In this modern era rife with the myriad efficiencies of computers, smart phones and other digital devices, the fact that some people still tout the value of using tape technology for anything is truly baffling. Indeed, it would seem to be a true “no brainer” that the use of hard drives and other modern digital storage devices would have fully eliminated the outdated technology of the tape long ago. But, alas, this is not the case.

Why is this so? Well, for one, some people actually think that tape backup is safer and more secure than the more modern methods of using hard drives, but this is simply not the case at all, with cloud-based backup technology being far more reliable than that of the obsolete digital tape. One reason people might be under this incorrect assumption is the fact that almost all computer users have had a hard drive fail at least once in their lives (this is, of course, the whole reason we back up our data in the first place), and so they think that tape backup is somehow less likely to fail.

Why Are People Still Using Tape to Backup?

However, while people access the hard drives on their computers constantly, the only time they usually test their backup tapes is in the case of a data loss catastrophe, which is usually a relatively rare occurrence, so they almost never check the tapes to see if the data is corrupted. In addition to this, the fact that cloud backup allows for your data to be transferred to another physical location automatically means that your data is protected from the big disasters as well, like earthquakes and fires, which tape backup cannot guarantee at all.

Others might tell you that they think that tape backup is less complicated and easier to use than off-site cloud backup. They probably feel this way because tape backup is an older technology than cloud backup and so, sadly, this antiquated method is what they are used to using, with the ease of use and efficiency of cloud based backup simply being unknown to them. However, objectively evaluated, the use of tape backup systems is a much more cumbersome process, requiring the dedication of far more time and energy, with the risk of data loss always just around the corner unless you stick diligently to your schedule and constantly monitor your backup systems.

Cloud backup, on the other hand, can be almost entirely automatic if you want it to be, ensuring that your backed up files are always as up-to-date as possible, often times even allowing for open and unsaved files to be backed up as they are worked on. Furthermore, in the event that you need to retrieve any lost data, cloud-based systems allow you to search through your backed up files to find and restore the most important ones first, rendering the idea of tape backup being easier to use even more absurd.

Finally, others still somehow believe that tape backup is more cost effective. This is extremely hard to believe, primarily due to the inefficiency of tape backup users having to own, maintain and oversee the operations of all their own backup equipment. Indeed, it is far more financially efficient to outsource the data backup operations of any given company to another specialized party, who have the resources and expertise to perform backups as efficiently and cheaply as possible, effectively passing this savings on to the cloud backup user. In addition to this, those who take advantage of cloud-based backup also end up saving their company time, which is, as everyone knows, money, leaving their IT guys with more time to worry about other important aspects of their business. And, with many cloud backup companies having customer service available around the clock, as well as providing a “pay-as-you-go”-style utility model, their company only has to invest in more storage or features as it needs them, saving more money by avoiding high priced investment in purchasing their own backup systems.

So, there you have it, just some of the reasons why cloud-based backup systems are the most intelligent choice for any business. Indeed, with cloud backup being far more reliable, cost effective and easy to use than tape backup systems, the choice between the two should be an easy one to make for any wise business owner.

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Bush fires, floods, severe storms, earthquakes, landslides—Australia experiences them all. Theses disasters are so frequent that they have become part of regular life for many Australian citizens. With this level of instability, business continuity and disaster planning is a must!

Digital disasters caused by these natural events cost Australian businesses millions of dollars each year in equipment, property and most importantly, data loss. According to the Institute for Business & Home Safety in Tampa, Florida, 40% of businesses that lose a significant amount of data close within 5 years. This can be avoided.

To be better prepared, disaster recovery planners use preventive, exploratory and reactive plans to reduce or eliminate threats to business infrastructure.

Preventive planning puts in place fault tolerance systems to automatically handle the most rudimentary types of errors so that the system will be able to handle the error and continue to operate as normal.

Exploratory planning tests the system in order to discover more in depth problems before they occur so that a preventative plan can be put into place.

Executing on a reactive plan is what all IT staff work hard to avoid because it’s an intense exercise put into place to restore a system when disaster strikes. Testing reactive plans early and often will ensure a plan’s success in a true disaster situation.

Remote offsite backup providers, such as Corporate Backup of Australia, use ROBOBAK as an integral part of a business’ disaster recovery plan by seamlessly and securely storing data offsite, out of harm’s way. These machines are protected if disaster strikes. Are you?

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The world is not the only thing that is expected to end in the year 2012, so are IPv4 based Internet addresses.

