Loss of data is a major concern for all businesses everywhere. It doesn’t matter what type of business it is or how big or small it is, if valuable data is lost it can set them back weeks or months and will cost them time and money. One solution to this problem is continuous data protection (CDP), also known as continuous backup. CDP works by automatically saving and capturing all versions of data that a user saves. It enables the user to restore data from a specific point in time.

This function of specific time restoration is what differentiates CDP from traditional backup systems. With a traditional backup you can only restore the data from the point at which the backup was taken. With CDP, the data is written to a disk and to a second location on another computer on the network.

You need to be careful when buying your CDP as some packages are marketed as continuous data protection but in fact only restore data at fixed intervals e.g. 1 hour ago or 24 hours ago. These types of solutions are often called “snapshot based”. At the moment there is some debate regarding the term “continuous” and whether or not the backup needs to be “every write” in order to be considered CDP or whether a solution that captures data every few seconds is acceptable. There is also some debate on whether or not the ability to restore from the backup also has to be continuous. The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) uses the “every write” definition.

CDP also differs from RAID replication and mirroring, as this technology only protects the most recent copy of the data. If corruption occurs it will protect the corrupt data. CDP, on the other hand, protects against the effects of the corruption by installing a previous, uncorrupted version of the data.

A last benefit of CDP is that is takes up less space that traditional backup systems. CDP solutions save byte or block level differences rather than file level differences. Therefore only the changed byte or block is backed up whereas in traditional back ups the entire file is copied.

If you want to save your business time and expense CDP solutions seem the logical choice as your data is automatically saved without you even having to think about it. It is also easy to restore. If, however, something goes wrong anyway and you find that your data seems irretrievably lost, its nice to know that you can always take your computer to a data recovery specialist and be secure in the knowledge that you are in safe hands.

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