Dedicated Servers – Backup and Recovery Strategies

Posted by: Admin  :  Category: Web Hosting

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What kind of backup recovery strategy should a company have for its dedicated server? Web hosting companies have been debating this architecture since their existence began.  It is really a question pondered by the whole IT community. There are many right solutions, dependent on your company’s ability to handle downtime.  The correct solution for you will factor in the amount of redundant protection you need against the overall cost.

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Before we discuss the different options for backing up and recovering your dedicated server, we should mention that the server hardware, data center, and fiber connection are all critical to reliability. This article is specifically focused on strategies to backup and recover your server’s data.
At a minimum, you can create a partition in your hard drive and backup your server weekly or monthly. There is no cost to this kind of solution, but the downsides are obvious. If your hard drive crashes, you will lose your backup as well. This kind of solution is only recommended if you can afford to lose all of your data, which most web hosting companies cannot.
Next, you can contract a remote backup service to set up offsite backups. These backups can be run daily, weekly, or monthly. The cost of this solution is around $ 30-$ 50/month depending on the web hosting provider. This option gives you a solid backup in case your hard drive crashes. The downside is that recovery time will take 6-12 hours or more depending on how much data you have. The data has to be manually copied over, and this is a slow process. If you can afford the cost, this solution is part of an overall backup system, but it is not recommended as your only solution.
The next backup option is to have a second hard drive installed on your server and have it set up to do daily, weekly, or monthly backups. Most web hosting companies that provide dedicated servers will charge between $ 15-$ 30 for a second hard drive. This is a nice compliment to the previous solution if you have the budget for both. The recovery time is faster then a remote backup. But unlike a remote backup, if your dedicated server or the datacenter are down, then you cannot access the backup. For most small web hosting companies this is not a problem. If their entire server or datacenter are down, they have larger issues to worry about. We recommend this as a complimentary option with a remote backup.
Next, a web hosting company can use mirrored RAID drives. This option will cost $ 50-$ 80/month more, but it provides the fastest possible recovery in case of a hard drive crash. You can just reboot using the mirrored drive, and you are back in business. The cost is a little higher, but this is a nice luxury. The downside of this option is that if your server is unavailable, then you still cannot reach your data. Additionally, if the hard drive becomes corrupted it will also corrupt your backup. This is why we recommend mirrored drives as part of a larger solution that includes other backup systems.
Finally, there are mirrored servers. This entails the largest cost and is really not necessary, except for those web hosting companies that can tolerate no downtime at all. In this scenario, if the server itself dies you can have another server ready to take the load. In fact, if your company is large enough, you might already need this kind of solution for performance. Some websites require multiple servers to handle the performance, and it is load balanced across them. In this case, if a server dies the system still runs. This is the best solution but it is not always necessary.  And, of course it is costly.
We recommend a weekly remote backup to provide you with a fail safe version. Even if the datacenter burns down, you will have a copy of your data. To this we would add either mirrored RAID drives or a second hard drive, depending on your hosting company’s needs. If you are more worried about recovery time from hard drive crashes, which is the most frequent hardware problem with dedicated servers, then go with the RAID drives. If you are more worried about the hard drive getting corrupted, go with the second hard drive.

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We hope this article provides you with the information you need to adequately back up your dedicated server!

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