Researchers are struggling to prepare themselves for the transition and deployment of the next generation of Internet based addresses before the demand for Internet ready devices exceeds the limited quantity of IPv4 addresses that still exist.

All telecom and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be required to be IPv6 compliant by Dec 31, 2011 with government agencies having a deadline of March 2012. IPv6 standards are being dictated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) USGv6 Test Program.

IPV6 - Implications for Backup and Storage

The transition towards IPv6 will not happen overnight and when the World Wide Web does run out of IPv4 addresses, millions of devices that only support the IPv4 protocol will still exist. With this being said, IPv6 enabled dedicated and Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are designed with native tunneling and dual stack gateway services that they can be used simultaneously to support both the IPv6 and IPv4 protocols.

IPv6 is also Mobile Multicast enabled and supports high performance networks such as Gigabit, OC-12, and ATM. To utilize the IPv6 protocol, your operating system and hardware must first be IPV6 aware. This will require worldwide system upgrades.

What questions do Managed Service Providers (MSPs) providing offsite backup services need to ask?

– Is your current backup solution fully IPv6 compliant? (Remote server and backup agents)
– Is your current network fully IPv6 compliant?
– Is your hardware fully IPv6 compliant?
– What software and hardware configurations will be required to enable IPv6?

ROBOBAK, a complete cloud based data protection solution for the Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO) backup, is fully IPv6 compliant. ROBOBAK V11 also offers full support for agent based/agentless backup & restore of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, and Microsoft Exchange 2010 on both the 32-bit and 64-bit architecture.

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ROBOBAK Online Data Backup Expert Tips: Agentless Backup Technology

The debate rages on. Which backup architecture makes the most sense, agentless or agent based. While there is much to be said for both technologies, we must consider the pros and cons of both.

Agentless architecture was designed with scalable manageability in mind. The architecture requires the install of only one backup agent on a selected machine and through one centrally managed console all networked machines can then be backed up. Communication is established using communication protocols such as FTP, CIFS/SMB, Telnet or SSh.

In order to connect agentlessly to a networked machine, the proper administrative authentication is required. While agent based architectures can be authenticated with a local system account, agentless architecture requires that the target machine be setup with a username and password that is authenticated to accept network connections. Every backup is monitored, managed and routed through the centrally administered console.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) that offer agentless backup technologies are appealing to end customers because they usually have a very simple pricing model. These MSPs don’t typically charge a device, agent or bandwidth fee and instead determine your price based on the actual stored amount of data that resides in their cloud.

Agentless backup architecture also offers benefits to MSPs that want to launch their own private vaults. One of the most important benefits of this architecture is a simplified licensing model. Take ROBOBAK, an agentless based backup solution, licensing model as an example. ROBOBAK’s licensing model is based on a compressed / de-duplicated storage limit. Meaning, with ROBOBAK, a client could backup any number of machines through one centrally administrated backup console on the network, without having to worry about additional licenses or permissions from the software vendor.

Agentless architecture supports almost all operating systems, databases and email formats that are in use today. Features such as hot database backup, mailbox level restore, and open file backup can be set up to run continuously or as a predefined schedule. All backups using ROBOBAK are based on THIN incremental or differential technology and allow the user to keep both local and remote copies of their data.

Some of the benefits of agentless backups include:

1. Centralized administration
2. Simple pricing and licensing models
3. Install the agent as many times as you wish (no limits or device fees)
4. Support for a large range of operating systems, databases and email formats
5. Local and remote backup capabilities

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Near ubiquitous connectivity has expanded the digital universe at a major cost to the environment. Huge amounts of money are being invested in data centers and these server farms are driving up the demand for energy and other resources. Yet, some experts estimate that only about 70% of the data stored by enterprises in the cloud is ever accessed!

It is estimated that the average utilization rate for a networked server is between 5-15 percent and between 20-40 percent for a non-networked servers. In brief, many companies are paying high-energy costs while only utilizing a fraction of their capacity.

Going Green with Block Level, Global De-duplication

Today’s green IT initiatives are pushing the technology industry for change. Block level de-duplication is an efficient method of minimizing the impact of data storage on the environment. The basic concept of block level de-duplication is that it reduces the amount of redundant data that is being stored. Storage requirements for multiple copies and variations of a file are significantly reduced by a process that discovers and logs exact duplicates across files and only stores the block once on disk. Files are then reconstructed by the backup system at restore time. Block level de-duplication can reduce network storage and bandwidth usage by up to 30% by achieving a 3:1 native data to compression/de-duplication ratio.

