Disaster Recovery Data Protection: DIY Backup Pitfalls to Avoid

Greg Schulz

When it comes to disaster recovery data protection and do-it-yourself (DIY) backup, are you aware of the pitfalls to avoid?

Data protection is the collection of technologies, hardware, software, services, tools, policies and practices that combine to create data infrastructures (e.g., what’s inside data centers). The fundamental role of data infrastructures and data protection is to protect, preserve, secure and manage information.

Under the umbrella of data protection is availability, high-availability (HA), business continuance (BC), disaster recovery (DR), backup/restore, archiving and security (both physical and logical). There are several components of data protection and various methods to choose from. For instance, there’s software that makes protection copies, tools for performing data protection and copy data management as well as tools for interfacing with applications and protection storage devices, systems, appliances and services (e.g., cloud technology). There’s also local and remote protection storage, in addition to secondary data centers, co-locations, managed services and cloud sites.

With any data protection approach, there is going to be some aspect that you do yourself. While you can do it all by yourself end to end, and complete the system from scratch, you can also choose among various DIY activities for backup disaster recovery data protection. You might set up, configure and manage your offsite repository for protection copies, create your cloud or software-defined protection storage repository, customize scripts or even manage your data protection environment by leveraging external expertise and resources.

One pitfall to look out for is trying to do too much yourself on a quest to save money. A common perception (and trap) is that there are people on staff being paid for their time, so why not have them do an end-to-end DIY data protection implementation? Unless your staff has spare time for DIY data protection, this would cause them to be pulled away from other primary tasks.

A data protection activity you may consider doing yourself is creating, managing and running your alternate location for backup, BC, DR and data protection. There are significant expenses needed to operate, maintain and keep an alternate data center up to date. Consider staffing, power, cooling and the cost of data infrastructure resources (server, storage, networks, software). Instead of doing it yourself, there are many different options that can meet the diverse needs of various-sized organizations for offsite backup, BC, DR and data protection. These range from managed services, co-locations and cloud offerings to different hybrid combinations of service resources.

Besides the cost of setting up and maintaining a data protection site, there are also costs associated with managing the protection copies and related activities. In addition to leveraging external resources and locations, many solutions or services also have data protection management tools.

Data protection management tools can track what copies (backups, snapshots, replicas, versions) you have stored, as well as provide other valuable insights. Having awareness via timely reporting enables you to avoid flying blind while managing your data protection environment. Instead of building it all from scratch yourself, explore what services provide data protection management insight, monitoring and reporting as part of a value-add.

Look into how time and money is spent maintaining data protection resources that could be used for other purposes. In other words, if more time is spent developing, enhancing, fixing and updating facilities and equipment in a DIY solution, why not explore managed service options?

When it comes to tasks like backup/restore, DR and other data protection needs, some things might appear to be a lower cost with a DIY approach. However, it’s important to learn what the trade-offs or pitfalls are before committing to do it yourself. What you might discover is a hybrid approach that leverages both DIY management and external services.

Similar to home projects, there are some tasks you can do yourself and others that are better off in the hands of a professional. The same idea applies to DIY data protection, both at home and in the workplace.

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