Backups, saving us from evil!
Backing up your data can save you from disaster!
Let's discuss the "WHY" of backups
Has a user deleted a critical file?
Did a server crash and render your database offline?
Have you been a victim of ransomware?
These are all scenarios where backups are PRICELESS.
Most companies consider backups an unnecessary cost until disaster strikes, then it becomes a critical function. Start now and make disaster recovery a methodical procedure that doesn’t involve having a heart attack!
Let's discuss the "WHAT" of backups
It’s easy to say, “just back up all your data” but what does that mean in practice?
There are many sources of data to protect, here are the most common:
- The average files that most people think of.
- Databases (Microsoft access, MYSQL or Microsoft SQL databases)
- Corporate website (WordPress, joomla, etc)
Those are great choices but here are a few sources of data that usually get neglected:
- Firewall, switch, and WiFi configurations.
- Bare metal server backups.
- Security incident response information
- HR information (usually kept isolated from other data).
Now that we have you thinking about the data that might not be backed up, let’s move on to the “HOW” of backing up your data.
Now the "HOW"
At Interon, we believe it is best to reduce everything to files. Sure, backing up files in the normal sense usually involves taking existing files and copying them to another location. We go a little deeper than that.
First, we are firm believers in TRUENAS. With this storage solution, you have several benefits:
- ZFS snapshots. This is a fancy term that means you get periodic copies of all your data that can roll back in less than a minute. Very handy if you are hit with ransomware (always plan to be a victim).
- Easy integration with cloud based backup scenarios. This means those periodic snapshots are routinely moved to the cloud for disaster recovery. Backblaze works very well in this scenario.
Let’s take the power of TRUENAS and store much more data(protection) on it. You have databases, right? Everybody does. Let’s use software and scripts to automate the backups of those databases to folders on your TRUENAS. Don’t forget to monitor how long those backups take and create snapshots on the NAS shortly after that.
Since we are putting really useless data on our NAS, we should discuss metal. No, not gold or steel, but something much more precious: your servers.
The "HOW", continued
We have really had good luck with PROXMOX virtualization for running company workloads. PROXMOX is open source which means the base product is free. You pay for support contracts of various levels, or no support contract at all if you wish.
By running PROXMOX, the servers are virtual and can be backed up to that nifty NAS, which then transfers the data periodically to the cloud. Now we are really making progress with our protection!
We typically back up the servers to the TRUENAS weekly and the databases (or other workloads) twice a day or daily. We schedule file snapshots every 30 minutes. All this data is typically uploaded to the cloud (backblaze for us) nightly.
We schedule our infrastructure devices to back up their configurations daily since the data is so small. Guess where those configuration files are stored? You’re a genius, the TRUENAS.
While you are at it, you may as well use windows backup to keep all your Active Directory data safe. It’s easy to schedule, and can be stored on the NAS, protected by snapshots.
As you can see, TRUENAS can be a file server for your typical corporate files but it comes in very handy when talking about protection from any type of evil.
You may have noticed that we didn’t mention commercial backup software yet. If you already have a backup solution, GREAT! If not, you might not need it if you stick to the built-in tools for most products. The combination of TRUENAS, snapshots, and offsite replication can protect you from deleted files, ransomware, and disasters without a costly software purchase.
Now Restore Your Data
Backing up your data was the easy part. Now let’s restore it to make sure it is usable.
Take baby steps and restore a snapshot from your TRUENAS to make sure that works as intended. Did you files show up in a new dataset (the easiest way to test)?
If so, now it is time to try your Active Directory backup. Build a temporary machine (you ARE using proxmox or some other hypervisor for virtualization, right?) and restore that AD backup.
Did you grab that backup from your SQL server? It’s time to restore that backup to a new SQL server(again, a great reason to have virtual servers, you can even clone your existing server).
If all backups from your NAS are working, it is time to grab your data that replicated to backblaze and verify your offsite backups are working as well.
You can purchase a TRUENAS applicane or use server hardware that you purchase independently.
You can use reuse existing servers if they meet the minimum hardware specs. The TRUENAS software is free to download. There is no trial, and is fully functional. Contact us today for assistance with a proven data protection strategy!
We hope this article has been informative for you. Interon protects the data for many corporations, both large and small, and the economic and security benefits for our clients have been immense. If you would like to learn more or hire us to implement any or all of the technologies discussed feel free to call us or use our CONTACT US page to request more information!