Veeam, Cloud Backup and the Insanity of Periodic Full Backups

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I have been seeing a lot of attention being given to very low cost storage providers like Wasabi, Backblaze, and also public storage providers such as AWS to point Veeam offsite backups. Never do I see mentioned that these solutions require a periodic full backup to be performed over the internet.

Think about that for a second. A cloud backup solution that requires you to perform full backups regularly? That is, quite frankly, INSANE!

Organizations are creating ever more data, but the hours in the day remain fixed. Even 10 years ago, industry analysts like Forrester Research was advising clients to avoid backup products that require full backups (see report here), and instead recommended “incremental-forever” backup technology – and that was almost 10 years ago!

Full backups across the internet might be just fine if you are a small business with a few hundred gigabytes of data, but even modest size companies are going to find it difficult to efficiently backup even a few terabytes of data on a regular basis.

Veeam best practices say you should not have an incremental chain of backups over 30 incrementals long. This could be 30 days of backups if making a backup once per day. So that means at minimum, a full backup should be made once every 30 days – and even at that, a worse case scenario would be the loss of 29 days of backups if the incremental chain is corrupted. If you’re making a backup every 4 hours, then a full backup should be performed every 5 days.

Full backups over the internet are problematic because they can take days to run and consume large amounts of bandwidth. Companies often pay to increase their internet bandwidth to help resolve the issue, which takes away the cost effectiveness of the low cost storage solutions!

As data volumes increase, the bandwidth will also need to be increased. Moreover, while the full backup is completing, then no other offsite backups are occurring. So if it takes 3 or 4 days to perform a full backup that means you are going 3 or 4 days without an offsite backup.

To solve this issue you need to run compute on the cloud side to enable “synthetic full backups”, which is a process by which Veeam re-builds the full backup on the cloud side without having to perform an actual full backup.

In this configuration you can enable a true “incremental-forever” backup method that will not require periodic full backups to be made after the first full.  This can be achieved in AWS and Azure where compute resources, such as a Windows server, can be used to process the synthetic full, but then there is the added cost of compute resources and the client has another server to update, monitor, and manage, increasing costs.

Low cost storage providers such as Wasabi and Back Blaze, offer no computing resources so there is no option for this on their platforms.  You might be saving in storage costs, but also experiencing other costs such as increased bandwidth requirements and delaying additional offsite backups from occurring.

Veeam Cloud Connect Service Providers eliminate many of these issues as these are specialized services focused on Veeam cloud backups. The service provider performs the synthetic full backup on their side, which avoids periodic full backups over the internet. Additionally, a Veeam Cloud Connect Service provider will also have the Veeam expertise and generally better service level agreements around backup and DR services.

Summary:  By leveraging a Veeam Cloud Connect Service provider you get true incremental-forever backups, minimize bandwidth usage, and get better service levels.

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