Backing up is the process of copying and archiving computer data so it can be used to restore the original document. Companies and organizations backup important information to prevent the loss of that information in the event of buggy software, data corruption, hardware failure, malicious hacking, or user error. Backups serve two purposes: recover data after loss and recover data from an earlier time. Any entity that uses IT and data in their operation should have a recovery disaster plan that includes data backups. Unfortunately, most companies are at high risk for data loss disaster, which means implementing an effective backup and recovery plan is a necessity.
Data Backup Scenario #1
Let’s start with a semi-real-life example of why data backups are important and beneficial for a company. In our scenario Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. (shout out to The Office fans) is a small company operating out of Knoxville, TN. After employee Toby accidentally downloads a corrupted file onto the company server, the entire server crashes. With the crash, all company files and data saved to that server seem to be lost. Fortunately, Dunder Mifflin thought ahead and implemented a data backup and recovery system. Thanks to this backup system, all company data was salvaged and Toby could rest easy knowing he didn’t cause the company to lose any important company information.
Types of Data Backups
Understanding an IT backup is only half the battle – you also have to be aware of the different types of backups. There are three types: full backups, incremental backups, and differential backups.
- A full backup is exactly what it sounds like: a complete copy of your full data set. While this is the best tactic for safeguarding against any loss of data, it’s also very time consuming and can require a large amount of storage.
- Incremental backups were designed to take some of the time out of backing up your data by only backing up data that has changed since the most recent backup. Incrementally backing up your data can be time consuming to recover, however, as you have to restore each individual backup until you find the data you need.
- Differential backups are very similar to incremental backups in that they also only backup data that has changed; however, differential backups save all changed data since the last full backup. Differential backups also have a shorter restore time than incremental backups.
Data Backup Scenario #2
To help you understand the different types of data backups, let’s continue with our employee backup examples at the fictitious Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. In this scenario, Pam has just created a brand new data set that she needs to save. Pam will create a full backup of her data set to ensure everything is completely saved, should anything happen. The next day, Pam adds to that data set and creates an incremental backup to only save the data she has added. Finally, a month and many more incremental backups later, Pam wants to create an easy-to-recover backup of all her data since she began the data set, so she creates a differential backup. With her differential backup, she can see her original data set versus her dataset with all new data.
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