Backup Destination Types – Where to Store Your Data Backups?

Data is essential for both business and individual success in today’s digital world. A trustworthy backup destination is vital to any effective backup strategy because protecting this priceless asset is of the utmost importance. According to recent studies, data loss incidents have increased by 400% over the past few years, highlighting the urgency for effective backup solutions. Whether you prefer the familiarity of a file system, the efficiency of deduplication appliances, the scalability of object storage, the reliability of enterprise backup providers, or the legacy appeal of tape pools, this article will thoroughly discuss each option to help your decision-making.

Overview of Backup Destination

A backup destination is a safe storage location for data backups that guarantees businesses can restore important data even in the event of data loss or system failure. According to a recent study, 60% of businesses that experience a data loss event go out of business within six months. With a backup destination in place, you can rest knowing your data is secure and recoverable.

What to Consider Before Choosing a Backup Destination?

There are many different types of backup destinations available, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Popular backup destination options include file systems, deduplication appliances, object storage, enterprise backup providers, and tape pools. Here are some of the factors that organizations should consider when choosing a backup destination:

  • Cost: Backup destinations can range in price from free to very expensive. Organizations should consider their budget and their needs when choosing a backup destination.
  • Security: The backup destination should be secure and protect your data from unauthorized access. Organizations should look for a backup destination that offers encryption and other security features.
  • Accessibility: The backup destination should be accessible so that you can restore your data if needed. Organizations should choose a backup destination that offers good performance and uptime.
  • RPO and RTO: The backup destination should meet your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO). The RPO is the maximum amount of data loss that you can tolerate, and the RTO is the maximum amount of time that you can afford to be without your data.

Here are some additional factors that you may want to consider when choosing a backup destination:

  • Compliance requirements: If your organization is subject to compliance requirements, you will need to make sure that the backup destination meets those requirements.
  • Data retention: How long do you need to keep your backup data? Some backup destinations have limited data retention policies.
  • Scalability: As your organization grows, you may need to be able to scale your backup destination.

By considering all of these factors, you can choose a backup destination that will protect your data and meet your organization’s needs.

Overview of File Systems

The file system is one of the most common and accessible backup destinations. By leveraging existing storage infrastructure such as network-attached storage (NAS) or direct-attached storage (DAS), organizations can easily use file systems for their backups. Available options include Windows File History, macOS Time Machine, rsync, and Synology DiskStation.

Advantages of File Systems

  • Simplicity and familiarity: Using a file system as a backup destination provides a straightforward approach that aligns with users’ understanding of directories and files.
  • Low cost: File systems can be implemented using readily available hardware, minimizing additional expenses.
  • Quick and easy recovery: With file systems, restoring backups is usually straightforward, allowing users to retrieve their data quickly.
  • Versatility: File systems allow organizations to store various data types, including files, documents, databases, and application backups.

Limitations of File Systems

  • Limited scalability: File systems may face challenges scaling up to accommodate a growing amount of data. The hierarchical structure and limitations of hardware configurations can hinder expansion.
  • Vulnerability to hardware failures and ransomware attacks: As file systems are connected to the primary system, they may be susceptible to the same risks, potentially compromising the backup integrity.

 Overview of Deduplication Appliances

Deduplication appliances have gained significant traction recently due to their ability to optimize backup storage. These appliances identify and eliminate duplicate data blocks, resulting in substantial storage savings. Examples include Dell EMC Data Domain, Veritas NetBackup Appliance, HPE StoreOnce, and ExaGrid EX Series.

Advantages of Deduplication Appliances

  • Storage efficiency: Deduplication appliances eliminate redundant data, reducing the storage footprint required for backups. This optimization can lead to significant cost savings.
  • Bandwidth optimization: By storing unique data, deduplication appliances reduce the amount of data transferred during backup operations, minimizing network bandwidth requirements.
  • Faster backups: Deduplication appliances can expedite the backup process by reducing the amount of data that needs to be processed and stored.
  • Enhanced data integrity: With deduplication, organizations can achieve better data integrity by removing duplicate data blocks, reducing the chances of data corruption.

Limitations of Deduplication Appliances

  • Performance impact: The deduplication process requires computational resources and can impact backup and restore performance, particularly when dealing with large datasets.
  • Initial investment: Deduplication appliances often require a significant upfront investment, including the cost of hardware and licensing.

