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Back-up and disaster recovery; it is something especially SMBs struggle with. Large initial investments in both additional hardware and a DR site and also additional management costs are often unwelcome. Five backup challenges that are easy to tackle.

1. Entangled in tape 

Is tape as a backup medium dead? 94 percent of small businesses indicated that they still used tape in 2013. At medium-sized companie- and-enterprises this percentage was 56. In fact, a cloud giant like Google also uses tape for backup purposes. Why? Because tape provides undeniable benefits as a storage medium. A backup tape on a shelf does not cost any money; a spinning disk, however, requires continuous power. Especially for long-term backup, tape is more cost effective. But there are also disadvantages. For daily backup a tape drive is far too labor intensive. Backup, archive, restore and transport to a DR location take considerably more time. Tapes may also be damaged, making them unusable or qualitydeteriorates as a result. As a DR site is often not available in small and medium-sized enterprises, the system administrator or manager takes the backup tapes home. People often forget to take the tapes back to their office, or the wrong tape is returned. As a result, the system administrator can’t see the data for the tapes. Tape is not dead, but use this solution for the right purposes: long-term data retention. For the short term disk is a much more cost-effective solution; more reliable and supportive to organizational processes and continuity. And, make your backup redundant, meaning on disk on premise and in the cloud.

2. Complex administration

Many companies acquired their backup products in different moments in time. Often one for their physical and one for their virtual servers. Besides, these backup products are often not integrated. This requires unnecessary administration regarding updates and patches, licenses and hardware. Whereas, in medium-sized businesses IT management already consumes a lot of time.

3. Budget limitations

Many companies are aware of the importance of their critical business data and applications. The lack of sufficient budget is often the reason that a good DR site strategy is not in place. Take a car, for instance. If you want to make sure to arrive on time every work day, then you should buy a second car; in case the first one breaks down. Investing in a complete second, backup and disaster recovery infrastructure, however, is way too expensive for most businesses. Especially, because this infrastructure is idle throughout the day and only used in case of emergency. A second backup and disaster recovery in the cloud are the Green Wheels (ZipCar in the UK) of IT. No investment in hardware, no worries about maintenance and always available if the worst comes to the worst.

4. ‘Unintelligent’ backup process

The data volume is growing and so it takes more time to backup production data. Especially, when a company works with obsolete tape technology, a backup of the previous day is still made during office time. For businesses that are geographically spread, it is even more difficult, as employees in another time zone begin to work when the backup is still made. Also, home workers are increasingly looking at files outside office hours.

Can you make backup smarter? Yes, by identifying what files are out of date and can thus be archived. In that case you only backup actual data. And what about data that has not been updated in a while? In addition, in many organizations backup data is saved multiple times, whereas the deduplication of backup data shrinks the volume significantly.

Smart backup software creates a snapshot of the company's data; we call it a data selfie. Based on this snapshot, the system makes the backup. This means less burden on production server and network. Moreover, it is possible to make a backup of important data or applications several times a day.

5. Backups causing network delay

A snapshot is fast, so the backup process does not burden the system and productivity is not hindered. Nevertheless, eighty percent of the companies do not take a backup selfie, because the backup software does not support this, or because there is no integration with the storage and/or virtualization layer. There are backup and data recovery products that guarantee a smooth data transfer and recoup the investment in a short time. 

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