Magazine Article | October 17, 2013

Don't Get Burned By An Image-Only Backup Philosophy

By The Business Solutions Network

An MSP’s foresight to incorporate image- and file-based backups proves wise after a client discovers several deleted files.

Hard drive failures. Fires. Floods. When most people think about data loss, these are the common scenarios that run through their minds. Yet another cause of data loss, which is much more common, is the accidental deletion of files. And, it’s less likely to be protected by many image-based backup systems for mobile laptops due to the need for an external drive. In most cases, it’s easier for the person who made or discovered the deleted file error to recreate the document or presentation from scratch rather than to contact support, locate the latest image backup, and try to retrieve the needed file.

Over the past couple of years, the case for file-based backup has become even more important as a significant number of workers have gone mobile. In fact, the latest research from IDC predicts that by 2015, more than 37 percent of the workforce will be mobile. The reason it’s so important for VARs and MSPs (managed services providers) that sell image-only data backup and recovery solutions to understand this trend is that more and more of your customers are using laptops (and other mobile devices), and they’re not always tethered to the corporate network where backups take place.

Adjust Your Backup Strategy To Meet Your Customers’ Changing Needs
Michael Bush, managing partner at Digital Minds International, understands the changes happening in his customers’ businesses, and he’s fought through the process over the years of trying to keep up with various backup and recovery products as the vendors have evolved their strategies for backing up and recovering data. “We’ve been in business since 1997, and over the years we’ve worked with more than half a dozen different backup vendors,” he says. “We don’t always select a new vendor because the previous one is bad; sometimes it’s just a matter of one vendor meeting a customer’s needs better than another.”

When it comes to protecting mobile customers’ data, Digital Minds’ go-to partner over the years has been — and continues to be — GFI MAX. “The GFI MAX Backup solution works differently from image-based backup solutions,” says Bush. “First, a small program called an agent is loaded onto the client’s PC or laptop — a process that can be performed remotely via the GFI MAX RMM [remote monitoring and management] tool or on-site. Next, the program allows the MSP to select which files and folders are supposed to be backed up using a check-box system.” Then, when the PC or laptop connects to the Internet, the program runs in the background and backs up data to GFI’s cloud at a scheduled time — or right away if a scheduled time was missed.

Remote Data Restores Made Easy
Recently, while attending a trade show, Bush received an urgent call from a medical equipment sales client that validated his decision to supplement the client’s imagebackup with a file-based cloud backup solution. “The client has a lot of outside sales reps who use laptops to enter data into their CRM system and to give sales presentations,” he says. “Because the sales reps can go days without connecting to the network at the main office, we changed them from an image-based backup to GFI MAX Backup last year to address their need.”

When Bush received a call from the client, he learned that one of his client’s employees had left the company and deleted several files on his laptop right before he left. “While still at the tradeshow, I was able to log in remotely to the client’s laptop, identify the deleted files, and start the restore process with the click of a button,” says Bush. “Within ten minutes, all the deleted files had been restored.” The backup solution keeps 28 days’ worth of revisions in the cloud, so even if the files had been deleted over several weeks, they still could have been recovered. “What’s nice about this solution, too, is that it has interfaces with other GFI MAX IT services [e.g. network security and email spam filtering], and we can monitor everything from a single screen. And, you don’t need a high-level engineer to interpret the dashboard. There’s either a green checkmark next to a backup that performed properly or a red ‘X’ next to a device that didn’t get backed up for some reason.”

Bush also likes that the monthly cost of the solution is based on how much data clients back up, making it a good source of incremental revenue growth. “All the years I’ve been in business, I’ve only seen customers’ data storage needs grow; I’ve never seen them shrink,” he says.