Overview of Object Storages

Object storage has emerged as a scalable and cost-effective backup destination, particularly for organizations dealing with massive amounts of data. Unlike traditional file systems, object storage provides a flat address space and unique identifiers for each piece of data, simplifying data management and enabling seamless scalability. Examples include Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service), Google Cloud Storage, Backblaze B2, and Wasabi.

Advantages of Object Storages

  • Scalability: Object storage handles massive data volumes, making it suitable for organizations with substantial growth requirements.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Object storage typically offers a pay-as-you-go pricing model, allowing organizations to align costs with their storage usage.
  • Durability: Object storage providers often replicate data across multiple data centers, ensuring high data durability and availability.
  • Geographical flexibility: With object storage, organizations can efficiently distribute their backup data across different geographic locations, enhancing data protection and disaster recovery capabilities.

Limitations of Object Storages

  • Access times: Retrieving data from object storage may involve additional latency compared to file systems, especially when dealing with large datasets or frequent access requests.
  • Learning curve: Object storage requires a different approach to data management, as it uses unique identifiers instead of traditional file paths.

Enterprise Backup Providers

For organizations with complex backup requirements, enterprise backup providers offer comprehensive solutions tailored to enterprise-grade data protection. These solutions offer centralized management, encryption, deduplication, and multi-site replication. Example: IBM Spectrum Protect.

Advantages of Backup Providers

  • Advanced features: Enterprise backup solutions provide robust features designed to meet the needs of large organizations, including policy-based management, advanced encryption, and support for various backup strategies.
  • Centralized control: Enterprises can benefit from a centralized backup management console, enabling streamlined monitoring, reporting, and control over backup operations.
  • Scalability: Enterprise backup providers offer scalable solutions to handle large and growing data volumes, ensuring that backup infrastructure can adapt to changing data requirements.
  • Compliance and regulatory support: Enterprise backup providers often offer features and capabilities that help organizations meet industry-specific compliance and regulatory requirements.
  • Enhanced data security: Enterprise backup solutions prioritize data security, with encryption, access controls, and authentication mechanisms to protect sensitive information.

Limitations of Backup Providers

  • Cost: Enterprise backup solutions often have higher price tags due to licensing fees, infrastructure requirements, and ongoing maintenance costs.
  • Complexity: Implementing and managing enterprise backup solutions may require specialized skills and training, potentially increasing the complexity of backup operations.
  • Resource-intensive: Enterprise backup solutions may require dedicated hardware or additional resources to support the backup infrastructure.

Tape Pools

Despite the prevalence of disk-based and cloud storage solutions, tape pools remain relevant in some scenarios. Tape provides an offline and immutable backup medium, ensuring data longevity and protection against ransomware attacks. Examples are Oracle StorageTek, IBM TS4500, Spectra Logic T950, and Quantum Scalar i6.

Advantages of Tape Pools

  • Long-term data retention: Tape is known for its durability, making it an ideal solution for archiving and compliance requirements where data storage is for an extended period.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Tape offers a low cost per gigabyte compared to disk-based storage options, making it an attractive choice for organizations with large data volumes.
  • Air-gap security: Tape backups provide an air-gap between the backup data and the online systems, reducing the risk of cyberattacks and unauthorized access.
  • Energy efficiency: Tape storage consumes less energy than disk-based storage, contributing to lower operational costs and reduced environmental impact.

Limitations of Tape Pools

  • Access times: Tape-based backups have slower access times compared to disk-based solutions, which may impact restore times in scenarios where rapid data retrieval is crucial.
  • Manual intervention: Tape backups typically require manual handling and off-site storage, adding an extra management layer compared to disk-based or cloud solutions.
  • Limited scalability: Tape systems may require additional physical infrastructure as data volumes grow, and managing multiple tape cartridges can take time and effort.

Final Thought

Selecting the right backup destination type is crucial for adequate data protection and disaster recovery. Each backup destination type has advantages and limitations, making it vital to align your choice with your needs and requirements. By evaluating the benefits of file systems, deduplication appliances, object storage, enterprise backup providers, and tape pools, you can determine the most suitable backup destination for your organization.

Remember that Storware Backup and Recovery provides unmatched data storage flexibility. It allows you to easily integrate with storage such as file-system, object storage, tape pools or can act as a proxy for Enterprise Backup Providers.

Remember to consider scalability, performance, cost-effectiveness, data security, and regulatory compliance. With a well-chosen backup destination, you can ensure your valuable data’s safety, availability, and recoverability.

text written by:

Łukasz Błocki, Professional Services Architect