What is Continuous Data Protection?

Continuous data protection is a kind of digital storage system that insures the complete recoverability of all computer data. It goes by several names: real-time backup and continuous backup are both used with the same meaning. If you’re used to backing up changes you make to documents by pressing the “save” button or relying on your computer automatically to save data every five minutes or so, then you are using the traditional backup system. Continuous data protection is much more intense: every time a single change is made in a given enterprise, a backup copy is made at that instant. This action has been referred to as a “storage snapshot”; continuous data protection creates a complete “electronic journal” of storage snapshots any of which can be accessed if necessary, according to Tech Target.

Why is Continuous Data Protection Important?

When the computer data being created is of serious consequence, it must be protected against two dangerous contingencies. The first of these is the possibility of the mutilation or corruption of the file being created. This damage may go unnoticed for some time. When it is spotted, continuous data protection storage allows the user to return to the latest “clean” copy of the file and begin working on it at that point. The second contingency involves deliberate damage to the file through infection by a virus or infiltration by “Trojan Horse” malware. Again, if continuous data protection is in place, the latest copy of the file before the viral or Trojan attack can be recovered safely.

Who Needs Continuous Data Protection?

For the most part, the casual computer user can get by with the traditional backup system, as can businesses that do not rely upon stored and frequently changing data. For a small business, continuous data storage can have a serious affect upon network performance, since it demands considerable bandwidth. But for businesses and organizations that must handle many digital files in which input is changed frequently, continuous data protection can make the recovery of lost materials a matter of seconds rather than of anxious days and weeks. For many, this time factor is the bottom line: if the organization will be hurt by the forced down-time required to recover data, then continuous data protection is the storage system for them.

How Does Continuous Data Protection Work?

As computer data are created, it is stored on its computer’s disk; with continuous data protection, the data are also written to a second location known as the target. The target may be located at the same place as the originating computer, or it may be located at a different physical location with data being sent to it via a computer network. Some continuous data protection storage plans allow for two targets, one on-site and the other at a second location. The advantage of the second location lies in the possibility of major damage to files through fire or some other disaster at the main site; when this happens, the data will still be recoverable.

As the advantages of using a continuous data protection storage system become more and more apparent to businesses and organizations, demand for it has increased, leading to a variety of software that claims to be able to provide “near-continuous” protection using procedures very similar to those of the true product, according to Computer Weekly.

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Before investing in such systems, considerable thought must be given to exactly how much data protection is sufficient in each case. Certainly continuous data protection can insure complete and secure recovery of all data lost due to system failure, malware, or other digital disasters.