Backup devices and appliances are taking the hassle out of deciding where to keep your backups. Whether you like your appliances in ice white or brushed steel, they’re not all made the same. Seeing that they don’t come cheap, choosing too hastily can cause all sorts of headaches and frustration.
A portable hard drive can certainly be classified as a backup device. However, this caters more for the home user market with various size options available and sporting features like wireless transfer and disk encryption. But as far as backup devices go, you’re being serious about backups and disaster recovery when procuring a dedicated, multi-terabyte, fully redundant and optimised piece of hardware.
At ComputerWeekly.com, they did a product survey recently explaining what big contenders in the appliance market have to offer. Here are the factors you need to consider when deciding who to buy:
Disk space: This will largely depend on the type of appliance you’re looking for i.e. desktop or rack-mounted. A rack-mounted device typically accommodates larger disk drives – up to 130 TB. Smaller models can have as low as 1 TB. RAID should come standard with these types of backup devices.
Network connectivity: Depending on the size of your network, a decent throughput is key. Gigabit Ethernet are standard NICs across the board, varying between 1 and 10 GbE. Higher-end models provide multiple high-speed Fibre Channel ports at up to 8 Gbps.
Encryption: You would want to look for at least a FIPS-compliant 256 bit AES encryption capability. AES facilitates the use of encryption and decryption with the same key and the FIPS stamp-of-approval means it’s good enough for government usage. Deciding to keep backups in encrypted form is great for security but reduces performance.
Preinstalled Backup Software: Any appliance provider worth their salt will improve the overall backup service by providing software that facilitates this. Consider the value of the software you get pre-installed on the appliance. Ideally it will be provided for free which can equate to savings of thousands of pounds per month, especially with unlimited licences bundled in.
Syncing backups offsite or to the cloud: If you already have a hybrid-cloud environment, a backup appliance could be a perfect fit. By making use of cloud-syncing features in the backup software and having a decent network connection, your backups can be created at regular intervals and then synced off-site. This also doubles as a disaster recovery measure. If no syncing capability exists, at the very least you should be able to archive backups periodically, even if by way of tape or portable storage.
Space saving: Deduplication technology results in optimised disk usage. It essentially only stores the same piece of data once. For example, deduplication on the file level will store the same file backed up from various employees only once. This can prolong the use of your appliance and prevent the need for additional hardware.
Onsite support: Configuring and maintaining backups for your business can be a nightmare. This is where onsite support comes in handy. With skilled technicians initially setting up your backup accounts for all data sources (laptops, servers, etc.), they’ll be able to implement your business requirements more effectively. Most providers should also offer some sort of technical support for hardware too.
If you’re planning to back up several terabytes of data, a dedicated backup appliance is definitely the more cost effective solution compared to using cloud backups. Hopefully these guidelines will come in handy when making a decision on which option to go for.
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