What is an enterprise backup?

Introduction to Enterprise Backups

An enterprise backup is a system for backing up and protecting the data of large organizations or corporations across many devices, servers, and locations. Enterprise backups are crucial for safeguarding important business data and maintaining operations in the event of data loss or system failure. Without proper enterprise backup solutions, companies risk permanent data loss that could be catastrophic for business continuity.

Enterprise backups have a number of key differences from individual computer backups. They operate on a much larger scale, with the ability to back up terabytes or petabytes of data across an entire network. Enterprise solutions centralize the backup process through dedicated backup servers, software, and appliances. Backups are automated based on schedules and policies, allowing regular and systematic protection of business data. Support for incremental and differential backup types reduces storage needs and backup windows. Overall, enterprise backups require comprehensive planning, network architecture, and backup management to implement successfully.

This article will provide an in-depth look at the components and best practices of enterprise backup solutions. Key topics will include backup types, software, hardware, strategies, data deduplication, networks, compression, security, and monitoring. The goal is to understand the core technologies and infrastructure involved in protecting critical business data through enterprise-scale backups. Proper implementation of backups is essential for minimizing downtime, ensuring continuity, and securing data across the organization.

Types of Enterprise Backups

There are several different types of backups that are commonly used by enterprises:

Full vs Incremental vs Differential Backups

A full backup copies all the data in its entirety. This provides a complete restore point, but requires a large amount of storage space and time to complete. Full backups are not performed frequently due to their size.[1]

An incremental backup only copies data that has changed since the last backup. This saves storage space and time compared to a full backup. To fully restore data, you need the last full backup plus every incremental backup done since then.[2]

A differential backup copies data changed since the last full backup. Differential backups grow larger over time but provide faster restores than incrementals since only two backup sets are required – the last full backup and the last differential.[3]

Local vs Cloud Backups

A local backup copies data to a storage device on premises such as a NAS device or external drive. Local backups provide faster recovery and more control but have physical security risks.[1]

A cloud backup sends data over the internet to remote cloud storage maintained by a provider. Cloud backups provide offsite protection and managed storage but rely on internet bandwidth.[2]

Snapshot Backups

A snapshot creates a point-in-time copy of a storage volume or virtual machine (VM). Snapshots can provide quick rollback of data but are not suitable for long-term retention.[3]

[1] https://www.techtarget.com/searchdatabackup/feature/Full-incremental-or-differential-How-to-choose-the-correct-backup-type

[2] https://www.unitrends.com/blog/types-of-backup-full-incremental-differential

[3] https://spanning.com/blog/types-of-backup-understanding-full-differential-incremental-backup/

Backup Software

Enterprise backup software platforms provide tools to protect and recover critical business data. Leading solutions offer capabilities like incremental backups, compression, deduplication, and support for diverse environments like virtual machines, databases, cloud applications, and mobile devices.

According to Gartner, top vendors include Veritas, Commvault, Dell EMC, IBM, and Veeam [1]. Veritas Backup Exec is a popular choice known for its versatility, while Veeam provides specialized support for virtualized environments. Meanwhile, Commvault offers a single solution for backup, recovery, archiving and disaster recovery.

When evaluating options, key considerations include platform support, scalability, security features, cloud integration, recovery point objectives, and total cost of ownership. The ideal solution depends on the specific needs and infrastructure of the enterprise.

Backup Hardware

There are several types of hardware used for enterprise backups, including on-premises storage, cloud storage, tape drives, and backup appliances.

On-premises storage refers to storage devices located within a company’s own data center or office space. This includes disk arrays, NAS devices, and SANs. On-premises storage allows companies to retain full control over their backup data. However, it requires purchasing and maintaining hardware onsite. Gartner notes that on-premises storage offers high performance for backups and restores.

Cloud storage refers to remote storage accessed over the internet. Cloud storage providers manage the hardware, allowing companies to avoid capital expenses for backup hardware. However, bandwidth costs and data privacy concerns may arise with public cloud storage. TrustRadius reports that leading enterprise backup solutions offer hybrid options to balance on-prem and cloud storage.

Tape drives use magnetic tape cartridges for long-term data archiving. They provide an air-gap for security and very inexpensive storage per gigabyte. However, tape has slower access times for finding and restoring data versus disks. Tape is ideal for infrequent retrieval of large backup archives.

Backup appliances integrate software and hardware into purpose-built backup systems. For example, they may couple disk arrays with data deduplication and compression along with backup software. Appliances simplify deployment and management. But they provide less flexibility to customize and expand the environment than building your own backup infrastructure.

