Data growth continues to expand at an explosive pace. More and more files are created every day. The files often get much larger over time as well. Compliance and other government mandates also require longer retention of past data which means backup data can grow even more.
Fortunately we have a lot of options when it comes to managing the size of offsite backups. This article will help you keep your backups to a reasonable size to ensure you are protecting your valuable data in the most cost effective way possible.
This information assumes you are using Asigra Cloud Backup, but it may also benefit you if using another capacity based backup system.
Not only will fixing ineffeciencies help lower your costs for offsite backup, but can also speed up the time it takes to make backups and reduce bandwidth usage!
Identify largest backup sets
Typically the largest backup sets are the backup sets that typically need the most attention from a space consumption standpoint. It does not do much good to focus our energy on small backup sets.
Run a backup set report from DS-Client (Reports menu, Backup Sets, Print or Print Preview) to determine which backup sets are consuming the most space.
Identify and make a list of the top backup sets based on “Stored Size” Column. Sometimes it’s one large backup set that, or the top 3. A client with 100 backup sets may have a larger number of top backup sets than a customer with 3 backup sets, but generally your top 20% of your backups will consume 80% of the total space (the good ole 80/20 rule!)
Review backup logs on the largest backup sets
So, how did the largest backup sets become the largest? Large backup sets can sometimes grow larger than expected, especially over time, because data is being backed up that is not needed. Examples could include (but not limited to):
- Large SQL or other database dumps
- Reorganizing file system data that is then detected as new backup data. For example, copying data from old directories to new directories.
- Daily backup of antivirus signature updates (and old updates never removed)
- Users copying large amounts of data to the network (family pictures, videos, backups of PC’s)
- Backups made onto the server be backed up – nothing like backing up backups!
A great way to detect unneeded data is to review the detailed backup logs and review the list of files being backed up. Perform the following:
- From the DS-Client, click Logs, Activity Logs
- Change the From field date to several months ago to see the past activity
- Change the Activity field to “Backup” to only see the backup activity
- Change the Node/Set to the largest backup set to see only that activity
- Click on Find to see all backups for that specific node
- Once you see the list of backups, click on the “Transferred Amount” column twice to put the largest transfers at the top of the list. The list will be listed in order of the largest backup transfers over a given period with the largest transfers listed a the top.
- Select the largest backup (based on transfer size) in the list – this should be listed at the very top. Take note of how much data got transferred, the length of the backup and how many files got backed up.
- With the largest backup selected, click on the “Detailed log” button.
- On the next screen, click on Find to see all of the files that got backed up in that session.
- Click on the Size column to put the largest files on top
- Review the path and filename that got backed up and verify this is data that needed to be backed up.
Notes: If there are no extra large backups over a given range of dates consider reviewing “average” backups and look for data that doesn’t need to be backed up.
Managecast is highly experienced in reviewing backups. You may always choose to engage Managecast to get assistance with these items as we perform these functions frequently and know what to look for. However, you know your data best, so your intimate knowledge of your environment can also be valuable in determining if you are backing up data efficiently.
Review all backup sets and ask yourself “Does all of this data REALLY need to be offsite?”
For instance, antivirus or other utility servers may be important, but replaceable and do not contain any unique data that needs to be protected offsite. By eliminating offsite backups of these types of backup sets you may be able to reduce the total offsite data.
Consider using “local-ONLY” backup sets for data that needs to be backed up, but not critical enough to justify the cost of off-site backups. However, this may impact your recovery time objective in a significant disaster so make sure you know the pros and cons!
Some other things to check:
- Are you backing up Anti-virus definitions/software? Does this data need to be offsite or can you use local-only backups?
- Are recycle bin and temp files/folders being backed up? They can probably be excluded.
- Consider excluding the “System Volume Information” folder at the root of each disk drive being backed up. This is unneeded data.
- Are you excluding certain file extensions such as *.tmp, *.bak, *.mp3, and other file extensions that may represent non-critical data?
- Check the retention rules:
- Do all of the backup sets have a retention policy assigned?
- Is a schedule set to run the retention?
- How are you handling removal of deleted files from the backups? Check the retention for handling of removing deleted files from backups.
Are you fully leveraging archive storage?
Asigra provides for 4 different storage tiers to allow you to align the value of your data with the cost to protect it. Archiving can dramatically lower cloud backup storage costs.
Operating system data and applications can be replaced, so by using local-only backup for this type of data you can lower your overall costs.
In addition, older, static, rarely used data can be archive to dramatically reduce costs. To learn more about archiving and the different backup storage tiers, click here.