This post was written by Jeremy Brovage who is a Backup, Recovery and Archiving Architect in SIS’ Infrastructure Brand Solutions practice.

Data protection is often a source of weariness for IT managers today. Day-to-day, there’s very little benefit to backups. It’s like taking out the trash, or paying your insurance premiums. You have to do it so you don’t regret it later. The less you have to do with backups, the more time you can devote to more visibly beneficial projects… like getting that virtual desktop project finished. As a side-effect of this burden, there’s sometimes a money-saver hidden in your IT budget. That money saver is: Backup efficiency.

Take some time each week to review with different application administrators what data is REALLY needed in a disaster, as well as day-to-day. Questions like “Do we need the OS backed up for this DB server?” should be asked. This can incrementally save a lot of backup storage space and shorten backup windows significantly. Most backup software takes time indexing and tracking backup data at the FILE level. Avoiding a lot of small, unimportant files on a host’s backup job can greatly improve the backup time. Furthermore, the disaster recovery strategy for applications often require re-loading hosts with an OS and Application anyways. Why backup data that will not be restored? To complete this strategy, documenting each host’s backup and recovery strategy is important.

Another common logic surrounds the preserving of backup data as archive data. Depending on your backup software, this may add to licensing costs or at the least tie long-term archival to a specific backup software product (as well as version). Maintaining old revisions of backup applications is expensive and challenging. A better tactic is to implement a purpose-built archiving system. Putting data into that system would not be a “default” action. It becomes a business process that is consciously made when necessary, and is treated as operational work. Why save a whole file-server’s data once a month for years when the accounting data is all that is necessary? This could also cause legal challenges, as saving it may mandate recovering it during litigation.

These small things can help keep the backup system running efficiently and often extend the life of the existing hardware and software solution. If you are lucky enough to have dedicated backup administrators or backup operations staff, these projects can be carried out regularly as part of operational maintenance. If not, these ideas can be turned into projects over the year that have a smaller budget cost than buying new infrastructure every time you outgrow your current backup solution.

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