Why Backups and Redundancy are Critical
Backups and redundancy both protect your business against data loss and other failures, but they work in different ways. At their simplest, backups stop data loss from being an irreversible problem, while redundancy prevents failures from interrupting your business activity. While sometimes posed as an either/or issue, backups and redundancy are both critical parts of any business continuity strategy.
A backup is not simply a second (or third, or fourth) copy of your data. It’s specifically a copy of your data that will still exist, and you can still access, after the first copy is lost or damaged.
This factor means some backups are more effective than others. For example, you may have a real-time backup that replicates your hard drive. This is fine if your hard drive fails, but it doesn’t solve the problem if you accidentally delete a file and don’t notice until the backup file is also deleted as part of replicating the drive.
Physical backups kept in the same place as the original copies can also be less useful. If your computer is rendered unusable by a fire or flood, your backup disk may also be unusable. That’s why the most effective backups often involve reproducing data on a remote server (your own or a third-party service). Backups can also use a mix of exact copies of your original files and sequential copies, which means you can go back in time and retrieve the files as they were before they were damaged, deleted, or altered.
Redundancy means duplicating some part of your operation, such as files, applications, servers, or network connections. While “redundancy” sounds negative, it’s actually a good thing. The point of having the “redundant” copy that you don’t need when everything is working normally is that you do have the duplication immediately on hand if something goes wrong.
You can use redundancy in many different contexts and different scales. For example, one of the simplest forms of redundancy is to have a hard drive set up with the main drive and one or more duplicate drives that update in real time. The idea is that if your main drive should ever fail, the duplicate drive can kick into action immediately. That saves you the lost work time that would come from restoring a backup.
Other examples of redundancy include a network configuration where data automatically reroutes if a cable or connection fails. A backup power supply such as a generator is also a redundancy to cover against a power outage.
Adequate backups mean you can be confident of retrieving data after damage to the original files, but it could involve interruption to your workflow. Redundancy limits or removes interruption to your operations after a failure, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee data remains intact.
The only way to be sure you’ve done everything to protect against failures and interruptions is to use a mix of backups and redundancy. Call CPI Solutions today to find out why backups and redundancy are critical to your business and how we can help implement them into your IT strategy.