7 Tiers of Data Recovery – Software Aspects

Disaster recovery planning is one of the key components of smooth business security strategy. While hardware component of such planning is well discussed in the manuals and white papers of hardware providers, the software component, being no less important, is often overlooked in the planning.

Solid File System (SolFS) is a software component for programmers working on data storage and data integrity solutions. Integration of SolFS into hard drive recovery solutions will reduce recovery time, minimize data loss and insure data integrity, prevent malicious tempering or destruction, and reduce requirement for highly-skilled IT workforce. This white paper analyzes advantages of SolFS use in the area of data recovery following a disastrous event of any nature.

Recovery Planning

Statistics show (Jim Hoffer, Health Management Technology) that only 6% percent of enterprises fully recover after serious software or hardware disaster, either malicious or due to negligence, while 43% never reopen and the remainder 51% of companies close within two years.

Planning for data recovery became an ubiquitous and necessary process for any company that can not afford significant downtimes due to data loss, and in real life this means every company. The inevitable losses resulted from company activity interruptions can come from:

 

  1. Direct revenue loss
  2. Loss of “face” — customer trust, damage to company image, etc.
  3. Brand damage
  4. Loss of know-hows, insiders information leaks, public availability of privileged data, etc.
  5. Legal costs

 

The key elements needed to prevent these severe consequences of a disaster and to insure business continuity is careful proactive planning of disaster recovery strategy. For every business process such strategy must define a Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO). As always, a right trade off between costs and speed/effectiveness of recovery should be chosen. Obviously, the zero data loss, zero recovery time solutions are the most expensive.

Besides well-known hardware based precautions, one of the way to reduce costs of disaster recovery is use of custom file systems, such as Solid File System. Solid File System allows creation of huge encrypted compressed single file storage’s encompassing any type of data. This paper analyzes possible application of Solid File System (SolFS) on every of seven traditionally identified tiers of business continuity solutions.

Tier 1: Data backup with no hot site

Businesses with Tier 1 continuity solution rely on tape backups made at specific time intervals. These tapes are then shipped off site for storage.

For the reserve copying purposes, it is very convenient to place data into a SolFS-based storage. All documents will be conveniently stored in one file. There is no need to rewind the tape searching for a specific document – the whole storage can be quickly restored.

Moreover, the fact that SolFS has built-in cryptographic protection, allows the company to entrust tape storage to almost any third-party service provider without risk of information leaks. In this case the keys or passwords used for encryption should be safeguarded and kept separately from backups. A loss of such key will not effect feasibility of storage restoration, but will make access do stored data impossible.

SolFS also allows use of incremental backup systems working on the sector-by-sector basis: there is no need to update the whole storage file when minimal changes have been made to the data. Practicability of this approach depends on the frequency of stored file changes, i.e. on the specific application. The advantage of reserve copying whole storage’s is that the backup system does not need to know the internal structure, encapsulation level, or directory tree of the storage. The whole storage will be copied without possibility of loss of a single file attribute.

In addition, SolFS supports native data compression. If a SolFS storage contains data susceptible to compression, use of SolFS for whole storage compression is much more time- and cost-effective than use of regular compression tools applied to separate files or folders. SolFS-based storage’s use journaling for self-integrity checks. If a part of a tape or sector on disk becomes physically damaged and unreadable, the whole storage, save the damaged file(s), remains intact and functional. There is also a possibility to backup separate files from your SolFS storage, if necessary. SolFS Driver Edition allows making access to your storage as regular files and folders from the application of reserve copying or any other application. This also makes possible development of a monitoring tools watching the changes made to files inside a SolFS storage and exporting them in any convenient format for reserve copying or any other manipulations.

Naturally, the restoration of a whole SolFS storage takes more time than a single file, but, as a result, you are getting the whole working storage with all files inter-dependencies and directory content preserved. Such data restore operation can be executed by less qualified personal than that required for a full manual re-assembly of storage structure.

 

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