Backup Strategies

Some common backup strategies used by enterprises include:

Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape (D2D2T)

D2D2T involves backing up data to disk-based storage first for faster restores, then moving it to tape for long-term archival storage. This combines the speed of disk with the low cost of tape. TechTarget


This rotation scheme uses daily, weekly, and monthly backups. Daily backups are the “son”, weekly backups are the “father”, and monthly backups are the “grandfather”. Older backups are gradually replaced by newer ones while maintaining multiple generations. Nakivo

Retention Policies

Retention policies determine how long backups are kept before being deleted. Shorter retention for recent backups, longer retention for older ones. Helps limit storage needs while preserving needed backups. ConnectWise

Data Deduplication

Data deduplication is a technique used to reduce storage needs and bandwidth utilization by eliminating redundant data when backing up enterprise systems. Deduplication works by identifying duplicate data blocks and only storing unique blocks once. Pointers are used to link duplicate blocks to the single unique copy stored. This process reduces storage capacity needs since only unique data is stored. Deduplication also minimizes network bandwidth usage by only transferring unique data across the network.

There are two main approaches to deduplication: post-process and inline. Post-process deduplication occurs after backup data has been written to storage. The backup application scans for duplicate data and removes redundancies after the fact. Inline deduplication happens during the process of writing backup data to disk. Duplicate blocks are identified and eliminated before being written to storage. Inline deduplication maximizes storage reduction but can impact backup performance.

Deduplication provides significant reductions in backup storage capacity requirements. According to TechTarget, a deduplication ratio of 20:1 for backup data is common. This allows enterprises to retain more backup versions while minimizing additional storage costs.

Backup Networks

Enterprise backups require efficient data transfer across networks to ensure timely and reliable backups. The three main types of networks used for enterprise backup are:

LAN (Local Area Network)

LANs provide high-speed, low-latency connections within a local area like an office or building. LANs enable quick transfers of backup data from devices to a central backup server or appliance (see 1). However, LAN speeds are limited by the network equipment used.

SAN (Storage Area Network)

SANs are dedicated high-speed networks for connecting storage devices. They provide block-level access to storage volumes over Fibre Channel, iSCSI, NVMe over Fabrics or other protocols (see 2). SANs optimize and consolidate storage traffic, which improves backup speeds.

WAN (Wide Area Network)

WANs connect LANs across distances, allowing remote office backups to a central data center. Optimizing WANs for backup traffic through techniques like bandwidth throttling, data deduplication and compression maximizes transfer speeds (see 3). Slow WAN links remain a common bottleneck for backups.

Overall, utilizing LANs, SANs and optimized WANs provides the redundant, high-performance network infrastructure critical for successful enterprise backups.


1. https://www.gartner.com/reviews/market/enterprise-backup-and-recovery-software-solutions

2. https://www.trustradius.com/enterprise-backup

3. https://www.hycu.com/blog/enterprise-data-backup-recovery-solutions

Data Compression

Data compression is an important aspect of enterprise backups because it reduces the storage space needed and bandwidth required to transfer backup data. By compressing data, businesses can save on storage costs and minimize network strain during backups (Microsoft).

Backup software and hardware often include built-in compression capabilities. Compression works by removing redundant information and re-encoding files to take up less space. Compression ratios of 2:1 or greater are common, meaning the compressed backup is half the size or less of the original (EaseUS).

Some best practices around compressed backups include:

  • Compress at the source if possible – compressing data before it goes across the network maximizes bandwidth savings.
  • Benchmark different compression levels – higher levels may produce diminishing returns.
  • Test restores of compressed data – ensure backups remain usable.

The benefits of reduced storage and network needs often outweigh the extra processing load compression adds. Still, businesses should test to find optimal compression levels. Intelligently compressing backup data helps enterprises cut costs while maintaining data security.


Securing backup data is a critical part of any enterprise backup strategy. Some key security best practices include:

  • Encrypt all backups using 256-bit AES encryption or stronger and set a strong password for every backup plan [1].
  • Limit access rights to backup systems and data. Only authorized personnel should be able to access backups [2].
  • Include backup systems in disaster recovery and business continuity planning. Test restoring from backups regularly [2].
  • Store backup data offsite or in the cloud to protect against onsite failures or disasters [3].

Properly securing backup data helps ensure it can be reliably restored when needed and prevents unauthorized access or theft of sensitive information.

Testing and Monitoring

Testing and monitoring are critical components of any enterprise backup strategy. This allows organizations to validate that backups are working as intended and data can be successfully recovered when needed. Some best practices for testing and monitoring include:

Performing validation testing on a regular cadence to verify backup integrity and recoverability. This involves restoring sample data sets or doing test recoveries on non-production systems. Testing helps uncover any potential gaps or issues early on.[1]

Setting up monitoring and alerts for backup jobs. This enables IT teams to get notified immediately if a backup job fails or encounters errors. Monitoring backup job success rates is also important to ensure sufficient data is being captured.[2]

Testing recoverability for different data sets and scenarios. More extensive disaster recovery testing validates that critical systems and data can be restored correctly in the event of an outage. This helps evaluate backup strategies against real-world RTO/RPO objectives.

Leveraging built-in reporting in backup software for insights into trends, storage consumption, job status, etc. Reporting provides visibility and can help identify problem areas.

Conducting annual restore drills to test end-to-end recovery procedures. This helps evaluate any gaps in documentation and unknowns ahead of an actual emergency.

By making testing and monitoring central to backup operations, organizations can have increased confidence in meeting backup objectives and being able to successfully recover data when the need arises.