As the number of malware and ransomware attacks rise, it is as important to make sure that your organization and personal data is not only being protected, but also being prepared in the event data is breached or lost. While potential attacks can be mitigated, it is imperative that both users and organizations are doing their part to make sure that data can be recovered in the event of a system failure or attack.
With today being World Backup Day, what better way to get in the spirit than to review why this software is so important and what functions it serves to keep individuals and businesses safe?
- What is backup software?
- Why is backup software important?
- How does backup software work?
- Best backup software features
What is backup software?
There are typically two main types of backup software, those on personal computers and those at the business level which are usually applied to every device owned by the company. For this article, both will be touched upon so that either users or enterprises can make the best choices when comparing pricing and features available. Outside of antivirus software, backup software may be some of the most important right now for ensuring the safety of your data.
When it comes to personal applications, backup software in computers is typically used to duplicate information, while also maintaining copies of important files, documents and even entire drives so they can be easily accessed if a system becomes either corrupted or victim of malware or ransomware. This then can provide the user with the ability to restore their system without serious potential damages or losses of data.
It can also be used to maintain crucial proprietary information at the enterprise level, and this can also protect businesses against attack as well as when an employee unknowingly or intentionally attempts to delete important information. With organizational-level backup software, this information is commonly backed up via server or node and has regularly scheduled times when data is saved throughout the day or week.
Why is backup software important?
Losing files and information can be more common than people expect. According to the World Backup Day website, 21% of people have never made a backup to their system and 29% of data loss is made by accident. As a personal user, few things feel worse than unwittingly deleting something and having the realization that there is not a duplicate copy or the piece of data cannot be recovered.
Outside of accidental deletion, there is always the chance that a computer is hacked thus leading to this crippling loss of information or the physical device itself is stolen. Per the World Backup Day site, 113 phones are lost and stolen every minute and 30% of devices are already infected with malware or harmful software without the user being aware. Utilizing a piece of software localized to the personal device being used can assure consumers that precious documents and files are not being misplaced or even intentionally deleted.
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How does backup software work?
The three main types of backups are as follows: full backup, incremental backup and differential backup. Each type comes with its own advantages and disadvantages and it is up to the customer to decide which is best for their own needs.
Full backup is a complete copy of each file made from top to bottom in a system. With an entire system copied, a full backup restoration can be made painless as there is an all-encompassing version made easily available. However, while this is easily the most comprehensive option for those looking to ensure their entire library of files are made safe it does have some downsides, namely storage requirements and time constraints. Due to the time and storage this option requires, it may not be the best option for those on a tight budget or needing quick backup of their files.
Incremental backups are the smallest and quickest type to complete the process of the backup, as it only requires one full backup before it begins altering the files that have changed since. This type also comes with its major drawbacks, one being that it is typically the most time-consuming process of the three because it has to be reconstituted from the last full backup and all the incremental backups since. Another disadvantage is that if a piece of the incremental data was to be corrupted, any updates made since the last full backup would not be available for access, thus rewinding the documents to their earlier state of the last full backup.
The last is a differential backup, a middle option for those looking to split the difference between incremental and full backups. Differential backups are similar to incremental in that only backups to the latest data is saved, but can pull data from either incremental or full backups as the user sees fit or see individual files updated. This allows for a greater amount of flexibility when it comes to selecting the data that gets updated and takes up less space in the system than a full backup does. One downside is that it takes up a greater amount of network bandwidth than an incremental backup, but less than a full backup would, making it an option for enterprises that have the capacity to spare.
Best backup software features
While most localized backup software features overlap, it is imperative that users are investing in the right types of backup programs in order to keep their data as safe as possible. Some of the commonly held features include the ability to schedule backups, data compression and data encryption.
All of these features can be equally important, but it is important to make business decisions based on both the scale and specifications of what these tools can provide, thus potentially cutting down on wasted expenditures and streamlining the way data is stored.
This feature is key, as it allows either personal users or large enterprises to specify a time and day of the week or month for information to be backed up to a central location and be accessed in a time of need or crisis.
Acronis is one popular type of software boasting the scheduled backup feature. Acronis’ scheduling allows users to either designate a recurring backup time or provide continuous protection depending on the needs of the user. This data can then be stored either locally or on a server for safekeeping, providing either persons or enterprises employing the solution the ability to restore their previous saves as needed in the event of an attack or mistaken deletion of critical information.
LiveDrive is another highly reputable piece of software when it comes to scheduled data replication. In addition to the common features of the PC, LiveDrive also offers data protection and duplication on devices such as tablets and mobile devices for personal usage. This provides the ability to secure data even in the event that a phone or tablet is lost or stolen and the power to restore existing information to a new device as necessary.
