Online Backup Tips for Popular Business Applications

Popular business applications by definition are used by many people. But whereas word-processing and spreadsheet applications may run on individual PCs, email and database applications often run on servers where many people can use the same software – all at the same time. This has an impact on online backup. For example, to back up user data should you ask all users to stop using the application for a while; or use a backup application that takes account of several users being active while data records are being saved? Looking for online services to back up this kind of server-based application therefore means checking for backup features over and above simple PC-style backup.

Everybody Needs the Backup Essentials
Lest we forget, there are certain things that an online backup service should offer for every kind of system, whether it’s handling just one or multiple simultaneous users. The online backup service needs to be speedy and secure, and should offer automatic scheduling. It must also offer easy, reliable restore facilities that let you recover your data fast. No amount of extra ‘bells and whistles’ for business application backup will be able to compensate for a service that doesn’t meet these fundamental levels of quality.
What Business Information do You Need to Back Up?
Business applications that are used simultaneously by many users often need more than just the user data to function correctly. Email servers may need user profile information, accounting or production applications may need precise database settings, or configuration files may be needed in order to reinstall the application on another machine. Without this additional information, simply restoring user data will be useless. The application won’t have enough information to start up again. When considering online backup services remember therefore to look for the ones that take this into account and that backup all of a database, including its system files.
How Much Data do You Have to Back Up?
Popular applications can create large amounts of data. Think of customer relationship management systems as an example, logging customer conversations daily and holding sales and technical documents ready for use. Online backup services made for backing up servers may offer different possibilities to deal more efficiently with growing mounds (or even mountains) of data. One is the deduplication of information. Files that are identical are not transferred twice. Another is data block transfer, in which the online backup application detects which parts of files have changed and uploads only those changed parts.
Managing Your Online Business Application Backup
In a business IT environment, different people may contribute to maintaining a server. The person who initializes an online backup routine may not be the same as the person present when it finishes. An online backup service that sends a clear report (web, email or SMS message) of which backup was done when can simplify the lives of IT administrators and provide a permanent record to be consulted by those authorized to do so. For several servers, centralized online backup management from one terminal can be even better.
Types of Business Application Supported
This will depend on the online backup service provider. Some offer backup and restore of e-mail boxes in Microsoft Exchange without interruption to operations, or backup to Oracle databases that run continuously. Other business software configurations supported may include Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft SQL Servers. Remember however that if you find an online provider supporting backup to the business application of interest to you, you should still test both backups and restores to make sure that you’ll be able to keep going with your backed-up data alone, if you have to.