File and Object Backup

File and object backup solutions offer data protection for two different unstructured data types: object storage and file systems. First, object storage is a computer data storage architecture that manages data as objects, unlike file systems that contain data in a file hierarchy.

File and object backup definition

File and object backup solutions offer data protection for two different unstructured data types: object storage and file systems. First, object storage is a computer data storage architecture that manages data as objects, unlike file systems that contain data in a file hierarchy. Object storage can handle a broad set of data types and massive data volumes. Azure Blob Storage is an object storage solution from Microsoft Azure.

The blob in Azure Blob is a binary, large object storage option to store any data in a binary format. Unlike object storage, file systems handle files in a hierarchical manner and store data on a storage medium like a disk drive. File data can also reside on servers in their file systems. Microsoft Windows, Linux, and UNIX-based computer systems can be used to store files or object data. File System data can also be stored in cloud solutions like Azure Files, which are fully managed file shares in the cloud that are accessible through industry standard Server Message Block (SMB) protocol or Network File System (NFS) protocol.

File and object backup describes the process of creating a copy of file or object storage data that is then sent to a backup target storage location – in the cloud or on-premises — so that the backup data copy may be used to restore or recover that data in the event of data loss.

What is file and object backup?

File and object backup is a solution that protects files stored in file systems, including from Microsoft Windows or Linux servers, or data stored as objects by creating a copy of the data and sending it to a secondary storage target location. Users can then access the copy data should the need arise to recover the data.

The easiest way to describe object storage is to view it as data with a unique identifier and unlimited amounts of metadata. The identifier called a universally unique identifier (UUID) is assigned to the data in the object storage. Object storage generally accommodates storage or data as objects, such as unstructured data, including files, emails, images, audiovisual recordings, and more. In addition to the UUIDs, object storage also contains metadata or data that provides details about other data. The metadata is information that identifies the added material and could range from elaborate descriptions to the file name, the owner, the creation date of the data, source, or other detail.

Unlike object storage, file storage uses a simple file structure. The file storage uses a hierarchical approach to organize data in files arranged in folders that are placed into directories and subdirectories. Most users are familiar with the structure of file storage, and IT admins appreciate its user-friendly interface that does not require building custom APIs. In general, file storage is best for enterprises with a user base that requires a hierarchial structure to storing data. For example, if your company uses many well-defined data sets, such as departmental shares, then file storage may be the right solution for you.

A robust file and object backup solution is a powerful application that supports backing up and protecting a broad range of data stored in on-premises or cloud based file systems and in cloud object storage solutions alike. Combining both types of storage resources extends the backup solution’s reach to several data formats, including unstructured data, images, audio, and video. A file and object backup solution must support different operating systems like Windows, Linux, and UNIX. With file and object backup, customers can typically bring all their data, regardless of its composition, under a straightforward solution. Object storage backup solutions are very well suited for cloud backup as object storage can handle cloud-scale data sizes without requiring prearrangement of data sets, and copies are stored in the cloud for greater efficiency. Large on-premises data sets stored on site can be protected and stored on site for quicker recovery. Regardless of where the data is stored, a solution that can protect the data where it lives is essential to backup efficiency and faster recovery.

What is the file and object backup process, and how does it work?

A file and object backup solution needs to offer protection for all data types stored on file systems and object storage.

The main stages of the process include:

  • Adopt a clear backup strategy that defines the data sets that will be protected, as well as the frequency of backups
  • Identify the sources of data that will be protected as part of the planned backup
  • Enter the backup parameters as detailed in your disaster recovery plans and backup policies
  • Designate the destination for each set of the data sets if more than one is required. It is prudent to maintain two different and separate copies of backup; one on-premises for rapid recovers, and the other in the cloud for better air-gapped protection against potential data loss
  • Execute the backup or schedule it as specified in your IT procedures or schedule it for an automated execution at a more suitable time

An air-gapped system or computer is one that is physically isolated from other networks and systems, including the internet. This isolation is achieved by disconnecting the system or computer from any external connections, such as ethernet cables or Wi-Fi, and by disabling any wireless or Bluetooth connectivity.

The purpose of an air-gapped system or computer is to provide an extra layer of security and prevent unauthorized access or data exfiltration. This makes air-gapped systems particularly useful in situations where sensitive or confidential data is being handled, such as in military operations, financial institutions, and research labs.

However, air-gapped systems can be difficult to maintain and manage, as they require physical access to transfer data to and from the system. This can make it challenging to keep the system up to date with software patches and updates, and to back up data on a regular basis.

