Tech Basics: Backup Speak

Continuing from my recent post on backup basics, there are some things to know before we get too deep into the details.

Backwards analog clock with caption

Because not everyone can afford a DeLorean.

The overall premise of data backup is to protect your stuff. Simple enough until you start looking at the range of solutions. You could argue that everything from an old beat-up flash drive to a completely redundant data center is “backup.”

How to compare? Fortunately there are some industry-standard buzzwords:

RPO: Recovery Point Objective. How old is the stuff you recover?

RTO: Recovery Time Objective. How long does it take to get your stuff back?

Retention. How long your stuff is saved and when old copies are written over or destroyed.

File backup. Your stuff is saved file-by-file.

Image backup. Your stuff is saved as hard drive blocks.

Scheduled Backup. Your stuff is saved at regular intervals.

Continuous Data Protection. Your stuff is saved as changes are made.

Full Backup. Saves a full copy of your stuff.

Differential backup. Saves stuff that’s changed since the last full backup.

Incremental backup. Saves only stuff that’s changed since the last backup of any kind.

Shadow Copy. A copy of your stuff that some systems will make when a new copy is saved.

Delta. The parts of your stuff that have changed since we last checked it.

Archive. Keeping your stuff for a set period of time, usually for legal reasons. Like tax returns in a storage box.

Disaster Recovery. Getting your stuff back (and running) after something bad happens.

BDR/BDR Device. A self-contained computer with lots of hard drive space, programmed to save image backups of your computers. Can usually run copies of those computers in case of major failure.

Bare-Metal Recovery. The ability to re-load your stuff onto a computer without installing Windows first.

Hardware-Independent Restore. The ability to re-load a backup onto a computer that’s not an exact match.

Failover. An extra whatever that will start working in case the first whatever stops working.

Deduplication. Looks for matching stuff and keeps only a single copy of it. Say you have two copies of Moby Dick, de-dupe saves one and puts a link where the other one would go.

<Whatever>-Aware. A backup that can work with a specific program, usually a mail server or database, to back it up properly. Most file backups don’t handle databases well unless they’re “aware.”

Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.

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