Have We Been Scared Into Better Backups?

Have We Been Scared Into Better Backups?

Floods, bushfires, earthquakes, nuclear disasters — if those events in 2011 didn’t demonstrate the importance of having a good backup and disaster recovery solution, I don’t know what would. But a recent survey suggests that plenty of businesses still haven’t got their backup strategy sorted.

The Acronis Global Disaster Recovery Index surveyed 6,000 businesses across the globe, including 311 in Australia. Australians were much more content about their backup strategies than in the previous year’s survey: 36 per cent said that they were more confident that their backup and DR operations would not fail. While an improvement is welcome, that still means almost two-thirds of those surveyed lack that confidence. That figure was lower than the global average, which was on 50 per cent.

Data outages are a fact of life. 82 per cent of the Australian companies surveyed had experienced a data outage, though for the majority this was less than half a day. It’s not surprising given the volumes involved: a typical business produces 40 terabytes of new data in a year, the survey suggested.

Perhaps more disturbingly, 36 per cent of the Australian businesses surveyed still didn’t have an offsite backup strategy, and 38 per cent back up virtual servers less often than actual servers. In a country where only a moron could not be aware of the potential threats to on-site data, why are a third of us still not getting it right?

Karl Sice, Pacific general manager for Acronis, suggests finances are one issue. Overall DR budgets actually fell 1 per cent year-on-year, so the increased confidence in part reflects better testing of existing systems, not new technologies. A complex mix of applications is also an issue: 42 per cent of those surveyed used three or more backup systems, which makes efficiency a challenge. “There’s a difference between understanding and action.”

The graphic on this story shows common global responses to the question “What are your biggest backup and DR challenges?” Another challenge has been the rise in hard drive prices in the wake of flooding in Thailand, which has made deploying backup servers a slightly more complex proposition. Sice said he had seen evidence of some customers moving to use more cloud backup as a consequence of that change.

How prepared is your business for disaster recovery? Share your experience in the comments.

Evolve is a weekly column at Lifehacker looking at trends and technologies IT workers need to know about to stay employed and improve their careers.


  • Over the last year I’ve focussed on backing up the raw data first and foremost, and complete systems after.

    In the event of a moderate-scale disaster*, I’m confident we wont lose more than a days work – but it’d involve at least 24 hours downtime while we rebuilt the key systems (email, main database) around that data. I could definitely improve on that, but it’d involve a lot more complexity and expense for a relatively low return.

    *I’m defining a ‘moderate scale disaster’ as anything big enough to physically destroy all the servers but small enough that it doesn’t lay waste to a big chunk of the city.

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