This is a crucial question, frequently posed to an IT administrator. However, both online remote backup and replication have their importance and both are heroes that help deal with specific disasters. Therefore, it depends entirely upon the situation on hand, to decide the appropriate solution.
It is important to understand the clear line of distinction between the two options and what advantages/disadvantages they offer. Remote backup system is a remote-stationed server, which creates a backup of your files on regular intervals. Recovering from a remote backup system is commonly referred to as Disaster Recovery.
Replication allows data to be continuously copied on a secondary server from the primary server. In case some file(s) get corrupted on the primary server, they can still be retained from the secondary server and the business can be continued without any disruption. For this very reason, the process is termed as Business Continuity.
Two important factors that help decide between the backup and replication are:
- What do you wish to achieve?
- How much budget can you allocate for the recovery task?
Let’s try and understand these concepts through a few examples. Let’s say you have not been creating backups, however data was being replicated on a secondary server on a real-time basis. You are struck with a disaster, for instance, severe lightening fries up your central server. You’ll be doing fine, as you can still retain your files from the secondary server. Hence, business continuity is possible without any loss.
Here is a scenario of another pro-replication IT expert. Due to some technical glitches, some files get corrupted or deleted. The same files are mirrored on the secondary server. Business continuity is not possible in this case, as non-corrupted files cannot be recovered.
Now, consider the same case, with one difference. You have been making “Point to time backups” using an online remote backup system, instead of a real-time replication. Now, these backups will allow you to revert to the status when files were functioning properly. The remote backup system in this scenario, takes the cup.
Real-time replication has advantages in many scenarios. However, due to the lack of research in this area, implementation of replication in lieu of data recovery has been little justified. It is often observed that the real-time mirror of files is useless in many cases.
Replication, on the other hand, is demanding on resources. You need bandwidth to continuously mirror data on another server, while point-to-backups are usually created once or twice and primarily out of office hours. Moreover, replication also increases hardware costs, as you need a dedicated server for the task (this can be the same for a remote backup system as well). Another expense attached to the replication option is a dedicated site necessary for geographical separation. Some people prefer to keep the secondary server on the same site, however in the case of an onsite disaster, such a setting is completely pointless.