Backup Decision: Choosing Between File and Image Level Backups

Most business owners don’t think about the importance of backups until they need one.

Backups should be the major backbone of data and server maintenance plans. They don’t have to be done nightly, but regular backups can stop a situation of having days of data loss.

There are two kinds of backups: image and file. Each can take up several gigabytes of storage space, but with cloud hosting, storage space is less of an issue than determining which type of backup is needed for the business’ data protection.

Most people are familiar with file-level backups. File backups copy only those files that need to be stored in case of an emergency. Even home users have file level backups on a separate hard drive or on DVDs in case the computer crashes. File level backups do not take up as much space as image backups, but they can grow to enormous capacity if servers hold a large amount of files. For instance, a file server generally holds large amounts of files for all of the users on the network.

These files are backed up in case the file server crashes, so users do not lose their data. File backups are also useful for backing up databases, application files and emails.

Full-image backups are complete replications of a hard drive. They are by far the most useful when the administrator needs to either create a new server with a replica of information from a previous server or a server crashes and the administrator needs to restore it.

Image backups take up as much space as the information held on the hard drive, but it saves hours of emergency restoration when the server crashes. The administrator doesn’t need to reinstall any applications or copy over files. Restore the image backup and all applications and files are restored. The downside to this option is the large amount of storage space needed to host the backups. One backup can take up several hundred gigabytes.

For maximum security, store these files in the cloud. Cloud backups ensure that they are never lost, and they are available wherever and whenever. Cloud hosts also secure the data, so even if the company is hacked, backups are available untouched to restore any damaged hard drive data.

Author Bio: Jennifer Marsh is a software developer, programmer and technology writer and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.

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