NAS Backup Guide: Protect Your NAS Data Effectively

Organizations use network-attached storage (NAS) devices to conveniently store and process the data they need to share within their environment. Regardless of the type, the data on NAS disks can be critical for an organization’s operations and subject to compliance demands. Setting up and maintaining a NAS backup is a reliable way to ensure critical data availability and control.

This post explains what NAS backup is and why you should implement it. Read on to learn the main NAS backup strategies with their pros and cons for you to consider and choose from. If you want to know how to build the most efficient data backup system for your NAS data, a specialized NAS backup solution can be your ideal choice.

What is NAS Backup?

You can define NAS backup in two ways: as a workflow and as a data item.

  • As a workflow, backup means the process of creating copies of your NAS data and transferring them to a separate storage.
  • As a data item, a backup is a copy of NAS data that you store separately and can use for recovery in case the original data is lost or corrupted.

Why Is NAS Storage Backup important?

The majority of corporate NAS devices can fit at least two storage disks. A single NAS can store multiple terabytes of data and use various disk configurations. Appropriate RAID (redundant array of independent disks) settings can help you save the data in case of specific disk failures. However, RAIDs can fail in data loss scenarios such as:

  • Hardware malfunctions in other system components such as a RAM module or a PSU of your network attached storage.
  • Ransomware can encrypt files on all NAS disks and render the entire system inoperable. The risk of a ransomware attack is higher as organizations usually use NAS to enable convenient access to data for multiple users.
  • Sprawled user access can also cause data loss issues due to malicious or unintentional data deletion.
  • A fire, a flood, an earthquake or any other natural disaster can damage or destroy hardware, including your network-attached storage parts or the entire device. Data loss and production disruptions will follow.
  • Your NAS data can be consistent and ready to use but your device is out of order due to a hardware defect or software failure. Switching disks to another machine to access the data is time-consuming and reduces overall efficiency. Additional issues may arise if you use RAID on a NAS.

Backups can simplify and accelerate NAS data recovery in case of failures and emergencies. With preconfigured recovery workflows in place, you can minimize recovery time and mitigate the consequences of data loss.

Lastly, losing NAS data can lead to financial and reputational issues for an organization. Additionally, NAS data recovery costs can be extremely high in case your disks are damaged and you don’t have backups.

NAS Backup Strategy Overview: 5 Methods to Protect Your Data

Below are five NAS storage backup strategies that you can implement to protect your data. Review and evaluate their concepts, advantages and disadvantages to make an informed choice.

Direct backup to USB drive

This NAS backup strategy is the oldest, simplest and most affordable, with the typical specifics and features of legacy IT approaches. You only need a high-capacity USB hard drive and a cable to connect that drive to the USB port of your NAS. Then, you manually copy NAS data to the backup drive.

Pros: The main advantages of this strategy are security and affordability. The backup data on a USB drive becomes air-gapped once you detach that drive from the NAS. Air-gapping increases data resilience against the vast majority of threats spreading online, including ransomware. The high-capacity hard drive is affordable compared to the cost of, for example, a dedicated backup machine.

Cons: As with any legacy method, backing up NAS data to a USB drive is inconvenient and time-consuming. A successful NAS recovery can also be challenging and complex because all you recover from a drive is data. Network settings, access configurations and other critical aspects rely on a device and its OS. Lastly, modern organizations can have NAS data volumes that exceed the capacity of the biggest drives available on the market.

NAS to NAS backup

Another way to back up your NAS data is to build a standalone network-attached storage device to serve as a specialized NAS backup system. You can adjust the capacity to regulate the total cost according to your current needs by adding storage space as your requirements grow. Also, a separate NAS enables you to configure access, data storage policies, network configuration and security settings specifically for backups. Moreover, when you copy data between NAS devices, you don’t need a dedicated backup server to organize and perform workflows.

Pros: Flexibility and adaptability are the advantages here. Also, modern NAS operating systems enable backup scheduling features that you can use to streamline data protection workflows. Native scheduling tools allow you to save costs, as you don’t need additional hardware or software.

Cons: The main issue with NAS-to-NAS backup is data inconsistency. In case a file is in use during a backup workflow, which is a common situation for shared NAS data, the recoverability of the file and the entire backup is at risk.

Cloud NAS backup

Cloud backup for NAS, which is sometimes also called a NAS online backup, is a reliable and relatively easy way to protect critical data. Cloud vendors offer backup capabilities and features that can streamline data transfer to and from online repositories.

Pros: Data availability, storage flexibility and redundancy. You can access cloud backups from any location with an internet connection. Vendors allow you to regulate cloud storage space according to your current needs and avoid overpaying for unused volumes. Plus, cloud vendors usually have their data centers distributed to ensure service availability and data accessibility.

Cons: Network storage backup and data recovery from the cloud require stable internet access to run uninterrupted workflows. Moreover, due to the large volumes of data you transfer to and from cloud repositories, your connection needs to have proper bandwidth. Also, if the size of your backups continues to grow, the overall fee for cloud storage space may significantly increase, downing the cost-effectiveness of this strategy.

NAS backup via NDMP

NDMP is an acronym for the Network Data Management Protocol created purposely to enable and direct NAS device backup management. You can use this protocol to send your data through the network to backup servers or tape. No intervention from backup clients is required.

Your NAS appliance and backup servers can establish a direct connection and the server then detects the data to back up. NDMP support is normal for most advanced backup solutions. Keep in mind that the integration and functionality of NDMP features may vary between vendors.

Pros: NDMP is the most suitable choice to back up NAS file data. Oracle Secure Backup offers full NDMP support.

Cons: The majority of database apps such as Microsoft Exchange, Db2 and SQL have partial NDMP backup integration due to app awareness requirements for data consistency. Although you can utilize custom scripts, they can require you to temporarily shut down your app. Additionally, script maintenance and troubleshooting can require specific qualifications and effort from IT experts. 

Versatile NAS backup solution

The modern data protection market offers a wide range of backup solutions to choose from. The most advanced solutions can enable NAS backup, replication and recovery, as well as all the necessary workflows in physical, virtual, cloud and hybrid environments. Some data protection tools even include backup for MSPs.

Pros: Versatility, efficiency, flexibility and security. A specialized backup solution can be suitable for environments of any size and complexity, offering a high level of automation to streamline data protection workflows. You can configure backup and recovery sequences according to your organization’s policies, available resources and hardware performance, working schedules, network bandwidth, etc. Lastly, NAS backup solutions can offer security and encryption features to prevent ransomware infections and unauthorized access to backup repositories and data.

Cons: Some third-party solutions may require learning and training for IT teams to master and effectively use. The other consideration here is the cost. Some solutions can be affordable compared to competitors while providing the same high level of services, features and functionality.

Conclusion

NAS backup is critical to ensure the integrity, protection and availability of your organization’s NAS data. The choice of strategies to back up network-attached storage data includes backup to a USB drive, to another NAS, to the cloud or via NDMP. However, the most efficient strategy involves a third-party NAS backup solution that provides the required functionality for data backup and recovery automation, security and management.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summary
Article Name
NAS Backup: How to Protect NAS Data
Description
Discover how to set up efficient NAS backup and recovery in your environment. Implement reliable NAS data backup strategies to ensure production continuity.

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