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What is data backup and why is it important?

What is Data Backup?

Data Backup is the process of making a copy of your digitized data and other business information in case your data is damaged, deleted or lost. The backup copy is then used to recover or restore your data for business continuity and disaster recovery. Many IT organizations make multiple backup copies and keep one copy on-premises for the fastest recovery and keep a second copy offsite or in the cloud in case their on-prem copy is damaged, typically due to natural or man-made disaster.


Why you need to execute now - before it's too late

Ransomware attacks, system failures, storage crashes, accidental changes and viruses are a constant risk. Protecting an entire company's IT resources and data can be overwhelming when you factor in remote offsite workers in unsecured locations. So you need to prioritize what you backup and how often.


Why is data backup & recovery important?

The ramifications of not being prepared for an event can be irreversible, and the ripple effect can stunt the growth and stability of the company permanently. When data is changed, lost or damaged due to some unexpected event or malicious attack, your backups are your last line of defense and probably the only way to recover. It’s critical for IT administrators responsible for data protection to fully understand data backup and recovery approaches and techniques.


What is the 3-2-1 Backup Rule?

This failsafe approach creates redundancies to protect against the most common scenarios that could affect data that has been backed up. Believe it or not, data backups could also suffer from a catastrophic event. The rule is simple to follow. Always maintain three copies of your data, two of which are stored locally but on different media types and keep one of those copies offsite (at a remote site or in the cloud).


How to Set Your Backup and Recovery Goals?

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) are two of the most critical factors for planning your backup and disaster recovery strategies. By understanding and allocating time frames to your data recovery, companies can determine the type of backup they require and the hardware and software that may be needed.

  • Recovery Time Objective (RTO) - represents an acceptable amount of time (typically defined by the business) to recover your data. Many data backup technologies are available to achieve fast recovery, but some are very expensive, so IT staff typically have to balance cost with performance.
  • Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) - is the maximum acceptable amount of data loss after an unplanned data-loss incident. The more often you back up your data, the more you will reduce risk of loss or damage. The challenge is that the more often you run backup, the more storage and budget you will use. So, IT staff must balance cost with risk.


What are the Backup Types?

Full Backup

A full backup is a process of making a copy of all data that an organization wishes to protect in a single backup operation.

Synthetic Full Backup

A synthetic full backup takes a full backup and combines subsequent incremental backups with it to provide a full backup that is always up to date. A synthetic full backup uses only the backup server and its storage, consuming zero resources from the system being backed up.

Differential Backup

A differential backup is a data backup that copies all files that have changed since the last full backup. This includes any data that has been created, updated, or altered in any way and does not copy all the data every time.

Incremental Backup

An incremental backup is a backup type that only copies data that has been changed or created since the previous backup activity was conducted. Incremental backups can be block-level or byte-level. Byte-level incremental backups will use the least amount of storage.

Continuous Data Protection

(CDP), also called continuous backup data or real-time backup refers to the backup of data by automatically saving a copy of every change made to that data, essentially capturing every version of the user’s data saved.

Snapshot Backup

A snapshot backup is a backup copy used to create the complete architectural copy (image) of an application, disk, or system.

Bare Metal Backup (BRM)

bare-metal restore (also referred to as bare-metal recovery or bare-metal backup) is a recovery and restoration process where a computer (operating system, application, data and settings) is typically restored to a new machine after a catastrophic hardware failure.

VM Recovery

A Full VM Recovery uses a backup of a virtual machine (guest) to recover that guest to a virtualized host system. This will return the guest and its operating system, applications, data, and services to a previous working state.

Volume Recovery

A Full VM Recovery uses a backup of a virtual machine (guest) to recover that guest to a virtualized host system. This will return the guest and its operating system, applications, data, and services to a previous working state.

File-level Recovery

A file-level refers to recovering individual files that may have been lost or damaged.


Data deduplication is a process that eliminates excessive copies of data and significantly decreases storage capacity requirements.


Replication is the act of copying and then moving backup data between a company's sites or to the cloud. There are two types of replication: (1) synchronous, where every write to primary backup storage is simultaneously replicated to the secondary backup storage and (2) asynchronous, where data is first written to primary backup storage and replicated afterward to secondary backup storage.

Data Backup

What is a Backup Target?

Backup target refers to the storage device used with your backup solution to retain copies of your data on storage external to the source of the data itself. Backup copies provide another layer of protection for data and should be used for long-term retention and disaster recovery.

Redundant Array of Independent Disks
(RAID) is a device that contains multiple disk drives and stores the same data in different places on multiple hard disks or solid-state drives (SSDs) to protect data in the case of an individual drive failure. There are many different RAID levels depending on its data protection capabilities.

A tape drive is a device that stores computer data on magnetic tape, especially for backup and archiving purposes.

Virtual Tape Library
(VTL) A virtual tape library is a data storage virtualization technology typically used for backup and recovery purposes. It presents a storage component, typically a disk array, as a physical tape library or tape drive for use with existing backup software originally designed to use tape as its backup target.

Cloud Storage
Cloud service providers (such as Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google, Wasabi and others) offer cloud-based storage for backup, disaster recovery and long-term retention purposes. The most popular cloud storage used for backup is “object storage” due to its low cost. By using the cloud as a backup, replication or tiering target, companies can access their backups virtually anywhere they have internet connectivity.


What are the differences between Backup Appliances vs. Backup Software?

There are mainly two different data backup solution types. Each has its pros and cons.

Backup Appliances
Backup appliance is a data storage device or equipment that combines the backup software and hardware components within a single device. It is an all-inclusive backup solution that provides a central interface for backup processes, tools and infrastructure. The market refers to these solutions as “Purpose Built Backup Appliances” or PBBAs. A benefit of a PBBA is that it’s easier to purchase than purchasing the software, hardware, operating system and storage separately. But with PBBA’s, you have to refresh the hardware every 3 – 5 years and that means paying for the backup software over and over each time.

Backup Software
Backup software is a computer program that performs a backup to create additional copies of files, databases, or entire computers. These programs may later use the supplementary copies to restore the original contents in the event of data loss. The benefit of backup software is that it may be installed on the hardware, VM, and cloud preferred by the IT department. PBBAs are only offered on specific hardware devices/manufacturers and cannot be installed in a public cloud. And with backup software, even when you do a hardware refresh, you don’t have to pay for the backup software again.



Data backup is critical to the health of the business. It is an insurance policy against accidental changes, malicious attacks and man-made or natural disasters. Every IT organization is charged with data protection to help ensure disaster recovery and business continuity. Quest Software provides comprehensive data protection solutions to accelerate data backup and recovery, significantly reduce backup storage requirements and cost, and optimize backups to best leverage the cloud for disaster recovery and long-term data retention.

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