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Posts Tagged ‘data storage’


The Three Copies Rule: Why You Need Two Backups

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

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Anyone who has ever lost years of work due to computer failure will tell you that backing up your devices can save you considerable heartache and frustration. Reliable, redundant, and regular data backups are your business’s best strategy for disaster recovery—but two copies of your data may not be enough.

IT pros across the world have developed the “3-2-1” backup philosophy to maximize your restoration capacity following a data disaster.

The “3-2-1” Concept

The “3-2-1” approach is simple:

  1. Store three copies of your data.
  2. Utilize multiple storage formats.
  3. Keep one copy off-location.

TrendLabs says that having two backups of your data (meaning three copies total) is all about redundancy. IT professionals have nightmares about experiencing computer or server failure and preparing to restore the backup, only to find that the backup has failed as well. Your business can prevent this situation only by keeping two backup copies of all your important data.

We can’t stress often enough that three copies means three separate devices. Backing up data to a second hard drive in the same computer, or a connected SD card, does not count. This will only protect your data in the event that one of the hard drives breaks.

Some useful backup devices include:

  • External hard drives
  • NAS
  • Cloud storage
  • DVD/Blu-Ray discs
  • Flash drives
  • SD cards

Two Formats: Diversify Storage Media

Using different types of storage for backup improves reliability: It not only diversifies the factors that could cause the backup to fail, but also acts as an extra layer of protection. For example, if both backups are on external hard drives and exposed to a large magnet, both would be destroyed. However, a second copy stored on optical media or a flash drive would survive.

The two backup locations could include a backup external hard drive and cloud storage, or a DVD archive and an onsite NAS server. According to PC & Tech Authority, NAS servers are a great backup option for offices with several networked computers. We’ve discussed storage format longevity in previous blog posts if you need help deciding which one is right for you.

Keep at Least One Copy Offsite for “Catastrophe Recovery”

Catastrophe recovery is another way to describe a worst-case disaster recovery scenario: for instance, the hard drive didn’t fail, but a flood leveled your office, or someone stole both the computer and the backup in a burglary. In order to prevent an outright catastrophe, it’s not safe to keep every copy of your important data under the same roof.

This means, of course, that one of your backup copies should be stored in a secondary locationthe farther the better. The offsite backup could be, for example, a cloud backup, or an external hard drive stored in a bank deposit box. When working with a non-cloud, off-site solution, it helps to swap out two storage devices on a weekly basis.

If your company is looking to streamline its disaster recovery practices with IT Managed Services, contact the experts at MPA Networks today.

Is It Time to Switch to Flash Storage?

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

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More and more businesses are switching their storage solutions from hard disk drives (HDDs) to solid state drives (SSDs) for one simple reason: the appeal of faster loading times and increased productivity. However, HDDs can still be the better choice in cases where maximum capacity is more important than performance. Your local managed service provider can help your company determine whether making the switch is worth your while.

Changes in the Market

All the performance boosts in the world won’t matter if the device is prohibitively expensive.

However, SSD prices are quickly falling while HDD prices remain stagnant, making flash storage an increasingly attractive option.

In 2012, SSD storage cost about ten times as much as HDD storage for the same capacity. According to a PC World, the price difference has decreased to four times the cost in 2016, with projections narrowing the gap to three times by 2017. Price-parity could occur between 2017 and 2019.

SSD: Performance, Durability, and Physical Space

Most of the excitement around SSD storage comes from its ability to access data at speeds of up to 100 times faster than HDDs. In addition to faster access, SSDs do not need to move a read/write head around while reading and writing data, so seek times become negligible. This is helpful when working with a massive amount of smaller files, as well as with larger, fragmented files. SSDs are a more durable solution, ideal for devices that move around because they have no moving parts.

HDD: Affordable Capacity and Rewriting

HDDs currently offer the most possible storage space for the lowest possible cost. While HDDs have longer load times than SSDs, comparative performance losses can be minimal, especially in workflows where the storage device is rarely accessed. Flash SSDs aren’t built to handle constant re-writes over the same space thousands of times like HDDs. So HDDs will last longer if your business works with large amounts of data that is constantly overwritten.

Recommendations

Ultimately, your IT consulting firm will make different recommendations depending on the types of devices in use and how those devices are used. When it comes to laptops, the extra investment in an SSD is almost always worth it, especially if the employees are unlikely to use the extra storage space afforded by an HDD of similar cost. Thirty percent of shipped laptops come equipped with an SSD.

With desktop computers, it comes down to the need for a performance boost. If employees aren’t working with a lot of locally stored data on their desktop systems, SSDs afford an impressive performance boost, and the lost storage capacity will go unnoticed. However, HDDs may still win out when it comes to server-based storage. While servers running high-demand applications will see substantial performance boosts when switching to SSDs, the cost difference can still be a hurdle. HDDs still dominate in cases where performance isn’t an issue, as with cold storage.

MSPs are a great asset for determining your company’s optimal data storage solutions. HDDs still have a place in the business environment—but given the current trends, they could be obsolete within a decade.

Is Tape Storage (Completely) Dead?

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

IT SF Bay Area discussion on using tape for backup & archiving of data.

If you’re over 40, you probably remember the original Sony Walkman—the freedom of listening to a single cassette tape in portable stereo. Even if you still have a few favorite cassette tapes packed away somewhere, where could you listen to them today? Tape is just so… ancient. Ask your kids.

Magnetic tape used for computer data storage dates back even further, introduced by IBM in 1953. Those first reel-to-reel contraptions would likewise give way to the convenience of portable cassettes, which would largely be replaced by hard disks, and most recently storage via the Cloud. But tape storage hasn’t quite gone the way of the dinosaurs just yet. In some cases, it might still be a favorably economical storage option, particularly for small businesses.

When we talk about “data storage,” we need to divide it into two distinct areas: backup and archiving.

Backup

Backing up essential day-to-day files and applications, as we’ve talked about, is necessary for disaster recovery (DR)—getting your company back up and running as soon as possible following a major catastrophe (from acts of nature to hostile computer viruses to simple human error). We strongly advocate that each of our customers develops a comprehensive, hybrid Cloud and on-premises Disaster Recovery solution.

Archiving

Archiving involves the secured storage of “cold” data, rarely used files which still need long-term retention (typically for regulatory requirements). For many small companies, as much as 85 percent of stored data is never accessed again after 90 days. It either takes up valuable disk space on an onsite server or gets uploaded into a Cloud data center—where the provider charges monthly for every last gigabyte.

As antiquated as tape storage may first appear, it still holds a few advantages over other media:

  • Tape is cheaper. Purchasing new cassettes (as low as $30 each) for a single DDS/DAT tape drive is less expensive than multiple hard drives/servers or additional Cloud data storage.

  • Tape lasts. A stored index of tapes lasts up to 30 years undisturbed, requiring none of the constant power and cooling requirements of an active computer.  Of course, you need to keep the tape drive equipment and software around.

  • Tape is secure. Archived data remains off the IT network until it’s needed—so it’s virtually hack-proof.

The “tape vs. disk vs. Cloud” debate still rages in IT circles. It doesn’t need to be an either/or proposition; archived files on tape can be a cost-effective supplement to storage on your server or in a Cloud data center. How well might a hybrid on-premises/Cloud/disk/tape solution fit into your company’s data storage needs? Ask us.