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ViUX Systems (630)
Cloud Server Backup Details
Posted by J.T. Smith on 12 July 2013 01:09 PM

VPS / Cloud Server customers have the option of selecting the number of backups and the amount of backup storage (disk) space that is provided for their VPS / Private Cloud Server on our network. When placing a server order, by default, these values are zero and disabled (respectively), which would mean that NO backups are provided for the resulting server. However that does NOT mean the server won't be backed up... it just means that the customer will not have access to any backups of the server, and that any restore action would have to be handled by us and would incur a fee for this action.


Disaster Recovery:

For our own disaster recovery purposes, all servers on our network are backed up at least once per day; however customers have no direct access to these backups unless some number of {Backups] and an equivalent amount of [Backup Disk] space has been purchased within their server subscription. If not, these backups can only be accessed by our support personnel and are intended solely for whole server disaster recovery purposes. Any restore request from a customer not otherwise paying for backups would incur a fee of $30 per incident. Also, we do not guarantee any specific retention period for backups if not purchased within the server subscription, so the retention period could be as little as 1 day.

Please note that by default our Cloud Hosting System makes use of three times data replication across each Cloud Storage Cluster, so in the event of a node failure, the system will automatically restart the affected VPS / Cloud Servers on an alternate node in the cluster using replicated data - without need for any restore from backup. Therefore our disaster recovery backups are just a further insurance policy against major system failure or human error.


Customer Accessible Backups:

Customers needing direct access to backups, free restores as needed, or a specific guaranteed retention period for their backups must purchase the desired number of [Backups] and the required amount of [Backup Disk] space to hold that amount of backups - based upon the amount of data to be stored and the average compression ratio of about 40%. [Backups] can be purchased for a retention period of 1 to 84 weeks (at least 2 weeks recommended), and the order form allows for up to 1TB of [Backup Disk] - however amounts beyond this can be selected later in the control panel as an upgrade order. If the selected amount of [Backup Disk] space with compression is not enough to hold the number of selected [Backups], then backups will start to fail and/or older backups may be deleted short of the desired retention period.

Customers with [Backups] and [Backup Disk] selected within their server subscription can directly access their server backups from within the Parallels / Virtuozzo Power Panel interface on port 4643 over HTTPS using the server's IP Address (contact support for login details). Server backups are found within the [Maintenance] section of the interface , where the backups can be browsed to restore individual files and folders, or the entire server can be restored in one step. Customers may also open a support ticket to have any desired restore action completed on their behalf, and the $30 fee will be waved if backups have been ordered within the server subscription. Please note that you should use caution when deleting backups from this interface, as we have no means to recover a deleted backup.


Backup Storage:

By default backups are stored on Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices that reside within the same datacenter and racks as the source servers. This is because we use datacenters that are protected against theft, water, fire and other such natural and human threats - however customers requiring tape backups and/or offsite backups (for additional protection) can purchase these services for an additional fee.


Continuous Data Protection (CDP) & Snapshots:

By default backups are taken only ONCE per day, which normally takes place between 12AM and 6AM EST (-5 GMT). Therefore if a restore from backup is required, it could result in up to nearly a full day of data loss depending on the timing and circumstances of the event. If a customer requires more or "real-time" backups, additional [Snapshots] or [CDP] can be purchased for an additional fee.

[Snapshots] are just additional incremental backup images that are taken during the day, to lessen the amount of time that passed between backups. For instance, adding one additional snapshot would lower the time between backups from 24 hours to 12; and having 4 snapshots would put 6 hours between backups, etc... Please note that adding [Snapshots] also requires an increase in the number of selected [Backups] to maintain a desired retention period, and may also require more [Backup Disk] space to hold the additional backups.

[CDP] is "Continuous Data Protection", which is where we use special third party software (idera) to backup server data and changes in "real-time" to a designated alternate destination. [CDP] is recommended when the time between backups is desired to be less than 2 hours, which would be 12 or more [Snapshots]. When [CDP] is selected for a server, the settings for both [Backups] and [Snapshots] become disabled, as only the amount of [Backup Disk] space is relevant for Continuous Data Protection.


Database / Open File Backups:

By default nightly incremental backups are taken while the server remains running. Despite this, in most cases the system is still able to create a reliable whole server backup, as well as, backups of MySQL / MyS-SQL Databases, E-mails, OS, and other open files that may be present on the server. Weekly full backups are taken while the server is briefly stopped to insure a viable backup, thus resulting in a small amount of downtime, which most often takes place during the Saturday night / Sunday morning backup cycle.

However the integrity of very active or very large SQL Databases cannot be guaranteed with either weekly full or nightly incremental backups. For this reason, SQL Administrators are highly recommended to create local SQL dumps / backups within the local server on a frequently scheduled basis, so that these additional database specific backups will be backed up along with the whole server each night - for added database protection.


Website Backups:

By default websites hosted on servers are backed up along with all other files and folders thereon; however if a server contains the Plesk Control Panel, there is an additional website specific backup option. Website Administrators can configure website backups within Plesk to store these on the local server or even send them to a remote FTP location. Having website specific backups is ideal for sites that change often or that are based upon a CMS or have some other complex aspect(s) that a whole server backup may not capture as desired.


Backup Security:

All backups on our network are secured from third party access or from access by other customers. Only authorized personnel have access to backup data, and any backup devices and servers that are being re-purposed or decommissioned are thoroughly wiped of any existing data. However please note that some Plesk Website / Database backup functions on Shared Hosting Servers may not be completely secure in all circumstances, so customers with sensitive data are recommended NOT to use Shared Hosting (in the first place), or to at least NOT use the Plesk Website or Database backup functions for sensitive / private data. This does not apply to VPS / Private Cloud Server or Dedicated Server customers, which is the recommended type of hosting for those with sensitive / private or business critical data.


Backup Downtime & Server Reboots:

Before rebooting a VPS / Cloud Server via Plesk, VZPP, RDP, SSH, etc... please make sure that it is NOT currently in a backup cycle. Rebooting a server while it is being backed up will cause the server to hang until the backup cycle has completed, then it will reboot - resulting in downtime for the server and all sites / services thereon for the duration of the backup cycle and reboot. Otherwise, all sites and services should remain fully function during the entire backup cycle for nightly incremental backups. Weekly full backups will result in a brief amount of downtime, as the server is stopped during the first part of the backup cycle to clear open files while an image is taken. During the server order process (or later within the control panel) customers can control how their backups are handled with regard to when or if the server is to be stopped.


Backup Window:

By default backups take place during a nightly scheduled window between 12AM and 6AM EST (-5GMT); however during the order process (or later within the control panel) customers can select their desired backup window, if this window conflicts with peak hours or if a more narrow window is desired. Setting a custom backup window will incur a one-time setup fee and an additional fee of $5 per month.


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