Backup Retention, How to Set a Rotation

Backup retention strategies are at the heart of enterprise data protection protocols. However, it’s critical to choose the right rotation scheme that best suits your operational schedules. This approach helps avoid potential disruptions and downtime.

In this scenario, organisations can leverage user-written scripts or different software applications to schedule data backup, retention, and rotation schemes. But most often, enterprises, including managed services providers, use tape backups because they’re durable and cost-effective.

What Is Backup Tape Rotation?

Backup tape rotation is the process of backing up data to tapes. This approach helps reduce the number of media needed because you can reuse the same tapes for future backups.

However, it’s vital to manage your backup rotation schedule with several redundant copies. This retention method helps preserve rapidly evolving and changing file versions.

Companies need to have a robust strategy in place to determine when each tape is scheduled for another backup. Most businesses, including managed IT services providers, do this based on how long the data on it needs to be retained (before it’s scheduled for another backup).

Although the data that’s backed up most of the time is the same, enterprises can better balance retention requirements and costs by deploying different rotation and vaulting schemes.

What Are the Different Types of Backup Tape Rotation Schemes?

The right backup rotation scheme for your business depends on your specific storage and retention requirements.

The three leading backup retention and rotation schemes are as follows:

First In, First Out (FIFO) Backup Tape Rotation Scheme

FIFO focuses on backing up the newest or the most recently modified files and saves it on the oldest tape. When companies do this, they ensure that they use a backup tape with the least useful (previous) data.

When you follow the FIFO retention and rotation model, your backup depth goes as far as the number of tapes used for this activity.

Grandfather–Father–Son (GFS) Backup Tape Rotation Scheme

GFS backup schemes are popular among companies that leverage three or more backup cycles. The GFS model leverages daily, weekly, and monthly data backup models, depending on the business’ specific needs. However, these daily, weekly, and monthly backup tapes follow the FIFO rotation system.

The Tower of Hanoi Backup Tape Rotation Scheme

The Tower of Hanoi retention and rotation model is the most complex of the three strategies. This scheme follows a mathematical puzzle created by French mathematician Edward Lucas.

The Tower of Hanoi backups and tape rotation cycle follows exponential retention periods. The scheduled tape backup schedule follows a recursive pattern instead of using a large number of backup tapes daily.

For example, Tape A is used to backup data every two days, while Tape B is used every four days. Tape C and Tape D are backed up every eight days.

The idea here is that data from eight days ago can be used for restoration despite using just four backup tapes. If you use five tapes, then the backup data from 16 days ago will be available to restore data.

Backup Retention and Rotation Tips:

  • Always verify the seamless recovery of your backup data
  • Always create a version history (regardless of the backup and retention approach)
  • Always store backup tapes off-site.
  • Always have a robust management system in place

At GoHosting, we recommend that enterprises use one of the regular rotation schedules described above. They provide for different file versions and backup most applications and software packages.

The best backup and retention method for your organisation is relative to your company and business model.

If you need help identifying and deploying the right backup data retention and restoration scheme, we can help schedule a commitment-free consultation.