What do I do if my server breaks or is stolen and is completely offline for 2 weeks?
As technology continues to evolve, data security is a top concern for businesses in 2023. With cyber threats becoming more sophisticated and natural disasters still posing a risk, relying solely on traditional backups might not always be sufficient to ensure your business continuity.
But how can a business make their backup strategy even stronger?
Backup and Disaster Recovery – The standard for 20 years
Backups have long been vital for safeguarding business data, they involve creating copies of files, applications, and databases at regular intervals and storing them in a separate location from the original data. Here at Geeks, we’ve invested in technology which reliably automates and monitors all our backups. As standard, our customers benefit from daily local and off-site backups which are stored in our offsite tier-three datacentre in Gloucester, UK. This approach acts as a safety net in case of accidental data loss, hardware failure or cyber-attacks.
However, we know that backups have some limitations, typically backups are done at scheduled intervals, leaving a gap between each backup, this means that data created or edited between backup window are at risk, this gap could result in data loss if a disaster were to occur before the next backup.
In addition to this, the process of restoring data from backups can be time-consuming, particularly if over the internet from our off-site server to our customers’ site. And, depending on the size and complexity of the system, this can lead to extended downtime.
And a very real scenario would be the theft, flood, fire or total breakdown of a server, requiring a total machine replacement. In this scenario, realistically it will take a few days for the insurance companies to provide the funds and the MSP to supply the new server required for on-premise restore.
You’ve heard of disaster recovery – but what is business continuity & disaster recovery (BCDR)?
In today’s fast-paced environment, downtime can be incredibly disruptive. Business continuity involves creating a comprehensive plan that outlines the processes, policies, and procedures to keep operations running during and after disruptive events. It’s designed to minimise disruption, downtime, and data loss, ensuring that essential services remain available to clients.
Disaster recovery, on the other hand, focuses on the technical aspect of getting your systems back up and running after a disruptive event. This includes data recovery system restoration, and infrastructure repair.
Together, they form a comprehensive plan of action for your business in the event of any disruptive event.
The role of replication
While backups are still a vital part of disaster recovery, replication offers another layer of data protection that goes beyond traditional backups.
Replication is a cutting-edge data protection technique that involves creating real-time ready-to-go duplicates of data, applications, and systems. The duplicated data is stored in a separate location. This continuous synchronisation ensures that even the most recent changes are replicated, hugely reducing the risk of data loss and minimising downtime. In short, it deals with the “business continuity” aspect of a BCDR strategy.
Advantages of replication
One of the key advantages of replication is its ability to provide a significantly lower recovery time objective (RTO). RTO refers to the maximum acceptable downtime after a disruption.
Whilst restoring company data from a traditional backup may a while, replication means that there is an exact duplicate of your setup ready to go. So, with replication in place, businesses can quickly switch to the duplicated system in the event of a disaster because the replicated data is stored as exact copies of the original data. This ensures minimal downtime. For example, if a flood or hardware failure occurs, a business can be up and running on the duplicated system, with just a few clicks.
Cyber threats are more sophisticated than ever, so businesses need a comprehensive approach to data security. Replication not only safeguards data against hardware failures and natural disasters, but also provides a robust defence against certain cyber-attacks.
For example, ransomware attacks can lock down critical systems, meaning traditional backups may not have created copies of that data since the last backup. Whilst, with replication, businesses can switch to unaffected duplicates, mitigating the impact.
Replication allows for data to be duplicated and stored in geographically separate locations, this ensures that even your datacentre experiences a complete outage due to natural disasters, power failures or other events, your system can switch to the replicated data in another location. This seamless transition helps minimise the impact of disruptions.
Why should I have traditional backups and replication?
Backups and replication are two different solutions that form part of your BCDR.
Backups take a ‘point in time’ copy of all data, this copy is then saved to an offline media, for example a backup hard drive which is like a big archive file, filed away with a time stamp. These backups are available to restore from that point in time whenever you would like, however it can take some time to copy the archive file and open, extract and access the data.
Replication is completely different. Replication is a second server in a different location, which is ready to go at any time. This second server is completely in-sync (typically hourly) with your live server.
So why should you have both? Simply put, replication keeps in sync with everything that happens on your live server, so if your server goes down due to a power cut or breakage, your business can switch over to the second server and be back up and running quickly.
However, if the server gets a virus or lots of data gets deleted, the second server will replicate that. In these scenarios, your traditional backups will restore you with your data from the point in time prior to the disruptive event.
Introducing Geeks Replication (as part of Geeks BCDR-as-a-service)
We know that our local and offsite backups are still incredibly vital, but if we compare it to Datto BCDR appliance, it lacks replication. So, we’ve fixed that.
At Geeks, we understand the critical role that data security plays in your business’s success, in line with our commitment to provide the best service we can to our clients, we are excited to introduce our replication service for businesses equipped with more recent servers.
This service offers a seamless and efficient way to enhance your data protection strategy, ensuring that your operations get back up and running as soon as possible in the unexpected event of any disruption.
Our replication service included significant investment into hardware, software, and security services to create an optimised replication environment on private cloud rather than public cloud. We wanted our replication service on private cloud so that we can prepare a highly personalised replication environment completely bespoke to your needs and we can set it all up carefully for you. Our experienced engineers will be notified immediately to any faults with your replication, so any issues can be rectified as soon as possible.
We created this environment with a vision to solve our customer’s IT risk during any disruption, but also to give our customers the option to have replication – it’s completely optional if you would like replication or not.
Our Geeks Replication is a cost-effective and private cloud (rather than public) solution, however we know that some businesses like to use Datto solutions, so through our Datto Gold Partnership, we are also able to provide our customers with Datto BCDR which includes replication on public cloud.
When deciding whether replication is a good fit for you and your business, we often find it useful to consider the following questions: “What disruption would my business face if our servers were inaccessible for 3-5 days?” and secondly “How much would that cost my business?” We’re confident our replication solution mitigates this risk (and potential costly downtime) at a very reasonable investment.
In 2023 and beyond, business owners should embrace a multi-layered approach to data security, while traditional backups remain essential, they are not always sufficient to guarantee seamless data recovery. To ensure minimal downtime and rapid data recovery, businesses should look to adopt BCDR strategies, including the powerful protection of replication.