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Disaster Recovery Solutions: How to Choose the Best Data Backup

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Tracy Rock

Director of Marketing @ Invenio IT

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Choosing a disaster recovery solution is a big decision for any business. And since there are so many different types of data backup to choose from, comparing all your options can be overwhelming.

What’s at stake? Everything.

Without a good data backup system in place, businesses are exposed to the risks of costly data loss, which can be caused by numerous threats:

  • Accidental deletion
  • Hardware failure
  • Unpatched or buggy software
  • Ransomware and other malware
  • Data migration errors
  • Overwritten data
  • Third-party app errors
  • Operating system vulnerabilities

Just one hour of downtime caused by data loss can cost businesses between $10,000 and $5 million, depending on the company’s size. So it’s critical that businesses can back up their data frequently and recover it without a problem.

If the backups aren’t performed often enough, or can’t be restored quickly enough, recovery becomes much more difficult (and costly).

So, which backup solution is best for your business? Here’s a quick rundown of some of the leading systems available today.

Datto

In recent years, Datto has become one of the biggest names in business continuity and disaster recovery solutions (BC/DR). The company’s backup solutions are designed to provide “enterprise-grade” protection at price points that are reasonable for small- to medium-sized businesses.

Datto’s flagship products are the SIRIS and ALTO. Both are fully-integrated hybrid cloud backup solutions, which means they combine an on-site backup appliance with the protection of mirrored cloud backups.

There are a few key aspects of Datto’s solutions that make them distinct from competitors:

  • All-in-one disaster recovery solution: Datto’s solutions are fully integrated, combining local backup with cloud replication in a single, seamless system. This eliminates the need to configure multiple disparate systems, as is common with the other disaster recovery solutions listed below. Datto’s all-in-one solutions are thus faster to deploy, easier to manage and more tightly integrated with the cloud (via Datto’s own data centers).
  • Inverse Chain Technology: This is Datto’s patented backup process, which improves on the concept of incremental backups by eliminating the dependence on previous snapshots. Each new backup is stored in a fully constructed state. There is no time-consuming rebuild process when data must be restored. The resulting benefits are more resilient backups (less prone to failure during recovery) and a backup frequency as often as every five minutes.
  • Instant virtualization: Virtualized backups have become a new standard for BC/DR providers, because they provide faster access to lost data, as well as applications. Datto’s technology stands out because the virtualized backups can be booted from on-site, the cloud or a mixture of both, giving businesses greater options for restoring continuity.
  • Ransomware protection: Datto’s systems actively look for signs of a ransomware footprint (i.e. large amounts of data being modified), so that administrators can take action at the earliest signs of an infection. Additionally, Datto’s Rapid Rollback feature enables businesses to quickly roll back major unwanted changes from a ransomware attack, without the need to reimage an entire machine.

Some additional features to compare with competitors are Datto’s screenshot verification (automatic validation of backup integrity) and its Backup Insights platform, which makes it easy to locate lost data.

Barracuda & Intronis

Barracuda is another big player in data backup and network security. In 2015, the company merged with Intronis to expand its BC/DR offering, particularly for delivery through managed-service providers (MSPs). The products are still offered as two distinct solutions to meet the specific needs of each business: Barracuda Backup and Intronis Backup.

Here’s how the two offerings break down:

  • Barracuda: The flagship Barracuda solution provides hybrid cloud protection that combines an on-site appliance with replicated backups in the Barracuda Cloud. Like Datto’s, this hybrid approach provides an added layer of protection in case of on-site threats, and it’s designed to protect physical, virtual and multi-site environments.
  • Intronis: Intronis Backup is essentially a software-only solution that gives organizations the flexibility to build their own backup infrastructure while using Intronis to manage the backup process. The software allows for hybrid local backup as well as up to 15 TB of cloud storage.

If you’re comparing Datto vs. Barracuda, or Datto vs. Intronis, something to consider is how each provider’s solutions are integrated together—or what kind of integration is required to achieve true business continuity for both local and cloud data.

Infrascale

Infrascale’s BC/DR solutions provide similar benefits as Barracuda’s and Datto’s, with a focus on disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). Its backup solutions can be deployed in several forms to protect both physical and virtual environments.