While enterprises may have plenty of storage for files and documents, data compression is still a sought after feature for many employing backup software. Keeping large files or entire systems on hand can be a costly and space-eating measure, so reducing the size of data can be an important tool when it comes to having several copies of the same data.
Flexera is a popular software provider when it comes to the IT field, specifically. Using Flexera’s compression abilities, users can determine how much of their data is actually going to use, and help cut out any that is unnecessary. Flexera estimates that 31% of desktop software spending is underused or wasted, and the power to cut down on useless data is a powerful tool when it comes to deciding on what information needs to be kept, and what needs to be gotten rid of.
Barracuda’s deduplication feature is another example of data compression, as it can assist with reducing storage needs. This specialty allows data to be deduplicated as it is received by Barracuda’s system, thus minimizing the time it takes for unnecessary data to be both copied and then weeded out. By analyzing the data type and chunk size, this allows organizations to cut down on bandwidth requirements and backup costs as a result.
Data encryption is an important feature for those looking to store either personal information for users or proprietary data for organizations. Encryption allows for another layer of protection in the event that a hack or system breach occurs, providing customers with some peace of mind that malicious actors may not be able to decipher the encryption to access the data.
Carbonite is one such backup solution that provides either businesses or individuals with block-level encryption for their data. By encrypting down at the block layer, this makes data encryption transparent to applications and even whole file systems. However, unlike file system level encryption, it encrypts all data on the disk including file metadata and even free space. Each sector of the disk is protected via a designated password that can unlock and unencrypt the information as required by the user. Another potential drawback of the block encryption, is if a malicious party were to decode the password, the entire system would be available to access.
Dell’s EMC branch offers users similar features when it comes to encryption and protection for files, as its SafeData with Netskope and Absolute encodes documents as needed. Dell EMC’s encryption boasts numerous features, such as: A flexible suite of enhanced security solutions that includes software-based encryption, enhanced management of Microsoft BitLocker and protection of data on external media, self-encrypting drives, mobile devices and data in public cloud storage services. This all-in-one solution can protect any number of devices whether mobile or not via its SafeData platform.
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Another major feature when it comes to backup software is providing the ability to reclaim files if they are corrupted or hacked. With data recovery, users are able to restore documents in the event of an attack or hardware malfunction using different platforms. It is imperative to those working at the enterprise level that work is not obstructed long-term and that both executives and employees have access to the information as needed.
Backupify is one of the software providers specializing in two key areas. For those in Office 365 and Google Workspace, this can be invaluable as the two platforms sometimes lack the ability to retrieve backed up documents on their own. Using Backupify’s data recovery system, users can automatically salvage lost files through these two sets of collaboration tools, and even proactively disable former employees or deprovisioned licenses from deleting Google or Microsoft-based files. This platform is also practical in the event that Google Workspace or Office 365 suffer outages, assuring users that their files will not be deleted or corrupted in the event of a system failure or disruption.
For those looking to ensure data recovery outside of specific platforms, Backblaze is an option that even provides a free alternative for those looking to reclaim data at the personal level. Backblaze keeps old file versions and deleted files for up to 30 days for those looking not to break the bank on data recovery, and offers cheap options as little as $2 per month for those looking to reclaim data from one calendar year. This piece of software additionally boasts the ability to have all necessary information backed up at high speeds for personal users while not limiting PC performance to do so.
For those wanting to rollback entire systems, some of the backup recovery systems offer what is known as a transaction mechanism. This database management model can help prevent loss of previously backed up data through critical processes being transactional. Through wholesale rollbacks, users can undo entire changes to a database. Users can also designate points in time for entire systems to be reverted to earlier versions in the case of a data breach.
Veritas is one option for those looking to employ transaction mechanism methods. This database uses log-based recovery, as the log sequence contains all of the transactions from within a system. When a system log is stored in a stable location, it can help users to recover their database after a system failure or breach. This database contains information about transactions to execute, transaction states and modified values, and are all stored in their order of execution.
Time Machine and Windows Backup
Both Windows and Mac users each have their own free options that use the system rollback to restore the device to its earlier state. For Mac users, there is a built-in function readily available that executes this same process for free called Time Machine. Alternatively for devices running operating systems at Windows 10 or higher, this feature is simply called Windows Backup. While both of these options are available for free, they rely on local system storage and may not be as reliable as rolling back databases stored elsewhere if the machine as a whole is corrupted.