Your Old Backup Disks Are Obsolete

Learn how new online technology can help give you and your business peace of mind.

Are you swapping those little backup tape or disk cartridges on your server and taking them offsite like you’re supposed to? When was the last time you let them roast or freeze in your car overnight on their way offsite? Did you accidentally carry them together with those refrigerator magnets that you just got in the mail? Even if you’ve handled them with care, how sure are you that you’ll be able to restore your data with them? And how up-to-date will that data be? The real question is: Is your critical computer data reliably backed up?

We’ve all at one time or another forgotten to put in a fresh cartridge or forgotten to take the cartridge offsite. But luckily for most of us, nothing goes wrong and a backup isn’t needed.

But still we worry.

I’m sure that there are many reading this who have had to deal with tape failures during a backup or a failure that occurred when restoring this file or that file. The messages that always bothered me when I watched a backup in progress were the “File in Use: Skipped” messages. These mean that that the file in question won’t be on the backup tape I’m using. The possibility that one of those files will be critical in recovering from a catastrophe has always nagged at me.

It also bothered me that my state-of-the-art server and software I recently had installed still relied on 1980s magnetic tape technology for backup. I don’t know about you, but it’s been years since I’ve listened to music on cassette tapes. And those tape drives and tapes are expensive! I remember spending $34 for a set of tapes at an office supply store just a little while ago. And you’re supposed to clean the tape drive periodically. What other part of your server requires periodic cleaning?

Fortunately, tapes and disks are no longer the only way to backup a server. There are now online backup solutions that, for a small monthly fee, automatically whisk your data offsite to a secure location and let you restore any file or an entire server with just a few clicks of your mouse. They use the unused bandwidth of your existing Internet connection.

“It’s only a matter of time before all backups and restores go the way of an online service,” says Jim Idema in an article in Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine where he reviewed the backup service called LiveVault offered by Iron Mountain Digital. It’s reliable, secure, easy to implement, and easy to use, he concluded.

Your server is already connected to the Internet, so there’s no additional hardware to buy and install. My initial worries when I first looked into this service were twofold: How secure was the transmission of my data across the Internet, and how secure was the site where the data was stored? The answer to both, I found out, was very secure. For transmission through the LiveVault service, 1024 bit keys are specifically generated for each of your servers to control AES encrypted transmission across VPN Tunnel technology. And the LiveVault service transmits the data from your server directly to secure locations at Iron Mountain.

Because the backup agent software sits between the operating system and the disk controller, it knows when anything changes and can thus backup files even when they’re open. Your e- ail or database system does not have to shut down in order for it to be backed up; nor do you have to buy extra software that backup systems require to backup Microsoft Exchange e-mail or SQL Server or Oracle database files.

With the LiveVault subscription comes 24/7 monitoring of your backups as well as access to technicians to assist in you in setting up, and more importantly, to stand by to help during a recovery. If something interrupts your backup, they know right away, and they’ll contact you and assist in its resolution.

You just pay for backup. When you need them, heaven forbid, Internet-based restores are free. The monitoring is free. The technicians standing by are free. The LiveVault service is advanced enough to quickly restore to dissimilar hardware configurations. (Ask your systems engineer the trouble he or she went through during some previous catastrophe to ensure that the replacement disk drives were of the same manufacturer and model number, etc.). And best of all, data recovery is guaranteed. Can you ask the same of your tape backups?

It’s an inexpensive, elegant solution to a long-standing information technology problem. Online backup—specifically LiveVault’s— is easy to implement, easy to monitor, and easy to recover with. Something less to worry about. Peace of mind.

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