What is File & Folder Backup?
It’s exactly as it sounds, it only backs up the files and folders you’ve created. It won’t backup any of the applications that you created the files with, nor will it backup any of the configurations you’ve made to the operating system.
This article is about backing up servers, however, I’m going to use the example of restoring a computer to get my point across. If my computer died tomorrow, first I’d have to go buy another computer. Then I would have to start installing all the applications I use, for me, I’d have to install Quickbooks, the Microsoft Office Suite, the Adobe suite, reset-up my VPN connection, and so on and so forth. This can quickly turn into an all-day affair and that is JUST for my computer.
Servers are so, so much more complicated. Most of the time, you can’t walk into a store and just buy a server off the rack like you can with some computers, so a server will need to be configured, ordered & shipped. Unlike your computer, servers don’t come with the operating system installed, so you first have to install the operating system & configure it, then you have to install all the applications & configure them. Next, you’ll have to setup all your employees & their security permissions and then you’ll finally be able to start restoring all the files & folders you saved. This entire process from start to finish will take about a week. Yes, that means you will be without a server for that entire time & anyone that has lived through it will tell you it feels like restoring the warehouse below back to normal.
What is Image-based Backup?
Unlike file & folder backup, an image-based backup solution takes a snapshot of your entire system, including the operating system, applications, configurations, users, permissions, folders & files. This eliminates the whole server rebuild process, thus saving you from days of downtime. Most image-based backup solutions take a snapshot of your system every hour, so you have the potential to only lose 1 hour of work.
Image-based backup even protects you against ransomware as well. All your IT company has to do is identify which snapshot is clean before the ransomware started to spread on the network and revert you back to that point in time. No need to pay a ransom. A file and folder backup will not save you from ransomware, all it will do is simply backup the encrypted files.
With that being said, there is still the issue of having a spare server when an issue arises due to a hardware problem. In that scenario, if you don’t have a business continuity plan in place, you’ll still need to wait for spare parts or a new server to be procured and shipped. That means you still will have 2-3 days of downtime.
What is Image-based Backup & Business Continuity?
Unless you like paying all your staff to not work and apologizing to your clients because your systems are down, a image-based backup & business continuity solution is what you need. A true image-based backup and business continuity solution will take snapshots of all your systems hourly AND will be able to act as your standby server if your main one goes poof for whatever reason.
If you have a hardware issue, your IT company will be able to load up the last good snapshot on the backup appliance (typically within an hour or two) so that all your employees can continue working while your IT company is figuring out what went wrong. Whether the issue was a bad part or the need to get a whole new server, your IT company can calmly order what is needed & then schedule the downtime to transfer the image from the backup appliance back onto your main server.
Further, most of these solutions compress your files at night and send them offsite to the cloud. That way, even if you lost all the servers & backup appliance at your office, all your data would still be in the cloud. Your IT company could even boot you up off the cloud and create a VPN connection so your staff could still work as long as they had a computer to work on. Talk about smooth.
Business Backup Costs
Now, what you’ve been waiting for. The $$$. I’m going to make this scenario-based rather than you trying to do the complicated math because each service prices and packages things differently. Keep in mind that these are only estimates and a snapshot in time.
|File & Folder Backup (ie Carbonite)||Image-Based Backup (ie Veeam)||Image-Based Backup & Business Continuity|
|Protects against ransomware||X||√||√|
|Protects against hardware failure||X||X||√|
|Cost (2 servers & 1TB data)||$125||$139||$424|
|Cost (9 servers & 3TB data)||$292||$375||$1349|
|Downtime Length||1 Week +||2-3 Days||1-2 Hours|