Introduction to Backup and Recovery with Acronis

Acronis provides a file backup and recovery service. Backup is done with delta snapshots initiated by a snapshot agent on each protected server, the snapshots are sent to Acronis’s Local Cloud Appliance (LCA), a device that receives the snapshots and stores them. It can also forward the snapshots to a remote “cloud.” The cloud consists of a number of servers in data centers in several locations: in Dallas, TX, Ashburn, VA, and London, England. The advantage of this backup approach is that it does not require that servers be taken off-line during a formal backup window for a full copy.

This is often described as transferring business data from the client’s primary storage to local secondary storage. Backup operations are executed without any impact to production environments and processing and with no backup window. Business data is protected periodically.

An agent is installed on each server to be backed up. These agents replicate data on the client’s servers to the LCA according to a pre-defined schedule. Typical backup schedules are every 15–60 minutes.

Data is copied as a snapshot—a read-only copy of the data set frozen at a point in time—with incremental differencing (deltas). The snapshot technology allows applications to continue writing to their data, and the time and I/O needed to create the snapshot does not increase with the size of the data set. From the LCA, data is replicated over an encrypted WAN to the Acronis remote cloud data centers.

Private network connectivity between client sites and the Acronis cloud is via a VPN tunnel or MPLS connection.

Snapshots are automatically merged to maximize the efficiency with which data can be recovered while minimizing the amount of storage required to hold backups. The agent is configured to keep snapshots for a specified number of time intervals: hours, days, weeks, and months; this is called the retention policy. A common setting is 24 hours, 7 days, 4 weeks, and 1 month. To achieve this, the snapshots are rolled up (merged) so that a day’s worth of hourly snapshots are merged into a single snapshot for that day, a week’s worth of daily snapshots are merged into a single snapshot for that week, and a month’s worth of weekly snapshots are merged into a single snapshot for that month. Not all clients keep backups beyond a month.

Files can be recovered from any snapshot on either the LCA or the remote cloud.

Recovery Console provides an overview of the storage backup configuration with the tools to change that configuration, monitor the status of the Recovery Point Objective for each server being protected, test activation, and to initiate recovery.

Key software that the LCA employs is VMware and a solution for taking snapshots. This can be Acronis Backup or FalconStor Continuous Data Protector.

Acronis’s remote cloud servers are configured like the LCA.