How many times have you lost important files because your computer crashed? How many times did you accidentally delete an important file and were unable to retrieve it? A backup server is an excellent method to store and save a backup of your important files. A backup server enables you to save hundreds of your important files and folders in a single compressed file. The best part of a backup server is that everyone can afford it. It is easy to transfer compressed files from the backup server to another computer and vice versa.
Many free backup servers do exist in the market, but they do not offer the high-quality features as a purchased backup server. A backup server can range from $50 to $500 and more depending on its capacity and usage. For an individual, a mere $50 is a small price for safekeeping important records, files and reports. In addition, any computer savvy person can upload a backup file using a built-in feature of your server known as ftp function for convenient and safe off-site storage.
It is important to highlight the fact that backup servers are mostly compatible to PCs and not Macs. All files and folders need to be closed before starting the backup process.
Features of Backup Servers
Backup servers are popular at all levels of business and personal requirements. This is because of the following features that make it attractive second storage for precious data.
- Easy replication – Replicating a backup server is very easy and quick. It is the fastest way to protect sensitive information and data in the event of an unforeseen disaster. Many companies offer the services of backup servers. They operate 24×7, manage and monitor all the information, alert the customer of any disturbance in the backup server and keep the information safe. If you already have a backup server, you can create another offsite backup server just to be on the safe end in case of any disaster.
- Private cloud storage – Cloud computing is becoming very popular. Given the benefits, it is now also used as a storage space. Private cloud storages are offered by many companies that enable the customer to have complete control over their information and its storing place. Companies usually offer three basic options for creating a private cloud storage using site-to-site replication technology.
- Replication on a company’s backup server – each server in this category stores data locally and then transmits it to an offsite data storage facility in other locations.
- Replication of data from backup servers from different locations to one centralized backup server.
- Replication of data or information from one backup server to multitude of servers.
There are many large organizations that require a high level of backup storage with high level of security. Private cloud storage lets the administrators of such companies combine the above options and deploy them in the cloud world. It does, however, have a high subscription fee. The multi-option feature allows a company to have the best of both worlds – onsite or online backup of data for fast retrieving and offsite storage for disaster recovery purposes.
- Advanced storage – Many companies offer advanced backup storage features that allow organizations to save time and money and also help them in adhering to the rules of backup storage. A method called ‘deduplication’ is used at the block level to reduce the backup storage requirements by almost 30 times. It also helps reduce the bandwidth requirements and windows backup requirements.
The advanced backup server storage has the following features:
- Backup storage is made efficient using deduplication
- A redundant system for disk-based storage
- Access from different location using the web interface
- High quality data retention policies
- Restoring the server through FTP, Web or Windows software
Data deduplication refers to a method of data reduction established around a method that systematically supplements reference points for redundant data segments or blocks in certain data sets. A backup server mostly has this method integrated in its system. The field of data reduction still lacks a standard definition as the field is still in the emerging stages. Data reduction approaches can also be termed as data deduplication approach without using variable length segments.
The purpose of deduplication is to increase the storing capacity of the information on the disk arrays as well as to increase the amount of data or information that is transferred over the networks upon requests. Deduplication possesses the capability to provide higher level of granularity compared to single-instance technologies that do not store repeated instances of files and folders.
A survey conducted by Toluna for IT professionals in the United States found that the time spent to restore a file costs companies around $9.5 billion. With deduplication, data restoration is done efficiently saving the companies $6 billion. These figures highlight the gains that deduplication feature in a backup server may bring to companies and individuals.
Using deduplication method, a single file or dataset is not stored in contiguous or sequential blocks. In case of a backup server being used as RAID storage, the files are written on different blocks that are then striped across various disk systems.
- Software agents – Software agents are commonly referred to as backup software that is used to perform the process of backup. Using software agents, you can easily create exact file copies, database copies or entire computer application and files copies. These copied files are than used to restore the original data in case of data loss.
- Offsite storage – Offsite storage refers to a remote physical facility or site that provides protective storage for microfilm, magnetic/optical media, paper records and much more. Some companies rent out space on tapes and hard drives to have a backup storage of the information. This information is downloaded by customers over various networks allowing them to have access to the information.
Having an offsite data storage facility is the best way to ensure integrity in case of an unforeseen event. The way data is taken as backup is important. When a backup server is first installed, it will ‘by default’ take an initial backup of the data selected and store it in a local location. An advanced cataloging system shreds this backed up data into small pieces and tracks any changes to ensure that duplicate data is not retained in the system. This minimizes the bandwidth and storage costs.
In order to create an offsite backup storage of data, a server transmits the data to one or more secure data centers through the Internet which is encrypted. After the data is transferred, it is compressed and stored in the servers.
- Collaboration features – Backup servers are built in a way that they can collaborate with files and folders on a company’s or individual’s network drive. It is sometimes called briefcase. You can view and access the same backup files on your home or office computer or share the file with colleague and work on it together. With backup server, each employee can have its own private space with each having their own part of folders on which they work together.
- Sharing features – With backup servers, sharing files is easy. Any business that operates a backup server will have access to its own private web portal which can be customized with company profile, brand, or logo. This server can be shared with other partners over the Internet with a click of few buttons. Such a feature offers great alternative to email and FTP where security is sometimes a matter. It gives the files and folders a professional sharing touch.
- Sync features – Some backup servers have the ability to sync files between different computers. This means that if you are working in an office, you can use multiple computers from different locations to access the files – whether you are traveling or are at home.
- Storage features – Backup storage allows you to have access to FTP, SFTP and other storage features that anyone can use to setup their own FTP server in a matter of minutes.
- Security – All the data in the backup server is encrypted with high levels of encryption before any transfer over SSL connection. Different companies offer different levels of security and encryption based on the type of storage server is required. Usually, every company maintains a SAS70 and ISO certifications. As the data is stored onsite and offsite, security of the data centers is of high importance. Many companies offer highly secured data centers with highest level of technology to protect the important and sensitive information stored in the backup servers. Such sites usually are temperature controlled to ensure that the servers do not run hot.