Computer Backup Software:where Are We Going With It

As the year began, there appears to be a growing share of computer users who do not protect their system using backup software. By the same token, many home users are still unprotected from virus damage because they do not run an anti-virus program on their PC on their regular basis. The best protection against virus damage, however, is prevention: buy good data backup software and run it often!

Computer backup has been practiced by most professional computer users since the 1990s. The challenge with workstation backups is that data may need to be backed up while the user is working; hence, the backup tool needs to impact the system minimally, yet provide satisfying performance. In addition, another hurdle for backup software is that workstations are subject to frequent software installations and system configuration alterations.

Hard drive burglary affects computers but also media. Especially backup media is subject theft because its completeness of information-a company’s backup tape in possession of a thief can be a real disaster because the entire company’s intellectual property is within that one medium. The thieves can analyze the tape at their leisure, hidden from the public, and leak sensitive material to competitors. The industry’s answer to this problem is naturally backup encryption and the recommendation to physically secure backup media, for example in safes.

By and large, file backup and data backup are key ingredients of a server backup software package. Better than disk imaging on servers is the ability to handle files in configurable ways. A recent trend has been to avoid disk imaging, or to limit it to system partitions, and to focus on more efficient ways to process files, since data files are the vast majority of data volumes stored on servers.

In a manufacturing setting, network backup is a frequent practice. Backup targets of several computers are consolidated on a central machine, which is then backed up separately usually after business hours. IT administrators should consider using network backup software that allows bandwidth limitation to prevent the network from slowing down during work hours. Alternatively, backup should be scheduled to run at night.

Since the advent of virtual machines, virtual machine backup has gained more magnitude. In VMware, a backup of a virtual machine while running usually requires the VMDK file to be backed up. To back up VMDK files, however, one needs to either shut down the virtual machine, or the backup program needs to connect to VMware Server to get access to the live virtual disk file. In the latter case a specialized tool may be necessary.

For a successful backup of Hyper-V Server 2008 R2, the backup tool needs to aware and custom-made to fit into the limited operating system landscape created by Microsoft. Because Core Installations are very limited in their operating system features, regular tools will not work and specialized Hyper-V backup software needs to be purchased.

Serious gurus of Microsoft Virtual PC, such as software testers and developers, also require a reasonable method to backup Virtual PC machines. Similarly, those who fell in love with VirtualBox are also in need for automatic VirtualBox backup software. As with all virtual machine backups, the ideal solution should do the backup automatically and in the background.

A common strategy to save storage space is to generate an incremental backup. Incremental backups always refer to the state of the last backup cycle and extract the difference between the two cycles. The disadvantage of incremental backup is that each incremental step needs to be restored as well during the recovery process; hence, incremental recoveries take longer than that of differential backups.

The latest improvement in the industry is delta compression, also known as file version differencing, which essentially reduces backup storage requirements to a bare minimum. Delta compression is applied in many areas but is has been predominantly popular on servers with high activity. BOLA TANGKAS