Here Is How To Selectively Backup Your Data

Backing up just the most important parts of your data can you save you lots of time and storage space. Try these tips to do so efficiently.

7 Min Read
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Alexander Supertramp

When it comes to data backup, a business can’t always back up all its information. Sure, if a company is willing to spend a lot of money on its backup solution, then theoretically, they can back up as much data as they can create. However, in a realistic world, cost-effectiveness dictates that a business should limit the amount of data it saves on backup servers. To this end, a lot of enterprises have implemented selective backup methodologies for their data.

The Balance SMB mentions that a business’s continuity depends on its backup integrity. Because of this, companies need to be discerning about how they select the data for backup. Since there’s limited space available, the enterprise must have some rules defined to carry out its selective backup protocols. In this article, we’ll look at some of these particular data backup protocols in detail.

Before The Backups Start

A prerequisite to enable backups on a VMware or Hyper-V server is the server configuration. Before the IT department can create any backups, they should verify server connection and ensure that all authentications are green. Additionally, any software that is being used for the backups should be installed and configured to run on the system. This step is necessary before deciding on a paradigm for your selective backup. Once a company has done that, they can proceed to the selection processes.

Selective Inclusion

Selective inclusion is the most common method for choosing which files get added to the backup queue. This backup method is the closest to how humans think when it comes to the selection of sets. It’s unlikely that a manual selection would include something that the business doesn’t need in its backup. The granularity of control that the operator has, in this case, is unmatched. Unfortunately, this method depends on the individual to execute and can be time-consuming. Each new virtual machine or physical device added to the system requires IT personnel to fill out their backup table manually. If a new file is distributed and needs to be added to the backup schedule, this can also take time.

Selective Exclusion

The best way to think of this method would be like asking the backup server to backup “everything except” what the list says. Selective exclusion systems use rules that may define paths or extensions that the business deems as extraneous to its needs. These exclusions might add any folder named “Temp” or other temporary files noticeable because of their *.tmp extensions. Selective exclusion is only useful when you already have a system that deals with backing up the entire file system, which brings us to our next methodology.

Automatic Inclusion

This methodology takes into account every file on every machine (both virtual and physical) added to the backup schedule. Automatic inclusion will be an ideal solution for a business if it has unlimited storage space and bandwidth on its backups. The methodology may even work for companies with only a little bit of data to back up. However, in most cases, automatic inclusion is simply a starting point. Using selective exclusion, as mentioned above, allows a business to select which files and extensions the backups system can safely ignore. Automatic inclusion is a broad-brush solution that’s only useful by itself in some edge-cases.

Tag-Based Inclusion

Tags are useful utilities in any software environment. The same is true of backup since tags can help the system know which files are deemed essential. The shorthand for tagging is using the hashtag (#) symbol to define those tags beforehand. So, for example, a business can tag their relevant databases as #essential, while their test databases can get the #test tag. When the backup system is selecting tags for backup, it’ll choose anything that’s tagged as #essential, ensuring that the business never wasted storage space on backing up test data.

Default Inclusion

As Black Fin Marketing notes, some clients have data that they want to ensure gets backed up, even if no other rules apply to it. Default inclusion is the solution that works best in this situation. If a file or folder isn’t already included or excluded according to the backup schedule’s rules, it’s automatically added to the files and folders to back up. While this may bring about cases where one or more extraneous folders or files end up being backed up inadvertently, it’s a calculated risk. A business can’t restore data that is doesn’t have a backup for.

Backing Up Data is Essential

Small Business Trends noted that in 2017, more than half of small businesses in America were woefully underprepared to deal with catastrophic data loss. Since then, with the rise of viruses and ransomware, many companies have taken a more proactive approach to data backups. These filtering methods for limiting the size of a backup (and, by extension, the amount of time it takes to create and restore that backup) can help a business be more efficient in saving its data. Many companies have opted to implement cloud-based backup solutions as more of them start using the cloud for their data storage and recovery. Whether we’ll see more businesses adopting this methodology in the future remains to be seen.

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