Bizcare will implement a 3-2-1 backup strategy to protect your data. This means having three copies of the data in total, two of those copies stored locally but on different media, and at least one copy offsite.
The first copy of the data is the live data that you work with. This is the only copy of the data that you have direct access to. The second copy is included in a backup file that is encrypted and password protected. We often refer to this copy as the primary backup. The third copy is a copy of the primary backup file. The live data will be changing as work is performed. The second and third copies are snapshots created at a time set by the backup schedule.
Two Local Copies
The live data and the second copy of the data (inside a backup file) must be stored on different media. Typically the second copy will be on a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device on the network. The sole function of this device is to house backups. It is important that the backups are stored on a different device to the live data so that a failure of either device does not affect the other copy.
One Copy Offsite
At least one copy of the data should reside in a different location to the original and access to that data must be protected. Typically this will be a secured data centre. This is the very last line of defence that should rarely, if ever, be required. Two scenarios that would need this data are disaster recovery and recovery from a ransomware attack.
Bizcare uses StorageCraft ShadowProtect to backup servers and workstations. We configure the software to create continuous incremental backups, normally at one hour intervals. This mean that only one full backup is taken of the data, and every backup after this is an incremental backup that stores only changes made to the data. This method of backup has several advantages.
- Frequent (eg. hourly) backups on a continuous 24 x 7 cycle. If data needs to be restored the most recent backup containing good data could be under one hour old, compared to restoring from the previous nights backup.
- Fast backups that produce small incremental backup files. This is particularly important for the offsite copy.
- Elimination of the overnight backup window problem. This is an issue with the more traditional backup schedule where full backups are run overnight. As the amount of data grows that time taken to backup the data eventually exceeds the time available between the close of business and start of business the next morning. In the worst case scenario schedules start to overlap and systems slow to a crawl as they dedicate resources to completing backups. Continuous incremental backups do not have this problem as they are backing up only the changed data.
Backups will accumulate to consume large amounts of storage unless they are managed. Bizcare will configure the backup software to retain data for specific periods of time to satisfy any compliance requirements your business may have. This works by consolidating the backup files to reduce their size and number. The granularity of the data that can be recovered decreases the further back in time you go, but the data never disappears until it is older than the oldest backup held. The consolidation takes place daily, typically overnight when the demand on system resources is low. The consolidation process observes the retention rules that have been set. A typical policy might specify the following.
- Retain hourly backups for 2 days
- Retain daily backup consolidations for 15 days
- Retain weekly backup consolidations for 90 days
- Retain monthly backup consolidations for 12 months (can be up to 10 years)
Bizcare will normally create new full backups of the data periodically to further reduce the size of the offsite copies.
The initial full backups will normally be quite large making transmission to the offsite facility over the internet impractical. The seeding of the initial backups at the datacentre will be handled by Bizcare. We will create a copy of the backups on an external hard drive (supplied by us) and take the drive to the datacentre for uploading. Once the data is seeded we configure the backup software to replicate the primary backup files to the datacentre. Normally this will be set up to replicate the daily consolidated files overnight, but it can be configured to replicate the hourly backup files as they are produced if this is required. We recommend the daily overnight approach as it does not impact internet performance during normal working hours.
Bizcare uses a datacentre in Perth to store the offsite backup copies. This datacentre specializes in the storage of offsite backups and runs the necessary StorageCraft software so that offsite backups are consolidated and retained in the same way as the onsite copies.
Validation of Backups
It is essential that backups are validated to make sure that data and systems can be recovered. The StorageCraft software that Bizcare uses for backups validates the integrity of the backup files immediately after they are produced. The validation is performed by software called ImageManager. It not only checks that the backup file is readable but also periodically checks the chain of backup files in a continuous incremental backup to make sure that the chain is intact. ImageManager also revalidates all backups files on a configurable schedule to check that no errors have developed on the backup media since the files were created.
ImageManager is also responsible for replicating backup files to the offsite datacentre. It will not replicate any files that fail validation until the problem is corrected. The offsite datacentre also runs ImageManager to validate backup files and check the backup chains.
For more information on how Bizcare makes sure that your backups are working correctly see Backup Monitoring.