Optimizing the Recovery Point

By Tom Fedro

Tom Fedro discusses optimal recovery timeWhat’s the optimal recovery point in data backup?  Most tech professionals immediately jump to shout out as loudly as possible “continuous!” or “on the fly!”  Believe it or not, that’s just not correct.

Okay.  Take a deep breath.  I know it sounds like I’ve just committed techno-heresy, but I’m speaking from an operational standpoint here.  The reality is this—on the fly continuous backup is disruptive to most businesses and—brace yourself—unnecessary to most businesses.  The disruptive nature is fairly easy to understand.  Constant image-based backup uses resources and stops users from making changes.  System resource use alone would create a dramatic slowdown.

Does that make sense for a business that doesn’t deal with dynamically changing data?  What about businesses that regularly use but don’t regularly alter data?  Excessive data backup will sometimes cause more of a slowdown than minor data loss.

While nearly every business relies on data nowadays, not every business changes the data with enough frequency to justify the expense or the irritation of attempting to reach near-continual backup.  Companies ought to search for the optimal backup solution.  This solution will be based on the amount of data that needs protection and the frequency of modification in that data.  In some cases, a single backup procedure a few times per week is all that’s needed.  Some businesses will need daily backup, and some businesses will need consistent image-based backup with file-based backup at regular intervals.

There’s an optimal choice and its different for different organizations.  Don’t make the mistake of buying and implementing a solution that makes a whole lot of sense—for someone else’s company.  Determine your real risks and real needs.  Then, consider the impacts of the following:

  • The cost of the backup solution.
  • The costs of implementing the backup solution. (I’m talking about tech department payroll, here.)
  • The costs to the business operations of the implementation.

You may come to the conclusion that backup approaching on the fly consistency may indeed be what you need.  Don’t reach that conclusion because it’s the best available, though.  Reach that conclusion because it has the greatest operational impact on the business.  Somewhere between regular backup and constant backup is the right interval for most businesses.  Find out where on that timeline yours belongs and act accordingly.  Don’t fall into the trap of acting first.

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