In addition, while air gapping can provide a high degree of security, it is not foolproof. Cyber attackers have developed creative methods for breaching air-gapped systems, such as using malware on removable storage devices or exploiting vulnerabilities in the firmware of the system.

As such, it is important to use other security measures in conjunction with air gapping, such as strong access controls, encryption, and continuous monitoring of system activity, to ensure the security of sensitive or confidential data.

Why is file and object backup important?

The amount of data created daily is staggering, and all of it should be stored and protected against loss. By 2025, it is estimated that 463 exabytes of data will be created each day. As data is growing, so are bad actors in their efforts, as ransomware continues to quickly trend in the wrong direction. Combined with a larger attack surface – this introduces more risk to the business and the data.

Users expect to have the data they need accessible and available around the clock. With file and object backup, customers can store and backup their different data types and protect them with one solution. With a file and object backup solution that supports cloud storage as a target, customers can then rely on cloud scalability that accommodates their business needs as their data continues to grow. Object storage can accommodate almost unlimited amounts of diverse structured and unstructured data that your company will accumulate over time.

On the other hand, file systems storage is ready to host your unstructured data files and give you a solution that is fast to access and easy to manage and administer. It is inevitable to experience some data loss and application failure due to scheduled and unscheduled disruptions. Without file and object backup, many businesses would suffer and lose vital data due to extended disruptions and disaster recovery times. In short, a well executed file and object backup strategy can keep the engines of your business running and bring them back to life faster after outages.

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Benefits of file and object backup

Digital data and applications are the drivers of business growth. Protecting business-critical workloads and their associated data is vital for business survival. Data protection provides a safety net against data loss or corruption. File and object backup solutions should offer the broadest protection for data stored in the cloud or on-premises, and the right solution will provide many benefits, including:

  • Ultimate flexibility. Solutions that offer support for data stored in the cloud or on-premises should allow companies of different sizes to take advantage of the options to protect the data regardless of where it is located, and storage target flexibility on-premises or in the cloud. Object backup supports cloud-scale capacity and can adapt to your business requirements, while file storage can give you a familiar hierarchical file structure that is easy to use with fast access.

  • Fast recovery with granular restore. Data recovery of the exact file or folder can be a critical time-saving benefit of file and object backup solutions—no need to recover an entire directory structure just to restore one file. Search for exactly what is needed and recover it quickly.

  • Data protection and compliance. Protect data in flight and at rest with pervasive encryption while keeping away unauthorized parties with strong access protection using role-based authentication controls for advanced security. Maintain regulatory compliance of your data with the wide range of supported global, regional, and industry standards on Microsoft Azure, including HIPAA, GDPR, SOC2, and ISO 27001.

  • Cost-optimized operations. Protect existing investments with file and object backup solutions that extend your storage resources to the cloud. This approach can free IT, and financial resources tied up in on-premises infrastructure and shift upfront CAPEX to budget-friendly operating expenses.

Common use cases for file and object backup

Organizations of all sizes need file and object backup for these everyday use cases:

  • Business continuity. With file and object backup, businesses can protect all their data and bring business back to life following unpredictable disruptions. The solution offers granular recovery and point in time restore capability. Object storage can accommodate the largest of your data sets and unstructured data that remain available for use in the event of a disruptive incident.

  • Data protection. Without proper protection, your data remains susceptible to potential loss and corruption. File and object backup solution can help preserve your data integrity and provide usable copies of lost or corrupted data. It also supports air-gapped copies for ransomware protection. It is worth noting that file storage can be the right choice for data that requires easy deployment and protection.

  • Disaster recovery. It is an unfortunate reality that businesses and IT environments will face unexpected events that could cause data loss, corruption, or disrupt IT operations. Using file and object backup helps a rapid recovery and return to normal with reduced risks due to unplanned disruptions. File and object storage backup solutions can help address all the needs of your data sets from simple structured files to massive unstructured data sets with diverse nature.

Does Metallic offer file and object backup?

Yes! Commvault® File and Object Backup solution can support a cost-optimized protection service for your data, including Microsoft Azure Blob, Azure Files, Windows Files System, and Linux File Systems. The solution offers comprehensive protection for your data from cloud-native to on-premises and can protect all your diverse environments with cloud storage target options. Customers can also bring their own storage if they need to leverage existing investments or on-premises backup targets for fast short-term recovery of on-premises data, thanks to our unique SaaS plus model.

In these cases, customers can still leverage Air Gap Protect as a simple secondary storage option. Metallic also offers additional solutions for customers’ hybrid cloud workloads with Database Backup, and VM & Kubernetes Backup, and solutions for endpoints and productivity applications in Endpoint Backup and Microsoft 365 Backup.

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