Data Backup Technologies
Data backup is a critical field of information technology in that it insures the safety and recoverability of critical information in the event of failure or error. Sources suggest that as many as 65% of internet users have suffered from serious data loss. Data backup relies on two disparate yet co-dependent technologies, namely backup storage and backup software.
Backup storage technologies have proliferated and grown substantially since their humble beginnings in the 1950s. During this early phase of computing, punch cards were used in addition to printers to output data. These punch cards could then be used to restore data that was lost. As such, this system could be referred to as the world’s first data backup technology. This was almost immediately joined, and eventually superseded, by magnetic tape technology.
Magnetic tapes could store amounts of data equal to thousands of punch cards which immediately made the technology very popular. Other advantages of magnetic tapes were its capacity, reliability and relatively low cost, advantages which continue to make magnetic tapes a viable and effective backup technology in the 21st century
Although the first hard drives were introduced in the mid 1950s, it was not until the early 1990s that their increasing capacity, reduced cost and improved reliability made them a viable alternative for backups. Today, with the advent of Solid-State Drives (SSDs), hard drives continue to be an ever more reliable and cost-effective backup technology.
When floppy disks were first unveiled in the early 1970’s, they were considered a revolutionary form of transferring data from one computer to another. As the capacity of these portable disks increased they began to be used for backup purposes although they never superseded magnetic tapes in the backup sphere. With the release of new portable media, namely Compact Disc (CD) and Digital Versatile Disc (DVD), they quickly became obsolete.
CD-Recordable (CD-R) and CD-Rewritable (CD-RW) media entered the market in the early 1990s. While initially too costly to be an affordable backup option, they rapidly became very widespread as their cost fell drastically. By the new millennium they had replaced floppy disks as the primary backup medium for home users and small businesses. The introduction of DVD technology in the late 1990s and then the even higher capacity Blu-ray media in 2006 has merely strengthened the position of these removable disks as a vital backup medium for home and small office users.
In addition to traditional physical media, another area that has been of significant importance to backup is the introduction and proliferation of the Local Area Network (LAN) as well as the Internet. The proliferation of LANs in the late 1980s and early 1990s opened up a new avenue for backup, specifically the ability to backup from a computer to another location via the LAN. This also encouraged remote backup from a central location whilst promoting the advancement of technologies such as centralized backup management and off-site backup. There were also a number of technologies directly descended from the LAN which greatly affected backup. These technologies such as FTP, Network Area Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Networks (SAN) have greatly improved the flexibility, performance and reliability of backup.
One area of backup technology which has grown significantly in the first decade of the 21st century is online storage. Thanks to the proliferation of the internet, reduced data transfer costs and faster, more reliable internet connection methods; the number of online storage services has increased substantially in the last decade. The online storage service is in essence a hybrid of the two distinct technologies required by data backup – backup storage and backup software. As the backup storage is controlled and maintained by the service provider the only element visible to the customer is the “software” side of the system. This removes the costs and overhead of the backup storage hardware. Because the data is stored off-site, there is also the added advantage of disaster recovery in the event of catastrophic failure.
Even in the earliest days of backup, there was some form of “software” or control system to allow users to create backups. In recent years, vast advances have been made in the features and functionality of backup software solutions. Features such as block-level backup, disk-cloning, data compression, open file backup, scheduling and encryption are becoming the standard in current backup solutions by a wide range of vendors. QBS Software Ltd is a reseller and distributor for a number of these vendors, including but not limited to:
Computer Associates is a multinational software company that publishes hundreds of products in many categories. Their core backup solution, ARCserve Backup, boasts features such as data deduplication, virtualized server protection as well as centralized management and administration. It is a cost effective, agent-based solution for medium-sized and large enterprises.
Symantec is one of the world’s leading software companies. With its acquisition of Veritas in 2005, Symantec acquired their primary business backup solution, BackupExec. BackupExec features continuous data protection for Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL Server as well as centralized management and support for virtual machines. Its agent-based licensing scheme scales well for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and large enterprises.
Acronis and its well-known product family, Acronis True Image, specialise in disk cloning and imaging software. This software allows you to restore an exact replica of your disk on another disk or computer. True Image’s per-client licensing scheme is targeted at anything from home users to large corporate enterprises and includes functionality such as advanced encryption, data deduplication, advanced scheduling and centralized management.
After its acquisition of Yosemite Technologies in early 2009, Barracuda Networks is now publishing Yosemite Server and Yosemite Desktop Backup. Yosemite Server Backup is a cross-platform server backup application that supports Microsoft Exchange and SQL servers. It allows for “Bare Metal Restores” and features efficient encryption and compression algorithms. Its licensing structure allows for anything from a single server to an unlimited usage license.
Novastor’s flagship product, NovaBACKUP, features local and online backup, disk imaging, scheduling, and centralized management. It is available in three distinct flavours aimed at workstations and servers in addition to a small-business specific version.
Farstone’s Drive Clone range of software boasts features like “Universal Restore” (a form of bare metal restore), advanced scheduling, compression and encryption, and centralized management. It is offered in five versions ranging from the single-user version for the home user, to the Enterprise Server Edition aimed at SMEs. With the ever-expanding need for secure, functional and reliable backup solutions combined with the current economic climate’s need for cost-efficiency, it is imperative to make the right choice when selecting a backup solution. QBS Software Ltd will ensure that making that choice for your enterprise is quick, painless and cost-effective.