11-06-14 | Blog Post

Offsite Backup, Onsite Backup, or Both?

Blog Posts

There are many backup and recovery options out there; some onsite, some offsite. Trying to parse through which one fits best into your disaster recovery plan can be very difficult, and often for a result that isn’t ideal. I spoke with our Director of Infrastructure Nick Lumsden about the reasons why someone may want onsite versus offsite backup, and vice versa, to try clarifying the muddy waters of backup and recovery.

So, when is it good to stay onsite? Nick explains:

“Onsite backup is generally part of a two-fold strategy used to ensure rapid access to point in time data that takes longer to retrieve offsite.  Organizations supporting databases with a high data change rate will often employ an onsite backup strategy for quick recovery in the event of a failure.  For example, if my ETL [Extract, Transform, Load] process fails during the Load stage, I want to recover my database quickly to the point in the process just prior to the Load.  ETL is a heavy piece of work, and if something goes wrong, I don’t want to have to spend a lot of time starting over.”

Nick explained that onsite backup isn’t as much for retention or protection. It’s a strategy to employ for rapid recovery of large datasets when working on a project. If you’re looking for protection, you want to go offsite. In the case of a storage system or backup server failure, and especially a natural disaster like a fire or flood, having your files backed up won’t mean anything if they’re onsite, they’ll just be lost as well. Nick adds:

“Data is business now. You have to get it out of the data center you’re in. The only way you can protect yourself is to get the backup data offsite.”

I know it sounds like the choice is speed or security, but that isn’t actually the case. Most companies, to make the most of their backup and recovery solution, go with a blended approach. Having onsite backup for the high data workload business, and offsite to ensure a business level recovery solution creates a more flexible backup strategy than choosing one or the other. However, if you have to pick one Nick says, go offsite:

“If you’re only going to have one, you’re going to have offsite backup.  Today’s offsite solutions are not the laborious tape backup systems of the past several decades – they are disk based, online, and much easier to use.  If it takes time to recover, it’s always going to be better than not being able to recover at all.”

Know the difference

Not all offsite backup solutions are the same. There are now offsite backup options that are disk based, which will be much faster (and easier to use) than their more traditional tape counterparts. For more information about disk based offsite backup, attend our November 11th webinar with Technical Architect of AHEAD, Steven Aiello.

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