Guide to Selecting Backup & Recovery Software

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Enterprise backup and recovery software is a safety net that keeps businesses running when application errors, cyber-attacks, negligent workers, and countless other IT mishaps strike. Technical approaches between vendors vary somewhat, as do each organization’s data protection requirements and objectives. But essentially, all enterprise backup solutions keep a duplicate copy of information on a storage device such as a solid state drive or a hard drive or on a cloud server. These copies are separate from a primary server, PC, or storage system for safekeeping, so physical destruction in one location doesn’t prevent data recovery.  

Backup and data recovery software solutions have also grown more sophisticated over time, reflecting the advances that have shaped the modern operating system, application, and data center markets. 

To more comprehensively protect businesses from data loss, many of today’s backup products do more than just transfer files and application data from one storage device to another. They can include resource-optimizing data management capabilities and other features that once used to belong to distinct classes of data protection tools.

A key concept here is backup software and disaster recovery: Turning their attention to the entire data lifecycle, many backup vendors have imbued their product lines with features historically found in archiving and disaster recovery software. Now, it’s common for the terms to be used interchangeably to describe platforms that not only fulfill organizations’ short-term and long-term backup data retention requirements, but also enable businesses to retrieve that data when the need arises.

Enterprise backup and recovery software plays a critical role in storage security and data loss prevention. It can span several storage media, including hard disk, solid state drive, and cloud storage. 

Selecting backup and recovery software

What should you look for in enterprise backup and recovery software? That all depends on your specific IT environment and the kinds of data that your business needs to protect.

Cover all your options

You’ll likely be evaluating and perhaps investing in a couple of products to cover all your bases. Specialized solutions may provide the data protection that’s better suited for virtual machines than basic PC and laptop file recovery, for example. However, all-inclusive backup products exist, often in the form of enterprise data protection suites. If your business needs to recover data from a variety of environments, you may want to invest in one of the bigger solutions that includes more than just backup.

Consider virtual vs. bare metal

Some products excel in heavily-virtualized environments and others in applications that run on bare-metal or physical servers. Does your business run Oracle, SAP or Microsoft SQL databases? Are your developers using Docker containers to power their applications? 

Remember the cloud

Increasingly, the cloud hangs over many decisions made by CIOs and IT managers, and finding the right backup and data recovery software is no exception. Lured by comparatively inexpensive cloud storage costs and rapidly-maturing service delivery models, enterprises are turning to the cloud for their data protection needs. If the cloud factors into the calculus used to determine your IT investments, a cloud-enabled backup software solution may be in your future.

Consider both volume and scalability 

Other considerations include the sheer volumes of data that a backup solution must effectively manage and whether it can scale as your data backup requirements grow and change. Does the software deliver the acceptable performance or bog down the network during backup operations? Can it recover files within the acceptable time frame without slowing other segments of your storage infrastructure? 

Choose software that fits your business needs long-term

Once a new solution has been implemented, storage administrators will want it to last a long time. The longevity of recovery software affects teams’ finances — they won’t want to spend money on multiple backup solutions in a short period of time — so it’s critical to select a product that suits your current storage infrastructure. Also, consider the level of employee expertise in storage administration. Having a backup software that fits your needs is critical. While some storage vendors offer general solutions, others take a targeted approach that may be more efficient and cost-effective for your company.

Also consider:

  • Your enterprise’s RPO (recovery point objective, the maximum amount of permissible time for data loss to occur) and your RTO (recovery time objective, the amount of time it takes to recover files and other data and return to effective service).
  • Your enterprise’s encryption strategy and the security features you prioritize. 
  • Your enterprise’s budget. A given vendor must not only have a product at your price point but also be affordable for the foreseeable future to be suitable for a long-term backup strategy.

These leaders in data backup are defining the storage marketplace. Read Best Data Backup Solutions if you’re considering purchasing backup software for your business.

Remember data backup compliance and SLAs

It’s not enough to find data recovery software that’s a good fit for your particular environment. Businesses must also weigh their regulatory obligations and compliance standards that govern how they manage and protect their backup data.

Is credit card information included in your backups? The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (DSS) has some guidelines worth reviewing. HIPAA also has rules on how health data is to be managed, secure and retained. Make sure the backup solutions you’re considering can adapt to the regulatory and corporate governance schemes that affect your business.

Additionally, can a product support the backup and recovery service-level agreements (SLAs) set by an IT department and an organization’s various stakeholders? Failing to meet realistic agreed-upon times to recover files can have consequences that ripple throughout a business, particularly if the data in question involves a critical application or customer database. 

To ensure that your data protection setup can meet SLAs, seek out monitoring and analytics capabilities that accurately report the status and health of your backup and recovery systems so that no one is caught off guard when called to present data statistics.

Is your business considering disaster recovery software? Read Best Disaster Recovery Solutions at eSecurity Planet next. 

This article was updated August 2022 by Jenna Phipps.

Pedro Hernandez
Pedro Hernandez
Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to Datamation, eWEEK, and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro.

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