs, finding the fastest and most efficient methods.