Best practice backups

Planning a backup solution is not about selecting a backup type and a backup destination, and then leaving it to run. That is a short cut for a critical business function, and a recipe for disaster.

Developing a best practice backup solution involves looking at the different backup types, backup destinations and backup schedules available, and then selecting the mix that best protects your business. The key word here is ‘Mix’. When it comes to backups, it is unwise to put your all eggs on one basket and risk a single point of failure.

iSCSI and NAS destinations

iSCSI targets and NAS devices are backup destinations that deserve a special mention because they can, and often do, provide only a single physical backup destination. You can create multiple backup locations or folders on your iSCSI or NAS device, but if it is the same physical media, you are not running a best practice backup solution, and your data is not properly protected.

An iSCSI or NAS destination that provides a single physical backup destination, should be augmented by another physical backup destination such as a removable drive. You can then schedule your backup jobs to use both destinations. For example, your daily backups could use the iSCSI or NAS destination, and your archive backups (weekly, monthly etc.) can use the removable drives.

Not all backups are created equal

Some backup types are more suitable for certain tasks than others. System Protection backups are great for protecting entire servers and server applications like Hyper-V and Exchange. File Protection backups on the other hand, are ideal for backing up files and folders, and performing quick restores.

When you plan your backup solution, use two types of backup jobs so that you have flexible restore options. For example, daily and weekly System Protection backups of your entire server, as well as a weekly File Protection backup of just your File Share. This way your server is protected, and if someone loses a word doc, you don’t have to mount and access a disk image to restore it - you just grab the document from your last File Protection backup.

Take the time to look at your backup jobs and see how you could further protect your data. Remember, you need a full bare-metal System Protection backup to perform a recovery. You can also do System Protection backups of just your applications and data. It’s about finding the right mix. We suggest adding a File Protection or File Archiving backup as well for those frequently requested files.

The key to successful backups

The key to backups is - rotation, rotation, rotation.

Backup rotation

Have a mix of daily and archive backups. Daily backups are backups you create each day and maybe overwrite the following week. Archive backups are weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly backups that are kept in a secure location, separate to the server that was backed up. These archive backups can be retained forever or written over each week or month or quarter or year, as part of an archive backup rotation. What’s important is that your backup rotation includes both daily and archive backups. BackupAssist comes with a set of custom schemes that make backup rotation easy. See our article on backup schedules.

If you do not have archive backups, you are not running a best practice backup solution and your data is not properly protected.

Media rotation

Your backups should not all be kept on the same physical backup destination. Doing so allows for one point of failure. This is the backup-land equivalent of - putting all your eggs in one basket. Make sure your backup job uses a backup destination, or a mix of backup destinations, that provide different physical media (tape, drive, cartridge etc.) - and rotate those media.

If all of your backups use the same physical media, you are not running a best practice backup solution and your data is not properly protected.

A backup rotation using rotated media is the cornerstone of any backup solution.


A bad backup solution is easy to implement. So is a good one. Take the time to ensure that your backup solution is best practice - and remember:

  • Have both daily and archive backups, and have backup destinations that allow you to move your archive backups to a location that is separate to the data that is being backed up.
  • Use a mix of backup types to allow for a mix of convenient restore and recovery options.
  • Never use the same physical location for all of your backups, and combine iSCSI or NAS destinations with additional physical media, such as removable drives for archive backups.