Protect Your Web Site Data: A
Quick Survey of Backup Solutions
by Chris Kivlehan
Over the past decade, many
businesses—long established and newly formed alike—have made the
World Wide Web a key revenue-generating channel. Transactions worth billions of
dollars occur online each year. For many people, using the Internet to make a
purchase or to find information that will lead to a purchase is now second
As a result, every business that
is using the Web as a revenue-generating channel has enormous amounts of
valuable data stored on computers; and, as we all well know, computers tend to
die from time to time. The loss of a customer-order database can be devastating
to a business, as it leads to unfulfilled orders, dissatisfied customers, and
interrupted contacts with clients.
Although it is self-evident that
businesses need to guard against losing orders and customer information, too
many businesses shopping for Web hosting make backup solutions a low priority.
Back in an Hour
Like the other elements of your
Web hosting plan, your backup solution should fit what your company is doing on
the Web. Businesses running small brochure Web sites need relatively modest
backups. Businesses collecting data from customers and prospects through the
Web need highly reliable backup solutions. The acid test for a backup plan is
whether it provides the means to restore your site to a fully operational
condition within one hour after a server crash.
A modest backup suitable for a
brochure-style site can consist simply of keeping a spare copy of all files on
a separate computer. If the site is such that visitors do not submit
information to any databases or add any content, copying should take place when
data on the site change.
Sites that offer dynamic
interaction to visitors and that involve constantly writing new information to
databases need to be backed up much more frequently. Just how frequently
depends on how important the data are to the company, and how unacceptable some
data loss is in a disaster. For a relatively low-traffic site where the data
collected aren’t critical, weekly backups may suffice. For sites that collect
large numbers of orders and large amounts of visitor information every day,
backups must be once a day or more often. The very largest e-commerce sites
have been known to back up on an hourly basis; some even have their data
constantly written to backup computers in a process known as replication.
Tips on the Right
Technologies used for backup
solutions vary with operating system platforms and data types. In a Windows
environment, Symantec’s Veritas (<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>www.veritas.com) software’s Backup Exec
is a premier solution for those who cannot afford any data loss; Veritas
produces special agents to work with many leading software applications to
ensure perfect backups of data. In a Unix environment, open-source backup
software such as Bacula (www.bacula.org) provides a high-quality, low-cost
In addition to choosing the
software products that run backups, businesses must choose the type of media
they want their backups stored on. Options include secondary hard drives in the
same computer that is running the site, tape drives, separate network storage
devices, and CDs or DVDs. Backups to a second hard drive are the easiest on the
budget and fastest in terms of restore time, but they are vulnerable to
corruption by hackers. CDs and DVDs are great for portable backups, but their
usefulness is limited by their relatively small file sizes (roughly 700MB and
4.8GB, respectively). Network storage devices can back up enormous amounts of
data, but they are expensive. Tape drives may offer the best balance of cost,
storage capacity, portability, security, and quality.
Choosing the right backup plan for
your business should be done in consultation with an experienced professional
who can help you design a solution that will allow you to restore your site to
full functionality as quickly as needed. Computers being what they are, after a
certain amount of time it is a given that your backup solution will be tested.
It is just a matter of when. It is best to be prepared for this day.
Think of backup as better than a
life insurance policy for your Web operation. Quality backups resurrect instead
of just giving the departed’s loved ones some monetary assistance.
Chris Kivlehan is the
marketing manager for INetU Managed Hosting, an award-winning Web hosting
provider that specializes in managed dedicated hosting for businesses
nationwide. For more information, visit www.inetu.net or contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org