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Disaster Recovery: FAQ's

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Disasters can strike in many different forms, from physical accidents like a burst water pipe to Ransomware that encrypts all your vital data.

There are various options for Disaster Recovery, with cloud-based methods being one of the most popular. Cloud-based recovery plans are known for being convenient, flexible and easily maintained, among many other benefits. But many people do question their security. How secure can data really be when it’s stored on the internet via a cloud server? And of course, there are some who wonder if Data Backup & Disaster Recovery plans are even worth having.

This blog will list and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about disaster recovery, from what it is and its background to the importance of backups and the security of cloud-based data.

Why do I need Disaster Recovery?

Having a Disaster recovery plan will help you to restore as much data as possible in the event that your business experiences partial or total critical data loss due to natural causes or a cyber-attack.

Businesses can’t function well or at all without their data and this is where Disaster Recovery comes swooping in to save the day. If you didn’t have this, where could you possibly begin to recover your critical data?



What is the difference between backups and data replication?

These two terms are often used interchangeably and while there are some similarities, the main difference is how backups and data replications are made.

A backup involves making a copy or copies of data, which then require a place to store these ‘tapes’ of data - such as a flash drive or a cloud-based solution. The whole concept of backups is based on snapshot technology, which is where copies of data are taken at a predetermined point in time and stored in a particular order. Old backups may be replaced by new backups, but usually, each set will be treated as a separate piece of data.

Backups ensure that there is zero loss of critical data or production data in the event of a disaster, such as the data becoming corrupt or deleted. When this happens, a historical version will be needed in order to access a usable copy of the data. This is where backups come in - they ensure there is an intact, usable copy.

Data replication, on the other hand, is when data has been copied and transferred to another platform or drive. Unlike backups, which are historical versions of data, replicated copies are literally exact, word-for-word, code-for-code copies of the original file. Any changes made to your original copy will also be made to the replicated version in real-time. That means if something goes wrong and all of your original data is erased, so will your replicated version. You can’t rely on it as a backup.

Replication drastically reduces the Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) of a company because it allows instant access to the exact copy of the data file you might have lost. This then means businesses experience very little data loss - as long as that replicated copy isn’t corrupted.

However, replication requires both time and money. You need another identical system to your original platform to hold your replicated files. Plus, replication is time-consuming. This can then double your IT costs. In contrast, backups are a largely automated process so in most cases, you don’t have to manually create them (unlike replicated files) - your files will be backed up automatically as you work.



What is the difference between RPO and RTO?

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) are two of the most important measurable factors in a Disaster Recovery Plan. They guide companies on which backup plan they should choose for optimal recovery.

Recovery Point Objective refers to the time between data backups and the amount of data that could potentially be lost in between these backups. This depends on the individual company and their capacity. For example, if they can afford to lose a day’s work, RPO will often be set at 24 hours.

RPO allows businesses to know up to what point in time their Disaster Recovery Plan can still proceed smoothly, given the volume of data lost during that period of time.

Recovery Time Objective refers to the duration of time within which a company or business process must be restored after a disaster in order to avoid undesirable consequences (that come after a break in business continuity). The goal here is to calculate how quickly your company needs to recover. This can then help you determine what you need to prepare and how much budget you need to assign to restoring business continuity.

For example, if your RTO is five hours, that means your company can survive for this long with systems being down. Because it’s a short period of time, you’ll likely have to invest more time and money to ensure your systems can be recovered quickly. If your RTO is a month, you won’t need to invest as much time and money.


Are back-ups and archives the same thing?

Like with backups and data replication, backups and archives are often thought to be similar because they both involve storing copied data. But the two were designed with different purposes in mind.

Like we mentioned earlier, backups are historical copies of data that are meant to act as a failsafe in the event of equipment failure, a virus attack or other catastrophe. Backups are often required instantly in emergencies so businesses can get back up and running as soon as possible.

Data archives, on the other hand, are meant to act as a repository for data that needs to be stored for long periods of time - such as decades. Unlike backups, they don’t need to be accessed urgently because they’re designed for long-term data retention.


How is Disaster Recovery in the cloud different to other methods?

Cloud-based Disaster Recovery is different from the traditional method of transferring to a physical backup disk or drive. Instead of your backups being stored in a physical hard drive, they’ll be stored in the cloud on the internet, so it’s essentially a virtual hard drive.

One of the main benefits of a cloud-based plan, among others, is that it doesn’t take up any physical space. This can make a cloud-based solution a much more cost-effective option because you don’t have to buy more physical space to accommodate the extra storage systems you might need or spend money on electrical and maintenance bills. With a cloud-based solution, you just buy more virtual cloud space when you need more. 

