Disk-Based Data Protection

By | August 28, 2006

The ongoing and explosive growth of data volumes inside today´s enterprises has placed unprecedented strains on IT organizations. Their challenge, needless to say, is to provide necessary data protection in the face of ever-shrinking backup windows. Too often, however, IT organizations have neither the people nor the hardware to manage all that data.

As a result, enterprises are increasingly turning to disk-based backup as part of their overall disaster recovery plan. While this technology has been available for some time, only recently has it become genuinely practical. This article looks at some of the key benefits of disk-based backup, and how it can meet the data management challenges of today´s IT organizations.

How disk-based backup has evolved

Symantec defines disk-based backup as using “a hard drive, rather than another type of storage medium. A disk-based backup solution typically writes the same data to a file on a disk volume as it would write to a tape drive. Therefore, when a backup-to-disk operation is finished, a single file the size of the backup will exist on disk that contains all the backed-up files.”

As mentioned, this technology has existed for some years, but a number of hurdles – including cost and file and disk management issues – kept it from being widely deployed. But today´s disk-based backup solutions are proving to be more affordable and able to tackle file and disk management. File management has been added so administrators can set size limits and maximum numbers of files per backup job. Disk management has been addressed by letting the backup applications reserve disk space to prevent disk-full errors and even provide early warning when specific capacity thresholds are reached. In addition, the most effective disk backup solutions now support all rewritable and removable media, such as DVD-RW, CD-RW, Zip, and Jazz.

The result is that disk-based backup solutions can now bring improved backup and recovery speeds and new efficiencies to IT departments. The use of disk drives enables faster, more flexible backups and restores. Although tape has made significant improvements in throughput and capacity over the past few years, it is still very inflexible compared to disks.

Which is not to say that tape has no future in data protection. Thanks to a combination of technical advances and recent regulatory initiatives, tape as a medium for backup and archival storage continues to attract attention. For example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires organizations to have necessary controls in place to ensure the integrity of their information. Plus, many enterprises have invested significant time and money in their tape solutions, and they are unlikely to throw those investments away overnight. The bottom line is that tape remains the best medium for long-term and offsite storage. Its portability and ruggedness make tape the most efficient way to protect a business from disaster or for long-term storage.

That said, there is no denying that ongoing advances in disk-based backup technology have made it a viable, cost-effective alternative to traditional backup media. Disk-based backup lets IT organizations get more out of their current backup windows.

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