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Remote Office Backups

Remote office backups are usually performed by having someone at each remote office be responsible for backing up data in that office to a local tape drive. The challenge is that many remote office backups are not being performed correctly or reliably since these offices have no IT staff that can respond to the many issues that crop up when backups fail.

As a result, many companies are looking for new solutions to the remote office backup problem.

One approach to resolving this remote office backup problem is to have all remote office data replicated to a central office or data center where trained IT staff can centrally manage all aspects of the backup process.

Replication systems are designed to keep files between two or more sites up to date with each other. As changes are made at one site, the changes are replicated to one or more additional sites. New files are replicated in their entirety when they are first created, but when files are modified over time, most replication products only transmit the bytes or blocks of data that changed from one version of the file to another. Since just the changes to files are replicated, the amount of wide-area network bandwidth consumed between sites is minimal. This makes replication a good solution for moving data from one or more remote offices to a primary office where it can be backed up as a part of the nighttime backup run by trained backup IT staff.

Replication software must be installed onto each server at a remote office and at a replication server at the central site. When a nightly or weekend backup job starts up at the central site with the replication server as a backup client, all of the replicated files from all remote offices are backed up through the backup server to disk or tape.

Replication alone does not replace backup. Any accidental file deletion or any file corruption that occurs at the remote office gets deleted or corrupted at the central site replication server. When this occurs, a restore from some form of backup data set must be performed. Therefore, weekend and nightly backups of replicated data are required to maintain the history of these replicated files.

Since replication products do not consume lots of WAN bandwidth, many service providers offer remote site replication services to maintain updated copies centrally at their data centers. Replication software moves data from one or more customer servers across the WAN to the service provider’s data center where it is centrally backed up.

The WAN traffic between sites during peak work hours is typically consumed for most companies, even without replicating remote office data to a central facility. For this reason, replication software can be configured to perform data replication to a central site only during off-peak times. In this case, backups should be configured to start when all data from remote offices has been replicated to the central facility’s replication server.

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