Operational costs of storage are high. As a result, these costs are a prime candidate for green computing optimizations. Different storage platforms have different attributes and these attributes impact performance, security and power utilization. Take for example tape libraries. These appliances are expensive to operate and require that tapes be physically moved and stored offsite in a climate controlled archive center. This is both costly to your budget and to the environment.

Inline block level de-duplication is a pre-process de-duplication technology that reduces data size before it is sent over the wire into storage. Minimal disk space, lower power consumption, and less cooling requirements, ensure that block level de-duplication adheres to green computing initiatives. Disk based de-duplication eliminates the need for tape usage and offers benefits such as reduced transportation costs, data security, better recovery time objectives (RTO), and improved recovery point objectives (RPO).

ROBOBAK is a complete “green” cloud based data protection solution for the Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO) backup. ROBOBAK is designed to empower MSPs, VARs, and corporations to create public or private cloud based backup solutions.

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Let’s face it, no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes because it’s just human nature. This also holds true for data backup because no matter what processes you have in place, things will go wrong. This includes forgetting to run a critical backup, mistakenly losing a tape or DVD or simply not monitoring backups at all.

Human error can be eliminated all together by using the correct offsite backup solution because your data protection would happen automatically without human touch. You would never have to be worried again about forgetting to run a backup, physically moving a tape offsite or purchasing and maintaining expensive hardware and software.

Taking Human Error Out of Backup for Small Business

Other benefits of cloud based offsite backup include protecting you and your organization against disgruntled employees by keeping your data encrypted, improving cash flow by paying monthly for the space you use and the cost savings of eliminating the need for an expensive IT agent.

Let’s face it, you as a small business owner already wear enough different hats and worrying about your data is the last thing you should be focused on. You need an all in one, set it and forget it, cloud backup solution that provides automatic schedules, encryption, compression, and deduplication. ROBOBAK is this solution. Let a professional Managed Service Provider (MSP) running the ROBOBAK solution alleviate this headache by providing you the reporting, security and peace of mind that your data needs. As Edward Murphy would say: “If anything can go wrong, it will”.

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Those dreaming the dream of unlimited online storage forever and ever just got a rude wakeup call.

A Gartner analyst says companies offering unlimited online storage are “already doing things like bandwidth throttling to help control the volume of data being stored and limiting the types of files you can backup,” according to a Computerworld article. And a major provider of online backup services says it will no longer offer unlimited plans, moving to a tiered pricing plan. That, according to PCworld.com, “destroys” the “dreams of essentially infinite online storage.”

The downfall of the great unlimited cloud storage era is good news for local and non venture capital backed managed service providers (MSPs), for whom unlimited online storage had become a competitive nightmare.

Is Unlimited Online Storage Going the Way of the DODO Bird?

MSPs lost business to these companies or, at the very least, were only able to act as resellers for them. The costs of building out a managed online storage infrastructure were prohibitive under the unlimited storage scenario, especially when all the big companies were offering the same services at a fraction of what MSPs could sell it for without losing their shirts in the process.

But now, if the major name vendors are moving to tier-based pricing models, that makes it possible for local MSPs to compete for the backup business. And the local guys have an advantage in going for the business that the big guys can’t possibly hope to match: the local guys already know their community and know their customer base, and can deliver a far more personalized level of service that meets their customers’ individual needs. All of this, while providing them with software that solves their challenges and of course enables them to make a solid profit as well.

At ROBOBAK, we have excellent relationships with a number of MSPs throughout North America and beyond, and it’s obviously in our best interest for these MSPs to succeed. MSPs who have deployed ROBOBAK to their customers are able to deliver a full range of benefits, such as cloud based live Exchange and SQL data protection, agentless backup and restore and deduplication. Plus, unlike some of the bigger venture capital backed MSPs, local MSPs are able to tell their customers, “here’s where your data is being stored, and here’s who’s storing it.” Don’t underestimate that last point; trust builds relationship and provides peace of mind.

To be fair, several online backup companies still offer cheap, unlimited, flat rate cloud based storage, but the real question remains, for how much longer? ROBOBAK is pleased to say that tier-based pricing is where our channel partners have been all along.

