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Backup Terms

Archive Bit
The archive bit is an attribute associated with each individual file on your computer. The bit is set to a “0” or “1” depending on its’ last backup state – this allows tape backup software to recognize whether it should include the file in a differential or incremental file backup job. When a file is changed (write / save operation), the archive bit is set to a “changed” status, notifying the backup application that it should backup the file.

The process of taking your active data that you read and write every day and making a copy on another physical media object. Common backup media is USB flash drives, tape drives, RW DVD or CDs, portable hard disk or cloud backup providers. Backup performed are termed Full, Differential and Incremental.

Backup Restore
A backup restore procedure consists of replacing lost or damaged data to new or repaired disk storage media. It will require the same application that was used to create the backup to restore the data since tape backup applications typically are proprietary in disk storage format, compression methods and tape identification methods. To perform a full restore, you must first restore you most recent full backup; once you have successfully restored the full backup, you must then restore either the last differential backup (contains all files since the last full backup) or all of the incremental backups from the last full backup (since each incremental backup only contains the files changed since the last incremental backup).

Backup Software
A local application that allows a file set to be created of all the files you wish to back up and allows you to specify a data destination for the file set. A key feature of the backup application is its’ ability to set the archive bit on each individual file it backs up.

Differential Backup
A differential backup consists of backing up data which has changed since the last full backup; differentials are typically done on a daily basis following a full backup and grow in size each day, since each day more files are updated since the last full backup. A differential backup does not reset the archive bit so it will back up all files that have changed since the last time the backup application ran and reset the archive bit.

Full Backup
A full backup consists of backing up all data regardless of the archive bit status; this includes the whole data set even though much of it may not have changed since the last full backup procedure. Full backup sets are typically created once per week, usually on the weekend when data is typically not in use and the business week has ended. A full backup resets the archive bit to show that the file was successfully backed up by the backup application.

Incremental Backup
An incremental backup consists of backing up data that has changed since the last backup – it backs up all files that have a archive bit as changed but it resets the archive bit following backup. The main difference from the differential backup is that the incremental backup only backs up changes from the last incremental backup, NOT the last full backup.

Network Attached Storage systems are simply hosts that are connected to the network for the specific purpose of data storage. They are pretty inexpensive and are streamlined to serve data to your network PCs with neat technology to snapshot your data on demand allowing you to keep multiple copies of your data files on line at once and recover easily if needed. A typical NAS installation would include a local backup device attached to the NAS to make copies of your data to store off site.

Off Site Storage
A backup set of data is only good if it is available in the event of data loss. A common practice is to store your full backup sets at a facility which is a different physical structure than where the data is actually used. If your operations building is unavailable for any number of reasons, the backup media is still available and can be restored at a temporary facility allowing your business to continue. Fires, contamination and other emergencies can easily result in your office or operations facility being unavailable and all disaster plans should have a contingency plan in place.

Storage Attached Network systems are network connected storage devices that can be mounted on network servers and appear as local disk drives on the server. SAN disks allow for data growth where the server installed application requires the storage disk to be accessible by local drive letters.

Tape Rotation
Backup media typically should not be reused each day. A systematic rotation of data protects you from accidental changes you may make to your data that require significant rework to recover from. To prevent rework such as this, a backup schedule is usually implemented.

A good backup schedule would involve a full backup each week (preferably the end of the business week) and either incremental or differential sets daily. The full backup would be moved off site when it is complete and remain off site for 5 weeks. The 5th weekly backup would be tagged as a monthly backup and would be saved off site; every 5th week you would tag the full backup and tag it as a monthly until 13 monthly backups exist. The weekly full backup media sets can be returned to the operations site after the 5 week rotation and reused as needed. While this will use more tapes or media sets, it will allow you to “point” restore data from the end of any of the last 5 business weeks and from any of the last 13 months. The 13th monthly tape set is often held as a yearly and would typically coincide with the last tape set of the business calendar year.

Universal Naming Convention is the name format used to address Microsoft Windows based network shares for file or printer access. The format of a UNC name is \\servername\share.