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Rodney Tyler Outlines the Difference Between a Data Backup Plan and the Correct Data Backup Plan

September 29, 2010

Is Having a Data Backup Plan Enough

One of the most critical assets in business today is data. When you have an asset as critical as data you need to protect it. Most companies recognize this need and have backup and recovery plans in place. But, when the survival of your business depends on your data backup and recovery, do you have the correct plan?

Data backup and recovery plans consist of anything from corporate-owned facilities and mirrored data to rented space and tape backup. The options your company chooses to use are often determined by your resources and budget, as opposed to a quality, efficient plan. The key to surviving and thriving is to find an option that is both high in quality and economically feasible.

Tape, Mirroring and Vaulting

Backing up to tape is a popular way of safe guarding data. Tape is an excellent media with which to archive data because it is inexpensive and can handle large volumes of data – but when it comes to recovery, tape is not ideal. Tape often has a longer recovery process than companies predict in their Recovery Time Objective (RTO) outlined in their Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). It is also prone to unreliability, failure and human error.

Another option is the mirroring of data. Mirroring allows for safe backups and a speedier recovery time, but is quite expensive and often not feasible for most companies.

Outside of tape and mirroring some companies have considered vaulting, which also has drawbacks. For many, vaulting may be too expensive for their large data storage requirements, possibly dealing with several terabytes in each backup. This amount of data requires a larger amount of bandwidth, which makes vaulting an insufficient solution.

So, what can you do to backup and recover your data? What alternatives exist between tape, mirroring or vaulting?

What To Consider

Speed is crucial to recovery for two reasons. First, consider logistics. How fast can you actually receive your data so that physical restoration of data can begin? This logistic timeframe must be figured into your RTO expectations. Second, consider how fast you can actually perform a restore of your data.


How quickly will you have access to the off-site backup data so that restores can begin? If you have not factored in this time, your recovery plan has a hole. Building, owning and maintaining an in-house fleet for this purpose is very expensive, thus many companies look to vendors/partners. Logistics can be easily overlooked when considering outsourcing partners, so it is recommended that companies look for vendors who own and maintain such a delivery infrastructure.

Large-scale, regional disasters have taught us that relying on common carriers and shippers can be dangerous because they can be subject to the same wide-spread disaster. Local carriers and resources are typically hired out right after the event, thus unavailable. Choosing a vendor who has a dedicated fleet to deliver products and services is the most desirable option.


After confronting the logistics of your recovery plan, it is then crucial to tackle how you will actually restore your data. This is dictated by the backup method, which is often troublesome when trying to find the right one.

A growing trend in the industry is to switch to a Virtual Tape Library (VTL) for backup and recovery. Data stored on the VTL can be de-duplicated to save vast amounts of storage space – many IT managers note that storage is their number one IT investment and that it grows every year. Furthermore, the data remains on a hard drive, so when a restore is needed it happens as a disk-to-disk restore – much faster than traditional tape restores.

Many companies who tested this recovery method met their stated RTOs for the first time. Prudent backup managers utilize services that allow for a backup VTL appliance at their primary location and then a target VTL at an off-site location, allowing data to be safely transmitted and stored away from their primary facility. Many choose to out-source this to vendors/partners, but should choose vendors who own and maintain a suitable off-site infrastructure and logistics and support for their data.

Not only is the VTL an excellent solution for fast data recovery but it also provides day-to-day production benefits.  A local VTL can reduce file restore times from days to minutes – recent data can be easily retrieved from a local cache.  This frees up the backup operator’s time and makes a happy end user who is able to access their deleted information much faster. 

VTL also reduces backup window timeframes.  Users who arrive early are not slowed down due to running tape backup operations. Any long term, archival needs can be quickly identified and sent right to tape, then stored per the normal process.


Rentsys Recovery Services provides complete solutions for companies that face the very dilemmas mentioned. Rentsys Recovery owns and maintains regional data centers where clients can backup their critical data with FLEXDATA®, Rentsys Recovery’s complete data backup and recovery service.

Rentsys Recovery provides the backup and target VTL appliances to clients. The backup data is kept at a secure Rentsys Recovery facility and when needed, the data is transferred to a quickship recovery appliance and sent to the client.

Over the years, Rentsys Recovery has built a logistical infrastructure and has the internal ability to send the data appliance to any location in the contiguous United States, foregoing the need to rely on third party carriers. Rentsys Recovery also provides workspace, fixed-site and mobile recovery, allowing companies to have access to a complete solution for their Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity needs.

About the Author

Rodney Tyler has been in the Disaster Recovery Industry for more than a decade and has helped Fortune 500 companies develop business recovery strategies. He resides in Navasota, TX with his wife and two children.

Original article published online by usfst.com in March 2010