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Understanding Redundancy within your Online Backup Strategy

July 30, 2014

It is a common misconception that redundancy and data backup are the same thing. While both play a significant role in the process of securing data, they perform very different functions.

Redundancy can be utilized without a data backup strategy. It is very important to understand that redundancy, by itself, is not a backup and an additional form of data protection combined with redundancy is highly advised. Redundancy utilizes multiple internal drives that mirror each other in order to protect against drive failure in real time. The most commonly used redundancy setup is called RAID. Using this method, if one drive fails, there is at least one drive available with the exact data replicated on it so data is not lost and is still usable until the malfunctioning hard drive is replaced. Redundancy is very useful to companies that are concerned with business continuity as it allows productivity to remain unhindered even when a data disaster occurs.

A data backup is when a copy of the data is stored on a separate device or in another location. This could be as simple as emailing a file to yourself so that the data is stored on your computer and in your email, which can be accessed on another computer in the event your computer crashes. Obviously, a more complex and secure data backup strategy is optimal. External hard drives are capable of providing a backup, but they (just like redundancy) are vulnerable to physical distress and damage, such as fires, floods, theft, or the natural wear and tear that comes with time and use. Having a cloud-based backup ensures that one or more copies of data are protected in a remote location, so, in the event the original data is destroyed, a copy is available to restore from an online backup.

Some other important differences between redundancy and backup are that, with redundancy, versioning is not available. The mirrored data stays synced in real time, so when a file is modified, it changes across all the drives. With an online backup, if you'd like to revert back to an older version of a file, you can do so by going back into the backup history and select a previous version. Most online backup providers use RAID-protected industry leading storage devices with multiple levels of redundancy to ensure that data is not only backed up to a remote location, but also backed up to another set of devices for additional security.

Backups are essential for individual consumers and businesses alike. Backing up critical data is imperative, ensuring that your data is recoverable at all times. Utilizing both redundancy and online backup will provide a more comprehensive data protection and recovery plan, but if you are only going to choose one, data backup is crucial.

Ngo, Dong. "Digital Storage Basics, Part 3: Backup vs. Redundancy - CNET." CNET. CBS Interactive Inc., 3 Dec. 2012. Web. 25 July 2014.