Infrascale’s hybrid cloud backups provide the ability to retrieve lost data or virtualize a backup in the cloud. Businesses also have the option to back up their data to other third-party clouds:

What to explore:

  • Cloud choice: Businesses can choose to replicate their data from the on-site appliance to a private cloud, Infrascale’s cloud or third-party clouds, such as Amazon AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure or IBM Bluemix.
  • Drag-and-Drop Orchestration: Infrascale gives businesses some added control when determining the priority of machines to recover. A drag-and-drop orchestration runbook editor lets you create a flowchart defining which machines get recovered and the sequence in which they’re recovered.

Keep in mind, as with any backup solution, greater flexibility for deployment can often translate into greater complexity for configuration. Businesses and their MSPs should carefully weigh the time, cost and scope of configuration required to achieve a unified solution.

StorageCraft

StorageCraft is another leading BC/DR provider that’s been around since 2003. Its most recent solution is the OneXafe, which the company markets as a “converged data platform,” providing unified data protection with scale-out storage.

StorageCraft’s BDR devices are powered by the ShadowProtect backup solution, or its newer ShadowXafe solution, both of which provide protection for physical and virtual environments.

Key features:

  • Converged Storage: StorageCraft’s OneXafe product can be configured as primary storage, secondary storage or converged secondary storage with backup. The converged option can help reduce infrastructure complexity, because it consolidates a company’s storage and data-protection stack into a single infrastructure.
  • Multiple recovery options: Like competing solutions, StorageCraft backups can be booted instantly for the fastest access to lost data and applications. Files and folders can also be retrieved individually, from local machines or the cloud.

The launch of ShadowXafe also introduces StorageCraft’s new “advanced re-verification” process, which is an automated feature that continually checks the integrity of backups to ensure they can be successfully restored, similar to Datto’s.

Unitrends

Unitrends provides a range of business continuity solutions for SMBs and enterprise businesses. Its unified BC/DR solution provides hybrid-cloud backup, combining an on-site Unitrends appliance with secondary storage in the Unitrends Cloud and/or other public clouds, such as AWS.

Unitrends offers both agent-based and agentless backups, protecting physical and virtual machines (VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, AWS, Azure).

Features and capabilities to look at:

  • Cloud continuity:Unitrends’ DRaaS offering provides a seamless integration between the Unitrends Cloud and on-site devices, such as the newer Gen8 and Recovery Series MAX appliances. Virtualized backups can be spun up locally or in the cloud to restore access to critical data and applications.
  • Incremental Forever: This is a Unitrends feature that makes the backup process more efficient by eliminating the need to replicate data that hasn’t been modified since the last full backup. Some compare this to Datto’s Inverse Chain Technology, but the two processes are actually quite different. Also known as a “Synthetic Full” backup, the Incremental Forever process still uses a traditional backup chain that’s dependent on previous snapshots (and is thus prone to common issues like corrupted data and failed restores). However, Unitrends’ Recovery Assurance technology does provide automated recovery testing to provide some peace of mind about backup integrity.

Unitrends has also developed its own ransomware detection feature, which uses AI to identify infections as part of every backup.

Veeam

Like many of its competitors, Veeam provides a suite of disaster recovery solutions designed to protect a wide range of workloads: virtual, physical and cloud (including VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V).

Veeam’s Backup Essentials is designed for small businesses with “environments no larger than 6 CPU sockets or 50 instances.” Its Availability Suite is designed for larger organizations who need more advanced data protection (utilizing Veeam Backup & Replication).

Features to compare:

  • Reverse incremental backups: Veeam’s Backup & Replication system uses three backup methods to create backup chains: “Forever Forward Incremental,” “Forward Incremental” and “Reverse Incremental.” The reverse incremental is unique from other backup methods in that the recent restore point in the backup chain is always a full backup that’s not dependent on previous snapshots (a benefit similar to Datto’s Inverse Chain).
  • Hyper-Availability: This is Veeam’s terminology for instant virtualization, which can be performed both locally and in the cloud. Backups can be virtualized in seconds and businesses can choose from a wide range of cloud providers.

As with other providers, configuration is very flexible and thus can also get very complex depending on what level of business continuity the business wants to achieve.

Axcient (eFolder / Replibit)

After the 2017 merger between eFolder and Axcient, the combined company rebranded as Axcient and introduced a new Business Availability suite made up of data protection technologies from both companies.

Axcient Replibit is an image-based backup system that captures all data (including operating systems, applications and configurations), storing them on a local BDR appliance as well as in the Axcient Cloud.

