The Importance of backups

Data backup is one of the most important aspects of IT but is often overlooked.

By exploring insights about backup mechanisms and the risks associated with a nonexistent or inadequate backup strategy, we’ll discover more about backups specific to the PaperTrail application and the hosted cloud environment.

What is a backup

A backup is a duplicate set of selected data, generally made to alleviate the risk associated with the original set becoming lost or damaged. With many organisations relying heavily on the quality and availability of data, a strong emphasis should be placed on safeguarding this data. A sound backup strategy helps organisations protect their investment in this data.

Data is always at risk of being irrecoverable. Through physical hardware failure, natural disasters, ransomware, malicious attacks via security breaches on a data storage environment and even data corruption or deletion through negligence, data needs to be safeguarded as best it can be.

Backup Strategies

When it comes to employing a backup strategy, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. While some fundamental best practices are common, there is also a degree of customisation needed based on an organisation’s specific requirements.

So how can you make sure that your data is safe? A basic strategy is to ensure that your backup copies are kept off-site from your primary data store. This can be in the form of an offsite storage company specialising in this or data being shipped to an organisation’s disaster recovery (DR) site. This negates the risk of your backup set being destroyed along with the primary dataset in the event of a physical location-based disaster, such as a fire.

More specific needs can be tailored around the method and frequency of backups. Backup categories are generally split into full, differential and incremental. Virtualised environments typically also offer snapshot backups which preserve the state of an environment, and can be rolled back to at a later stage.

The frequency of backups also depends on the specific requirements surrounding data availability and reliability. For example, having full site-to-site (or application-to-application) replication will reduce the lead time to getting an organisation’s DR site online; however, this also means that any data corruption or captured inaccuracies are also replicated.

It’s important to note that a daily point-in-time backup will provide the organisation with the ability to roll-back to previous days’ backups. While this gives you a base to recover data before it had been corrupted, a restore to the previous day’s backup will see you lose any changes that were made to the data since the backup was taken.

PaperTrail-specific backups

PaperTrail’s document management system is essentially backed by a database which stores the users, permissions, node structure, document properties, and so on, and a file repository which houses the actual files on disk.

In both the database and file repository structures, point-in-time or replication is an option at the database and/or file system level.

The PaperTrail application has the built-in ability to write to multiple file stores. This means that you can write a copy of the documents on disk locally as well as to another PaperTrail instance or directly to Amazon’s S3 cloud environment. PaperTrail also has the ability to automatically create a database backup daily in the file repository, and you have the ability to restore an entire instance of PaperTrail, including the database and file repository.

In addition to this, PaperTrail caters for real-time replication via an integrated replication feature. This requires two licensed instances of PaperTrail to be online, with replication setup as the first step. Thereafter, any changes made to either environment are replicated to the sibling environment. Each environment maintains its own isolated database, with sequential unique identifiers for tables being written to both.

In on-premise deployments, the responsibility for implementing these practices lies with the client. The Egis support team are available to assist with the application-specific configuration, while database and file system backups remain the client’s responsibility.

PaperTrail also has version control measures built into the document management system, with each iteration of a document being stored. This makes rolling back a specific document, in the event of inaccurate data being captured, simple and easy to do.

How PaperTrail Cloud protects your data

The PaperTrail Cloud hosting option sees a client’s PaperTrail environment fully managed by the Egis team. This includes the operating system, database and application, and also extends to the network and firewalling infrastructure.

In addition, PaperTrail Cloud instances are configured by default to backup the database on a daily basis. Each environment is integrated with its own unique bucket on Amazon’s S3 cloud environment, protected with encryption and configured with WORM (Write once, Read many) technology. This ensures that data can be recovered in the event of a crisis.

All environments are hosted as HTTPS secure sites, backed by a SHA256 signature hash algorithm certificate.

Access to the back-end operating systems are controlled by certificate-based logins and restricted to specific source IP ranges, ensuring that only authorised personnel from authorised locations are allowed to access these environments.

PaperTrail offers users a secure, easy-to-use portal to backup, store and utilise data.

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Tel: 011 880 4411

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