Storage Guardian’s Online Backup Tips

Storage Guardian is helping small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) implement stringent data preservation policies for online data backups as they close out 2009. The end of a year marks an important milestone, and is a logical opportunity to take an electronic snapshot of all documents, presentations, email messages, calendars and appointments, and contact records. The question is: which documents should be archived, and onto which media so as to strike a balance between availability (instant is best) and expense (instant availability costs more)?

“Depending on your business, there might be federal or state regulatory requirements that dictate what needs to be preserved, and for how long. In our experience, the most conservative approach is to use online backup and to institute a comprehensive business document retention policy that examines all data types and distinguishes between ‘operationally critical’ data and ‘important but static’ data,” says Dave Minns, client services manager at Storage Guardian. “When selecting an online backup provider, make sure that the provider lets you define a data retention policy that can migrate aged data to less expensive storage, and that does not delete it after 30 days.”

Implementing Backup Lifecycle Management
Storage Guardian recommends a ‘set it and forget it’ approach based on Backup Lifecycle Management (BLM), which intelligently migrates ‘static’ data to lower-cost storage media that can cost as little as 50 cents per compressed gigabyte.

Examples of static data that is a good candidate for this approach:
File types that will have only a single generation / version, and will not change again: photos, audio-visual media, PDFs, images, one-time log files, etc.
Email, calendar, task, to-do records that have aged past a user-defined point in time
Instant Message & Web chat logs
Voice recording files
Folder structures holding prior years’ business record files

Operationally critical data that should be kept in high-availability storage includes:
Exchange, Outlook, SharePoint, GroupWise, Notes, and other email system data stores
Documents that are continually changing, such as financial records (QuickBooks, Quicken)
SQL and SQL-style databases. These are dynamic in nature, and typically hold active information as well as aged information
Operating system-related files and components needed for bare-metal restores

“We work closely with our customers to define the policies governing how their data is stored, at what point it becomes less operationally critical, and when to automatically transfer aged data to tiered storage from more costly high-availability disk space,” adds Minns. “For resellers and managed service providers, we offer comprehensive training so that they can manage this process for their customers.”

Owners of many small businesses are still feeling cautious about the economic climate; for some, this has meant reduced IT budgets and headcount. If you’re a small business that doesn’t have a dedicated IT team, talk to your IT consultant or managed services provider to determine what is the most cost-effective approach.

Storage Guardian is the small-business leader for online backup
With more than ten years of experience and hundreds of satisfied customers, Storage Guardian’s remote data backup service has established itself as a dependable provider of enterprise-grade online backup technology for smaller companies. What sets it apart from the many low-cost alternatives in the market are online data backup features optimized for businesses that depend on Microsoft Small Business Server 2003/2008, Microsoft Exchange, and Lotus Notes:

Storage Guardian’s tiered-storage approach includes a) a local backup of first-generation data; b) a highly available second tier of online backup; c) a third tier of near-line backups of mature data (typically backups that have aged past 90 days).
Convenience and flexibility are two crucial considerations when a major data restore is needed after a catastrophic server failure. Storage Guardian offers the ability to perform a ‘bare metal restore’ to a completely different computer.

To save time for new customers, the initial backup is performed on a portable drive that is then shipped to Storage Guardian. Similarly, if a major restore of a large amount of data is needed, Storage Guardian can overnight a portable drive containing the data to be restored.
Storage Guardian’s ultra-secure online backup technology uses AES 256-bit encryption plus hardware authentication. Information to be backed up is de-duplicated (deduped), compressed and encrypted before transmission to Storage Guardian’s SAS-70 compliant datacenter.

Storage Guardian can also backup and restore individual mailboxes and contacts from MS Exchange and Outlook.


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