Free Network Backup Software

Free Network Backup Software

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Network backup is a way to transmit backup data from the selected device or devices to the backup server via network (Internet). The backup server itself may be either privately owned, or via one of the many cloud backup providers available. Network backup itself is typically a clear necessity to ensure that your organization’s data is safe and protected.

Some network backup systems are also capable of managing backup of data stored in different types of storage media that are connected to your backup server via some kind of network. This can be especially important for larger enterprises that are dealing with massive amounts of data in their NAS (network attached storage) devices.

Aside from the more regular backup practices and considerations, network backup has its own specific limitations and challenges. Here are some examples of typical challenges - or even obstructions - to effective network backup:

  • Network hardware that is no longer fit for purpose (outdated, obsolete, old and/or unreliable)
  • Files that are still open or being written to at the time of the backup
  • Low security standards across the network
  • The connection speed for the process is slow or inconsistent.

Modern open source backup software should be able to operate correctly within various network types and conditions, and should have a variety of features, including:

  • No limitations for network backup data or individual files being backed up;
  • The ability to localize the backup operation, creating a backup of a data that is kept within all of the devices in a certain network;
  • The option to quickly copy and paste singular files;
  • The ability to backup entire operating systems of end devices, from switches and routers to computers and servers;
  • The ability to include configuration files of different sizes and formats in the backups;
  • The ability to perform at least a part of the process automatically;
  • The flexibility to manage with situations arising from limited or inconsistent network speed and connectivity.

It can sometimes be the perception that the main purpose of free network backup solutions is to protect data in the case of some sort of a disaster that causes information loss. It is strongly recommended to also consider the advantages of  network backup beyond only disaster situations.

Implementing an open source network backup software as a part of the company’s platform to begin with allows much easier, efficient and more convenient protection of an organization’s information in general. New technologies are constantly increasing the amount of information that is typically being created on a daily basis, and there are many contributing factors for such exponential increase in information generation, such as IoT (internet of things), virtualization, artificial intelligence, big data, and so on.

The amount of information that an average organization is working with nowadays is considerable and nearly always growing - and often requires the best free network backup software to protect their data from either partial or total loss. The network backup itself is a backup method that copies the data flowing through the local network, WAN and perhaps FC/iSCSi protocols.

There is no doubt that some companies require case-specific solutions for their free network backup software needs, however there are also some general recommendations of what a proper open source network backup software should deliver:

  • Reliability. Free network backup solutions should guarantee the proper execution of all the necessary backup and/or recovery processes, to keep your data integrity intact
  • Ease of use. A proper solution should perform smoothly, even in complex situations and when working with massive internal systems, keeping backup and recover processes efficient and agile
  • Secure. One of the main tasks of the best free network backup software should not be not only the protection of users’ data, but also the protection of the backup volumes that contain all of that data, and more. It is especially important considering that being adequately secure is a critical element of a network backup system’s capability
  • Easy to implement. The solution should be capable of working with heterogeneous environments regarding hardware, software, processes, and so on
  • Capable of adapting. Being flexible to fit a company’s specific backup needs is a key characteristic that makes a great network backup and recovery solution

The main disadvantage of not having a proper network backup solution in place is of course the absence of a contingency plan if anything detrimental happens to data. In many cases, the results are catastrophic to a company’s well-being.

Network backup is a complex system that aims to avoid overloading an organizations’ infrastructure while performing its range of backup and/or recovery tasks. Since a network is typically a complex entity in its own right, no part of it  should be overloaded in any case by a data backup attempt from your network backup solution.

There are two main ways of preventing data loss regarding storing backups in specific locations: local locations (onsite), and remote ones (offsite). Their purpose remains the same: to keep the backed up data safe and sound, even if the original system loses some or all of its data.

Local locations are often used as a place to save backed up information within the physical equipment that is located in the same physical space and can be quickly accessed via a LAN network. Remote locations on the other hand, allow companies to have a separated and independent storage for their backups in case of a massive data loss within the LAN. Cloud storages are one way of achieving this, and are available from many different providers, such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google, to less well-known ones, whether private or public.

A network itself is a complicated system that can grow quite rapidly over time. There are three main types of the equipment that are part of the network:

  • Physical equipment itself (phones, PCs, servers, and so on)
  • Physical wiring
  • Interconnection devices (firewalls, routers, modems, etc.)

There are a variety of features and options that the best free network backup software may use in an attempt to make backup and recovery jobs easier, faster and more secure. Some of these may be:

  • Deduplication
  • Packet size and number reduction
  • Different backup type execution
  • Compression
  • Bandwidth management
  • Backup volume protection
  • Data replication, and more

There’s a plethora of different backup solutions out there that can perform network backup operations. One of those solutions is Bacula Community – a free open source multifunctional solution capable of performing a number of different backup solutions and/or backup types. You can find out more about Bacula Community and its specific capabilities here.

If you’re also interested in Windows Backup, check out Bacula’s solution.

About the author

Rob Morrison

Rob Morrison started his IT career with Silicon Graphics in Switzerland, which developed into a wide variety of IT management roles for almost 10 years. He has subsequently held various management positions in professional open source companies such as JBoss, Red Hat and Pentaho, contributing to the growth of these well-known companies. He is a graduate of Plymouth University and holds an Digital Media and Communications BSc Honours degree, and completed an Overseas Studies Program.