Backup Solutions

Recovering lost data

So, you have lost your data. What now? This is a question that we all face at one time or another. There are a lot of options out there but I find after everything is said and done it’s really what you do before that counts. I have to admit that for the first ten or fifteen years that I worked with computers I was a Windows user and got used to having that ever loving BSOD appear and the only thing that I could do was hope I had saved the data I had been working on for the last few days saved to a disk somewhere. Once I found the disk, I would reinstall the OS, all the applications and then restore the data.

These days I have turned away from using Windows, and at the moment I am using Kubuntu. This works well and does what I need it to do, but the same problem still is there, or at least was there. Where and how do I backup or store my data? The answer came in two parts that overlap to a certain degree: When I install my OS on my PC or Server, at this point, I support clients with medium sized networks.

I follow the same steps:

1. Find out what the PC or Server is being used for.
2. Install the OS and any other applications that will be needed.
3. Configure any files that need to be modified for network access.
4. Restore any files or directories that are required.
5. Verify that the system is to the liking of the person that required it.
6. Most important – take a snap shot of the system for recovery purposes.

After consulting with a few firms before opening my own business, and then dealing with businesses myself, I find that the step that is most overlooked is step six. The reason for this is that people think that there is no way that this new system will break in any way, but it is the most important step because it is the one step that’s going to save you time and money when that new system that you just purchased fails. Step six is broken down into three sub steps:

a) How is the backup being stored;

b) How often is that backup being taken; and finally

c) Is there a backup of the new files that is being made on this system so time is saved on recovery.

Save time with this step:

We are going to focus on step six. So sit back, grab that favorite cup of whatever and keep reading.

There are a few ways that you can save yourself time when going though step six. There are off-site options and on-site options. I am not saying that one is better than the other. What I am saying is why can’t a combination of both be the answer? After working in the Windows world for a few years and then being introduced to the Unix world I have come up with an on/off site solution that will allow you to easily recover in a matter of hours rather than days. This solution is a two stage solution which allows you to have both a file server and an image archive on-site.

As mentioned we put in place a server that will be locally on your network that acts as a file server, which all your clients (whether Windows or Mac) backup to and then is attached to our servers. It then sends a copy over SSH for the off site part of the recovery plan. We use the archiving side of the server to speed up the recovery of a damaged system. This side of the server is not touched unless our clients instruct differently. We do not do a full backup over the Internet. Instead, after the server is installed, we bring a small server on to your network temporarily to take a full backup which is then taken to a data warehouse. At that point it is uploaded onto your server and only the files that are being changed will need to be moved over the internet.

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