PC Backup – Six Must have Features

For any enterprise, the definition and amount of “critical data” on laptops and desktops is increasing. This is fueled by increasing security concerns, user mobility and cross-geography office expansions. While the expectations have increased, the existing backup solutions haven’t adapted well with these changes. They still continue to depend upon large computational resources and dedicated and trusted network/media for backups. The reason, I think, is that most of PC backup solutions have been molded out of old server archival products. In short, the key requirements for an enterprise PC backup should be –

  1. Simple and Automated
  2. Non-intrusive – Light weight and resource/power friendly
  3. Secure and Internet friendly
  4. WAN and bandwidth optimized
  5. Support for incremental backup for large files like Outlook PST
  6. On-demand restore points

Features Explained –

1. Simple and Automated

“Backing up your PC is one of those things, like eating right or changing your oil on time, that everybody knows they’re supposed to do, but too few people actually carry off well…” Walter Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal

Surprisingly most of the Notebook backup solutions still have calender schedules. IMO, this is prehistoric. The setup should be max 5 steps and schedules as simple as – “Run every 4 hours”.

2. Non-intrusive – Light weight and resource/power friendly

The primary reason employees hate backup is because of the system/network slowdowns caused by the backup which ticks in as soon as the user logs in. Laptops are replacing desktops in most of the enterprises, but the software still hasn’t evolved. Backups should be resource friendly and optimized low power consumption. Also, simple options like these can make a lot of difference

  • Don’t backup when i am on battery
  • Consume max 10% of my CPU
  • Consume max. 20% of my bandwidth

3. WAN and Bandwidth optimized

Every company has a reasonably good percentage of mobile workforce. And usually this includes the top-tier management (CEO, and likes). With increasing laptop thefts and data risks, backups should be WAN/Internet ready. The user should be able to choose a bandwidth (something like use 10% of my bandwidth) and the backup solution should just do the job, even over the weakest internet links. This also greatly helps in cross-office backups and backup consolidation efforts.

4. Secure and Internet friendly

Security is very important, specially when you are over WAN/VPN. Most of the backup solutions are Server triggered, making security policies for firewalls and monitoring very diffic ult (every one is afraid, when they see data flowing out of their network). The backups should be client triggered, so that the server side firewalls just allow and monitor inbound traffic. Also, the solution should be able to securely setup encrypted/authenticated channels to backup. (SSL channels are best, when it comes to WAN/Internet).

5. Support for incremental sync for large files like Outlook PST

With data increasing, and WAN coming into picture it is very important that the backups are incremental in nature and only the changed bits are copied back to the server.

6. On-demand restore (points)

Sending an email to admin to get the data back is surely complete NO, specially when the user may be off-site/traveling. The backup software should facilitate a smart (possibly browser) based remote and secure data restore. So next time you choose a backup software for your personal or enterprise needs, make sure it has evolved to have the above mentioned features. And remember – backup more, backup often.