What to explore:

  • Chain-free: Axcient uses “chain-free technology” for its backups, which means that each recovery point is independent from previous backups. Like similar technologies from other providers, this can reduce the risk of data being corrupted during the backup process.
  • BRC: Axcient’s BRC solution provides business availability in the event of any disaster, allowing businesses to recover individual machines or an entire site through Axcient’s Virtual Office and automated Runbook features.

Axcient’s customers have the option of building or repurposing their own hardware for the local BDR appliance or purchasing/leasing from Axcient. Companies can also use their own cloud for the off-site backups, instead of using Axcient’s.

What to Consider When Evaluating Disaster Recovery Solutions

While all of the disaster recovery solutions listed above provide some form of backup, each one approaches it differently and has different capabilities. Choosing a system should be based on each organization’s unique infrastructure and continuity objectives.

Here are some questions to consider that will help narrow your options:

1) How frequently will you need to back up your data?

Data is central to the operation of most businesses today. But if your company is not as dependent on it, then virtually any high-quality backup system will suffice. On the flipside, if your organization can’t afford to lose any data, look for systems that can back it up continuously or every few minutes.

2) How much data needs to be backed up?

Every disaster recovery solution has a limitation for the amount of data that can be stored, so this is one of the first specifications to confirm. Many systems offer different “sizes” to accommodate each company’s specific needs – and in general you don’t want to over-size a system, because it will usually cost more and may be more complex to maintain. Be sure to also confirm cloud storage options and options for long-term retention.

3) How quickly do you need to be able to recover lost data?

In your disaster recovery plan, this is known as a “recovery time objective,” or RTO, which can help to identify the right backup system. Do you need to be able to recover lost data within minutes? Seconds? Instantly? Make sure the system can achieve your desired RTO to ensure continuity.

4) What data recovery methods are available?

Not all data-loss events are made equal. So it’s important that your backup system offers recovery options for a wide variety of scenarios. Examples include file-level & folder restores, volume restores, backup virtualization, bare metal restores, cloud recovery, hypervisor restores and file exports.

5) How easy is the system to deploy and manage?

What is the projected time for deployment? What is the level of complexity and how will those challenges be overcome? What about backups stored in the cloud – is the cloud integrated, or will you need to select and integrate third-party cloud services?

6) Where will backups be stored?

This question is important because you want to be sure you have the fastest-possible access to your data, in addition to a failsafe against the worst-case scenarios. For example, on systems such as the Datto SIRIS, backups are stored locally on dedicated hardware in addition to being replicated to the cloud for added assurance (a process commonly referred to as hybrid cloud backup).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What is a disaster recovery solution?

A disaster recovery solution creates backups of a company’s files to ensure it can recover lost data after a ransomware attack, server outage or other disaster. Backups are often stored in two locations, such as on local hardware and in the cloud, for protection against a wider array of disaster scenarios.

While the term “disaster recovery solution” usually refers to data backup systems, it can also be used to describe other types of recovery systems, software and tools for other components of a company’s IT infrastructure.

2. What are the three types of disaster recovery?

Three common types of disaster recovery include data recovery, operational recovery and network disaster recovery. These areas represent some of the most critical systems and processes that enable organizations to continue running without interruption.

  • Data recovery refers to the recovery of lost data from backups.
  • Operational recovery refers to processes, systems and employee procedures that enable the business to resume operations after a disaster.
  • Network disaster recovery refers to the systems and protocols that restore network and/or Internet connectivity.

3. What are some of the best practices for disaster recovery?

The best practice for disaster recovery is maintaining an up-to-date disaster recovery plan that specifies the procedures for responding to a disruption to IT systems or business operations. This documentation should be used to guide all processes related to disaster prevention, mitigation and recovery.

Some specific practices to include in a disaster recovery plan include procedures for data backup, testing, storage and cloud recovery.

Conclusion

Disaster recovery solutions play a critical role in business continuity. When data is lost or destroyed, it can lead to a costly operational disruption, particularly in major data-loss events, such as ransomware attacks or server failure. A disaster recovery solution ensures that an organization can quickly restore lost data from a backup and get back to business with little interruption. Given the wide array of such solutions on the market, businesses must be careful to select a BC/DR system that matches their specific needs, budget and continuity objectives.

Test-drive today’s best disaster recovery solutions

A much deeper comparison is needed to differentiate the many advantages and disadvantages of today’s leading disaster recovery solutions. Let our experts guide you through it. Request a free demo or contact our disaster recovery teams at (646) 395-1170.

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