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    Digging into the Back Up Myths

    Posted on by Michael Otey in Amazon Web Services, Backup & Storage, and Microsoft Azure

    Backup is the foundation of all disaster recovery (DR) plans. If you encounter some type of system or site failure, backups are your final line of defense and can make the difference between being able to restore your IT services and extended downtime. Even though everyone performs backups, there are still a number of myths that persist about the process. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main backup myths.

    You only need to back up your data

    Some smaller businesses, in particular, make the mistake of thinking that they really only need to back up the data that changes like their files and documents. Smaller businesses often don’t have a lot of excess storage capacity and reducing what you backup to just your documents and other frequently changing can be appealing. It reduces the amount of storage required as well as the backup time. However, in the event of a system failure, it drastically increases the recovery time because you would need to essentially build a replacement system and reinstall an OS and any required applications as well as perform configuration. Having a full system or VM backup enables you to be up and running much faster.

    Doing a local backup is all you really need

    While performing a local on-premises backup is certainly a requirement it does not enough provide you with complete DR protection. It’s true that your local backup will be the one that you will use for most restore operations. However, it does not provide protection from site failure. The 3-2-1 rule of backup essentially states that you should have at least three copies of your data. You should store your backup copies on two different types of media and at least one backup copy offsite. The 3-2-1 rule protects you from media failure as well as site failure.

    If your backup succeeds you’re protected

    Backup success is certainly better than a backup failure. However, just having a successful backup isn’t enough to ensure that you can restore the backup. There can be a number of reasons that you can’t restore a successful backup. Even if you use backup verification as a part of your backup process that’s no guarantee that your backups can be restored. For example, a media failure or a device failure could prevent your backups from being restored.  A recent Dell EMC study showed that 27 percent of the respondents had cases where they were unable to recover data using their existing data protection solutions. The only way to be sure that your backups can be restored is to actually test the restore process – at least periodically. Some backup products have the ability to automatically test restores for you.

    Your backups are safe from ransomware and malware

    Backups are certainly one of the best protections from ransomware and other malware attacks. However, just having a backup doesn’t mean that you’re protected against ransomware. Ransomware has evolved and several stains of today’s ransomware are capable of actually targeting backups. These strains of ransomware can use worms to move through your networks and once they are established they can potentially corrupt any local backup. Using air-gapped backups – where there is a physical separation of the backups from your network — is the best way to secure your backups against potential ransomware attacks. It’s also recommended that you use different authentication for your air-gapped backups as an additional layer of security.

    The cloud is too slow to use as a backup target

    Today, the cloud has become a very viable backup target. However, some people think that the cloud is too slow to use as a backup target. The fact is that cloud storage itself can be very fast. However, the overall backup speed is governed by your bandwidth to the cloud and many times the downstream bandwidth is significantly higher than the upstream bandwidth. This can be adjusted depending on the agreement with your ISP. For higher speed requirements there are direct cloud connections like Azure ExpressRoute and AWS Direct Connect. In addition, If you’re considering using the cloud as a backup target remember that it’s essential to make sure that you encrypt the data that’s in transit.

    Backing up to tape is outdated

    Tapes have been around forever and they certainly aren’t the most advanced backup technology available these days. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be a part a part of your DR strategy. In fact, because of threats like ransomware tape backups have made something of a recent comeback. While not as fast as disk or cloud backups, tapes have very high capacity, they are stored offline and today many business are using them for long term archiving and data protection. Offline tape storage can provide protection from ransomware and can also help meet certain regulatory requirements.

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