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You’re probably wondering what to look for if you’re a small or medium-sized business looking to make the switch to an offsite cloud backup model. To determine if cloud backup is the right solution for your small business, consider these five points before making the move to a offsite cloud service provider (SP):

Benefits versus cost
Cost plays a big part in most decisions and cost will come up when you are considering moving your backups to the cloud. To start the process, I would suggest choosing three service providers (SP) that you feel comfortable with and performing an analysis of their costs compared to their benefits. Factors that should come into consideration are, length of time the SP has been in business, does the SP offer a no-obligation trial, does the SP have any hardware/security accreditation and most importantly does the SP keep at least two copies of your data in two different locations?

Redundancy
Redundancy, which is now practically standard at this point, is also a very important requirement. Backend redundancy gives you an extra layer of protection by keeping at least two copies of your data in two different physical locations operated by the service provider (SP). This protects your data in case of the unlikely event that the SP’s data center experiences a catastrophic disaster such as natural disaster.

Bandwidth limitations
It is not a well known fact that many low cost service providers (SP) will limit their upload/download speeds making your backups/restores slower during peak backup times. Some SPs even go so far to limit the file size that you can upload! To avoid these restrictive SPs, I suggest reviewing the SPs Terms of Service, which is usually available on their web site, or posing them the question.

Data encryption
Data encryption is a requirement for anyone looking to utilize a cloud backup service provider (SP) because you will never want your data going over the internet without being encrypted. Without encryption your sensitive data could be read as if it was in plain text! The majority of SPs use standard encryption algorithms. With this being said there are still two important questions that need to be asked. The first question to ask is if your data is encrypted BEFORE going over the internet and does your data rest encrypted in the cloud. Both questions are important to ask as they will guarantee your data’s security.

Local backup copies
Most offsite backup providers allow you to keep any number of backup generations in the cloud that you wish, as long as you pay for them, but what about local backup copies? Local backup copies are useful for fast restores and as a second protection point. Ask your service provider of choice if local backups are offered and at what price.

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For 20 plus years, many businesses have been backing up their data to tape. Tape backup was the most efficient method of backup of its time and stayed this way until fairly recently. As time progressed, it became apparent that tape backups were becoming obsolete and that a better solution was needed. Disk based cloud backup solutions were the answer and eliminated the hurdles associated with traditional tape backups.

Why Choose Offsite Cloud Backup Over Traditional Tape Backup?

What were the problems associated with traditional tape backup?

The biggest and most time consuming job was managing the tapes after a backup was performed. This required either yourself or another employee at the company to spend valuable time, changing, storing and rotating the physical tapes at backup time and even trying to find the correct tape at restore time!. If a company had multiple locations, this job became even more cumbersome. To add more difficulty to the problem, tape backup users would also be faced with verifying the data on the tapes, physical tape corruption or damage (all tapes will eventually fail for a fact), running regular disaster recovery exercises and the element of human error. We didn’t even mention the cost associated with tapes, tape loaders and other expensive software and hardware required to run a tape based backup solution.

Advantages of disk based cloud backup

Offsite cloud backup has many advantages over traditional tape backups including cost savings, reliability and speed. Remote offsite cloud backup centers running ROBOBAK provide today’s businesses a safe and reliable method to protect their mission critical data from the most common elements of data loss which include backup media expiration, human error, theft, and major natural disasters such as fires, floods, hurricanes etc… The ROBOBAK Offsite cloud based backup solution provides users with peace of mind knowing that their data is safe, encrypted and replicated allowing users to sleep better at night.

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As time progresses, more and more backup applications (including ROBOBAK) are becoming Volume Shadow Copy (VSS) aware. VSS is a technology developed by Microsoft that allows a backup application to safely backup locked and open files. VSS works by creating a snapshot of the entire drive and then provides this information to the backup application so that the application can utilize the snapshot.

Volume Shadow Copy is supported on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003/2008, Windows 7 and above. Both the backup application and software application must be VSS aware to utilize VSS to backup open and locked files. Legacy applications tend to NOT be VSS aware, forcing users to find other methods to backup those open and locked files. Other options to backup open and locked files include open file drivers and Pre/Post scripts to shut off/start an application before and after backup so that the data’s integrity is guaranteed.

Some VSS Limitations:

– Only supported on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7 and above.
– Only local disks are supported.
– Windows XP only allows one shadow volume to be created per drive at any one time.
– The software program that created the open or locked files needs to support VSS.
– The Microsoft Volume Shadow Service must be enabled in the O/S.
– The machine must have devices that are enabled and associated with the Volume Shadow Service.
– The system must have an NTFS partition that must exist on an internal drive, with at least 100MB of free space for the shadow copies.
– The drive that contains locked files must have free space available.
– VSS can fail if there is too much disk activity.

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