Challenges When Backing Up Databases


Data protection for databases is one of the fastest-growing areas in the backup industry.

Given the drop in hardware costs, and the release of software packages like Microsoft’s SBS server suite, it’s now easier and less expensive than ever for any small company to set up their own in-house SharePoint, Exchange and SQL servers.

This is both a good thing and a bad thing.

As we’ve discussed in our previous videos, IT managers are currently struggling to ensure that their backups can keep up with pressing demands such as:

  • Exponential data growth
  • 24-7 business requirements
  • Regulatory compliance requirements

This is especially true of database servers. Not only is database data also growing exponentially, but these systems also read and write data more frequently, are more vulnerable to failure, and require adherence to stricter recovery point objectives.

And to make matters worse, this cheap easy access to database software and hardware means that more companies are implementing and managing complex database systems without the help of a trained on-staff database administrator.

With a traditional flat-file data recovery, a few days worth of lost work would be a minor inconvenience for the working staff. But a few days worth of lost database transactions could mean tens of thousands of dollars in lost purchase orders and invoices.

This is compounded by the fact that database backups – and especially recovery – can be highly complex.

Just because you know how to do something yourself, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. To see what I mean, let’s imagine a typical recovery scenario.

Let’s suppose that you wanted to recover a few files that had been accidentally deleted, and you’d been backing it up using a traditional methodology. You would simply open your backup storage – whether physical or in the cloud – and copy the desired files into a new folder.

This is easy because a data file is actually a physical entity on the hard drive.

But what if you had accidentally dropped a single table from an SQL database? This would be much more difficult, since a database table is a logical object. In other words, it may appear as a single entity to the database software, although it may actually be spread out across many locations on the hard drive.

And although most database systems allow an export of these logical elements as physical flat files for backup purposes, you may still run into linking problems in the event that the data contained within this backup no longer matches the current state of the database.

Instead, a typical approach would be to:

  • Set up another database
  • Load the last full backup
  • Load the last incremental backup
  • Load the log containing all transactions that have occurred since the last incremental backup
  • Export the table to a flat file
  • Import the new table file into the database

This is an elaborate process to obtain a small amount of data, with lots of opportunity for human error. This is especially true when we’re talking about assigning an additional complex backup process to an internal employee that lacks the proper training in this field.

Database backups are very tricky, and require expertise in both data backup and database administration. For this reason, we would strongly advise that businesses outsource both backup and the recovery of all of their databases to a company or consultant that specializes in this type of data protection.

If you’d prefer to automate your database backups, I’d encourage you to have a look at Storagepipe’s Fastback DR service. Although our Fastback DR is well-known for having some of the fastest bare-metal recovery speeds of any online backup service, it’s also has a sophisticated toolset when it comes to database protection.

When you rely on Storagepipe Fastback DR for your database backups, you remove any possibility of human error from your database backups. And if you ever need to recover, you can do so from multiple historical restore points, and with a high level of granularity.

Fastbacks’s database backup is also “application aware”, which means that it has built-in tools that are specifically designed for many of the most popular enterprise applications.

  • If backing up SQL, you can restore individual tables.
  • If backing up Exchange, you can restore mailboxes or individual items like emails or contacts.

Automating through Storagepipe means no more guesswork. Just point, click and you’re done.

In addition to SQL, Storagepipe also has experience in backing up other enterprise database solutions such as Oracle, DB2 and more.

For more information about backing up your databases, please visit for cloud backup and online backup today.

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