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Thursday, October 24, 2013

How Long Should Our Server Restoration Take?

For any company that relies on the web, servers remain an absolutely vital business resource.  It’s a simple unfortunate fact, though, that they have been known to fail.  On top of this, many users aren’t aware of just how long a full restoration can take.  That’s why we’ve put together this guide on the different aspects that affect a server recovery.

How much data is being recovered?

At the most basic level, the restoration of data will depend largely on how much of it there actually is.  If, for instance, you're restoring a server which contains every single database used by a multinational insurance company, the process will take far longer than if you're restoring one Wordpress blog.  (Obviously larger companies usually have backup servers in place, but you get the idea!). 

Do you have a plan ready to go?

If you're working with a specialist recovery firm, then it’s likely that you’ll have taken the time to set out a plan for recovery in the event of any issues that arise.  If you haven't, then do so:  having a specific process to follow will mean that you can take action immediately.

What kind of backup do you have?

One of the biggest differences between servers that take a few hours to restore and those which can take several days is the method that has been used to store the data.  There are two main kinds of restoration: traditional backup software and imaging software, both of which have their own positives and negatives.

Backup software copies the files needed onto either a physical tape or disc, in much the same way that you would save a word file to a hard drive.  This means that the data can be stored multiple times offsite, which reduces the risk of permanent damage in the event of physical hazards such as fire or flood, and pretty much rules out the idea of permanently losing anything.  It’s also an extremely cost-effective method of backup.  However, it does mean that before the actual server data can be restored, the whole of the operating system and all of the user’s software would have to be re-installed.  This process can take a few days if the size of the server is substantial.

Imaging software, on the other hand, offers a far speedier solution.  Essentially, it takes incremental snapshots of your whole system – data and all – and is able to replicate that information extremely quickly without having to worry about re-installing anything.  This rapidly reduces downtime.

Needless to say, imaging software’s faster, cutting edge processes are more expensive that the traditional methods.  If you have the budget, however, then it can be worth splashing the cash to shave up to a couple of days off the restoration process.

Which of the two backup methods you choose to invest in is largely a matter of priority.  Some businesses will be more or less unable to survive if their website is down for more than a day or two (imagine how much money Amazon would lose, for instance!).  If, though, you can do without your computers for a few hours, then the traditional backup solutions are probably a more sensible investment.  After all, the opportunity is always there to upgrade the system once you have the money to do so, and you’ll still have the physical backup to work with in the mean-time.

In conclusion

As with any technical matters, the most sensible decision to make if you’re uncertain about anything is to consult an expert.  An experienced company will be able to guide you through the process of ensuring that all of your data is backed-up properly.

Featured images:
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: www.sxc.hu
Damian Coates is the ICT Business Support Director at Utilize, an IT support company based in the South East of England. He specialises in disaster recovery and business continuity solutions and has helped a wide range of businesses formulate strong back-up plans during his time at the firm.

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