A New-Old Technology Disrupts Backup

How upset do you feel when you lose what you have been doing on your personal computer for the last couple of hours? The answer is really upset. Would it be possible to save absolutely everything that you have on your disks continuously and forever?

YES, Through CDP

For years, a technology that allows to protect from data loss due to overwriting, accidental deletions, virus and ransomware has been in place. But… it has only been available for critical applications of large corporations. This efficient and bold technology is known as CDP or Continuous Data Protection.

CDP copies all the information, every save, copy, delete on your disk and every transaction you make on your computer. Everything is copied at the precise moment when recording is requested. At a certain point in the path from the application to the storage device, CDP tools duplicate the information and safely send it to a different storage device, usually to a Cloud Storage Platform.

Elements of timing are added to the data or transaction to convert them into a journal entry of a timed registration system. This timed system is a sort of database that allows to recover any element exactly like it was at any given past moment. What we are in fact getting is a continuous “snapshot” that allows to rewind and fast forward transactions and files over any increment of time.

“Recovery Point Objective” (RPO) is technically defined as the smallest interval of time that can be recovered going backwards from the instant a failure occurred, and is specified in seconds, minutes, hours, or days. CDP enables an RPO of seconds, ensuring minimal information loss in case of failure or attack, as compared to traditional backup technologies whose RPO is the latest backup window, read hours, days or even weeks.

Besides, if properly implemented, this technology allows recovery in a very short period of time. The user will be able to recover a lost file, database or document very fast, in a matter of seconds or minutes. This short restauration time (Recovery Time Objective) is much lower that with most other existing technologies using incremental/differential approaches.

The described features offer a high guarantee of recovering lost work, but also a high “resilience” when facing evolved virus or ransomware attacks, since it is possible to roll back the data to the exact moment immediately before the attack occurred.

Small Businesses and Individuals Uncared for

A decade ago, several companies proposed brilliant solutions to the pending backup issues for critical corporate applications, based on CDP technology. Some of them continue to offer successful solutions to the corporate market segment. Other companies have been acquired by large software vendors, having become part of larger and broader solution offers, many times tied to a specific application or transaction monitoring platform.

At that time, data storage was highly expensive for individuals and SOHOs, even if kept at Data Centers or Hosting providers. Internet connections were slow for the speed required by CDP and could only achieved using high-cost dedicated lines. Personal computers did not have the power to handle the duplication process while users were working on their computers, as high-end servers were. Individual users and SOHOs have been therefore excluded from using CDP technology for backing up their information.

Today, CDP Is for All

Traditionally, IT strategists have stated that consumers and small business could live with RPOs of several days or weeks of lost work. But really, no one of us would readily admit losing part of the work done, and this risk is only acceptable because there were no viable and affordable alternatives.

Internet connections are today extremely fast, reaching speeds approaching the order of magnitude of hard drives. The CPUs of our personal computers have become so powerful that even in extreme cases will remain idle most of the time. Cloud computing and cloud storage have brought economies of scale that before were available only to large corporations. That’s why some IT professionals are starting to claim that individual users and small businesses deserve the same respect for their work as the employees and systems of big corporations, so that it should be protected at the same level.

The technology of Continuous Data Protection, together with high speed Internet connections and a greatly reduced storage cost make available to everyone a guarantee of recovering data only affordable by large corporations up to now.

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