Backups: File-Based vs. Image-Based

Backups are essential. Mistakes happen, and files get deleted. What can be done to recover the data, and what are the implications?

Unfortunately, backup software is not retroactive; it cannot recover data that was deleted prior to the software being installed. It’s extremely crucial to have a backup solution from the very start.

These solutions come in two main flavors: file-based and image-based.

File-based backups are what most people envision when they hear the word “backup.” A very popular solution, that many people are familiar with, is Carbonite. File-based backups are useful when you know what you want to back up, and where that data is located. This solution allows you to pick and choose what you want to be backed up, which allows for very granular, or particular, backups. If you do not want to backup that photo of your Aunt Sally, you don’t need to. However, if you add a file and forget to select it for backup, there is no restoring it when the need arises. File-based backup solutions are not reliable for backing up installed programs and system files, as these files are stored in multiple locations on a computer. While recovery of individual files may be quick, rebuilding an entire system using this backup method is timing consuming and will cost your business precious hours lost to downtime.

Image-based backup solutions work differently. You do not have the ability to choose which data is protected. Instead, everything is protected, including that photo of Aunt Sally. It captures all data stored on the drives you choose to backup. It is our best practice to protect all system and data drives on a server. Because your system and program files are protected, you have the most complete and quickest recovery solution at your disposal. Everything will be recovered. And due to the technology these solutions are built upon, backups are unobtrusive and therefore can be done very frequently. If your sprinkler goes off and fries your file server you will be able to recover data from just an hour ago.

In most cases, file-based backup solutions are better for home and personal computers. You can choose to backup family photos and priceless memories, but you do not have much need to restore lost system files. Due to the nature of a business and the demands placed upon users, file-based backup solutions struggle to protect all of the necessary data.

Image-based backup solutions will always protect your entire system. As a reminder, you must store the data in the correct location for the backup to do its job to the fullest. In a business setting, image-based backup solutions are a necessity and are as priceless as the data that runs and supports your business.

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