Is backup really broken? Is there more?

I saw in a co-worker’s work blog article that one of the things from the Gartner DC conference was that backup was broke.  Plus recently I saw this about how its not backup but restore.  I am a guy that has done a lot with back up / restore / and DR too.  In fact one gig in my PS days was to visit all of our customers and test their backups.

But the Gartner thing got me thinking.  I think that they have a point, and my co-worker does on restore, but I think that there is something else to think about.  No matter what your backup product is, nor if you call it restore, but if you test it regularly and it works, then I think you are in a very good position – so backup is not broken in that case, nor is it a bad word.  I know – I have seen some serious research on this – that many people don’t do many restores or any tests and expect everything to work when then need it.  In that case it is broke.

If you don’t test, then you should.  You should make sure you are using the current version of your solution, and make sure it works.  Test backup, and restore and in restore testing make sure you can pull a file and a VM or physical machine back.  Make sure the file comes back and is functional but also preserves all of the metadata that file should have – like ACL info.

But if you do test and all is good, it is right that you ask about if there is more?  And there is, but you don’t need to go there unless you really actually need to as it will always cost more money!  Trying to help you avoid the grass is always greener situation.

What is more?

I have asked people about this before.  There is often silly stuff, but sometimes good things to.  Let me talk about this using what people have said they want in the flavor of more.

Off-site – VMs

This is an important one.  I have heard it from a bunch of people in the past, especially vDR and VDP users.  Good news is that it is not hard.  The current stuff of VDPA (and VDP too I think) can replicate and in fact replicate with the cloud.  Don’t forget the great Veeam software can also replicate offsite and it has a great solution of partners you can replicate to in the cloud as well.  Plus it is pretty darn easy!  But also, if you use vSphere Replication for anything it now has a replicate to the cloud option too.  If you use Zerto that too can replicate to the cloud.  So this is a lot of choices for big or small companies to deal with in the flavor of more and make their VMs a little safer as welll.

Off-site – files

I have talked with a couple of people lately who want their CIFS shares a little safer.  So more to them means CIFS data off-site.  However they are users of backup software that is not so flexible.  So that means they are stuck with doing a backup to a external hard drive, or tape, move them off-site and restore as necessary.  However, while this works, it is something that is so in the past!  Here is what I suggested – buy SyncBackPro, and do a scheduled copy to AWS / Glacier.  If you use Glacier it is not very expensive to backup and while it is a bit more expensive to restore, I think it quite reasonably priced – which really makes good sense.  One small office I chatted with uses Synology – another product I really like – and they were surprised to learn they can use Glacier with their Synology today!

Also, for those of you at home you can use excellent choices like CrashPlan or BackBlaze and they both will do an excellent job of getting your files off-site.  I have used both and like both but I am using BackBlaze and recommend it.

Important to note that I am not suggesting replication is actually backup.  But it can be a part of backup when you move something off-site, and then move it back when you need to like Veeam or Zerto does.

User Restores

I hear this one often and it makes lots of sense.  A variety of products support this but mostly it is not as easy as it should be.  I believe it is getting better in the market but we will see.


I have heard this a number of times.  Especially from the Networker and Tivoli shops.  However they are tools that are for the very biggest and most complex shops so you need to expect some complexity.  For certain the trend is getting better meaning that as there is more SaaS that helps out these shops, and as replication tools can replicate to the cloud that helps too.  Plus even these complex products are getting a little easier to use!  I have had several people ask me about if I think Veeam will backup physical machines as that is the level of hard and easy they think perfect.  I first said yes a number of years ago and I still think yes.

Trends that will help

There are a number of trends that are going to help.  More SaaS is one that will really help.  But software like Backup Exec has gotten pretty easy and I think we will see a replicate to the cloud in it soon and that is a good thing.  I love how simple tools like SynbackPro and Veeam both have excellent replication choices.  AWS / Glacier is a very smart idea and I think we will see more like it over time.  All of these things are part of a trend I think that is making things easier for people.

In the theme of this trend my employer is looking at backup differently  and while we may use a variety of words for it like backup or protection (not sure what will be next word) the fact is we are making things easier, and more accessible (see this for real examples).  So backup happens without you really noticing, and restores are actually for end users and easy.  And we will continue the trend of making it easier too!

I would love to hear any comments!


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