Another major benefit is that you can access these backup files wherever you are, thanks to the cloud location. Employees don’t need to be physically present in your office - they can access your server from home or any other remote location, as long as they have access to Wi-Fi. There are, of course, several precautions you should take if you want your cloud server to be as secure as possible.


I have a lot of data – will the recovery time be too long?

The amount of time it takes to recover data depends on the problem, not just the number of files. Generally, recovery should only take two to five days, but a Disaster Recovery specialist needs to take a look and diagnose the problem in order to get a better estimate of the time needed.

They will consider:

  • The size of your hard drive - of course, the bigger the drive, whether physically or logically, the longer the recovery process as more time will be needed to correctly clone a larger device’s data
  • The model or series of the hard drive
  • The type and size of the files
  • The environment your computers were operated in - for example, hot environmental conditions cause more physical damage to drives, which can lengthen the recovery time



How can I be sure it will work when I need it the most?

You can be sure your Disaster Recovery plan will work by ensuring you follow some best practices.

These include:

  • Testing your plan. Like fire drills, you need to check that your Disaster Recovery plan will work by testing it and ensuring everyone is following the steps properly
  • Ensure that your Disaster Recovery tools work across a variety of platforms, applications and software. There is no point in having a recovery plan if it’s not compatible with your systems
  • Update the tools regularly. This ensures you always have the latest version of your recovery software so you’re less likely to experience hiccups in your recovery process
  • Backup at regular intervals. In fact, backup all the time. You never know when disaster might strike and that one time you don’t backup because “it’ll be fine!” might be the one time a virus attacks and you lose all of your work. And without backups, you can’t recover very well, if at all
  • Manage who has access to your sensitive files and their relevant backups. Only allow access to authorised members and keep a note of who can modify them



Do I have enough bandwidth to support cloud backup?

You need to find out what your network capacity is by looking at how many users are on your network and how much internet-required activity goes on - for example, emails sent and received, media streaming, uploads and downloads, Google searches, and so on. Then, match that to your bandwidth needs. After all, a bigger bandwidth means less time waiting for downloads and uploads and more time being productive, doing non-recovery-plan-related tasks.

You should also review your RPO, how often you want to send data offsite and how much of your bandwidth you’re willing to allocate to this task.


Where is my data actually stored?

Cloud computing involves taking data from your own personal little space and placing it in a special section of the internet. Nothing will be stored in your local hard drive, but you can still access this data from any location using any device at any time.
Although this data is stored virtually for you, it still needs to be physically stored on a hard drive somewhere. Companies that offer cloud-based services have huge server farms, which are essentially enormous, cavernous warehouses filled with servers that are running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.



How do I access my DR services?

First, you can use a VPN client to access your Disaster Recovery systems from any computer. This will securely log you into your recovery systems as though you were in your office. This is a great option if you need to access your systems but you are not in the office.

The alternative is to use a secure shell (SSH) tunnel to connect your office to the Disaster Recovery systems. Tunneling is a protocol that allows for the secure movement of data from one network to another. In data security and recovery, it will allow easy access to your data storage centres. You should also have multiple backup tunnels which can become active whenever a primary tunnel fails.
Cloud-based services store data in a virtual ‘cloud’, they require an internet connection to be able to transfer this data. Of course, the stronger the connectivity and the higher the bandwidth, the faster your data can be backed up, uploaded onto the cloud, and downloaded in the case of a disaster.

With a Silverbug-hosted Data Backup & Disaster Recovery system, you can access it from anywhere as long as you have a reasonable internet connection. This can work even if you were at home on a work computer.

 

Who manages and monitors the DR service and replication?

You can do it yourself or you can set up automated Disaster Recovery monitoring tools that do this for you. These tools are extremely helpful because they can monitor the changes that happen in data storage environments and notify you of them so you can be ready for a potential disaster.

You could have:

  • Tools that store the information you’ve collected about your plan, which you can use to create planning documents
  • Tools that help you set up scenarios, so you’re prepared for a variety of circumstances. They can automatically create backups of your data for you
  • Tools that monitor the data processes that are going on - for example, creating ongoing reports on the process of data backups so you’re constantly aware of what stage the backup process is at

It’s always best to seek advice from an IT expert or utilise their disaster recovery services.



Speak to an Expert

 

A disaster can happen at any moment, therefore, having a disaster recovery solution will deliver reliable data protection and protects servers to further safeguard the future of your business.

Should the worst happen, our experts will execute your tailored disaster recovery plan, ensuring a smooth recovery of your business data at no loss.

Get advice from IT consultants who have designed and implemented Data Backup & Disaster Recovery systems for companies in the UK and worldwide.

 


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