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Beware of the BDR: Backup and Disaster Recovery are NOT the Same

Online BackupCan we stop paying for online backup now that we have disaster recovery?

Some of you may chuckle, but it’s a common question nowadays. Worse yet, there are unscrupulous service providers that prey on unknowing customers with a “packaged” Backup & Disaster Recovery (BDR) offering. Let’s expose the BDR for the scam it is and revisit some important reminders about keeping business running.

Modern disaster recovery looks nothing like the past. However, as technology continually becomes cheaper and easier to use, people often forget some basic truths. One of these idioms is the difference between backup and disaster recovery.

The secret is in the restore. Having a backup means you can restore a file or series of files that have been deleted or damaged. You have a typical grandfather, father, and son retention of 30 daily, 12 monthly, and 3 annual backups. This type of retention allows you to go back to last month to fix an accounting error or last year to get the project files of a returning customer. Savvy business people know that a snapshot from yesterday doesn’t provide any support for normal restoration needs.

Where is as important as what. Disasters range from minor hardware failure of a server to complete loss of a facility due to flood, fire, or major storm. Minor disasters generally involve a hybrid approach of temporarily changing operations to manual processes or having spare equipment, along with restoring any needed files from backup. In a major disaster, site recovery may be used to bring a complete server and application environment online based upon hourly replica copies. Staff may then utilize systems from anywhere that has an Internet connection and management can focus on facilities and other customer facing activities.

Backup used to take hours or days to find a tape and then restore a file. Only a few years ago, disaster recovery meant double the cost of current production systems and still took days or weeks to fully fail over for business continuity. Now files may often be restored in minutes and disaster recovery performed in hours. However, the scenarios above outline that while timeframes for both have decreased dramatically, you wouldn’t want to wait for disaster recovery to simply restore a file.

Beware of the BDR. A few years back, we described some virtualization blunders that utilized a BDR. Unfortunately, many customers are still being duped by this approach and often get burned with data loss in a true disaster. The following is a short list to identify warning signs and avoid this racket:

  1. A server is put in your environment to store a local copy of backup and forward to non-regulation foreign-owned data centers in either Baltimore or Phoenix.
  2. Customers are responsible for a $12,000 server replacement cost with no access to restore their own files, while waiving any rights to legal recourse.
  3. The server contains network monitoring software to illicitly track communications and scan systems for pitching other services.
  4. The BDR simply does a file copy of Exchange or SQL databases and is unable to perform a supported transactional restore in the event of a real disaster.
  5. Absurdly touted as high security, backup storage cost is typically 20% higher than market average and any support is remote assistance from India charged at an additional $175 per hour.

Definitely know that backup and disaster recovery are two different animals with unique goals and requirements. If you’re a BDR customer, read the fine print. Never allow any person or entity in technology to withhold information, prevent access to your data, or hinder your business operations.

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