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How to overcome small business data recovery challenges

Paul Mah | Sept. 20, 2013
Data recovery has mattered ever since businesses started relying on PCs in the workplace. Today's common storage options for small businesses all present some disaster recovery challenges. Here's what your organization should do to address them.

SSD: Buy From Those Who Understand NAND
While it will be years yet before the solid state drive eclipses the traditional HDD, SSDs are increasingly found in laptops and servers. It's therefore crucial to understand the capabilities of this once-niche storage device.

There are many SSD makers on the market today, and it's worth noting that not all SSDs are designed and built the same way. Some SSD makers buy the requisite flash memory chips from NAND manufacturers, license existing firmware and then put it all together. These manufacturers often fine-tune the firmware for better performance (and product differentiation).

According to Micron Technology, another type of SSD makers does everything in-house; this includes using existing NAND fabrication knowledge, manufacturing the flash memory chips and rolling its own firmware.

When it comes to reliability, you may be tempted to think all are equal, but Micron contends that the devil's in the details. "The endurance and reliability of NAND additionally dictates an intimate knowledge of NAND characteristics," says Doug Rollins, a senior applications engineer at Micron. "NAND varies widely depending on its density, process maturity, test knowledge, test maturity and a host of other factors."

SLC NAND chips have traditionally been considered more robust than MLC ones due to the significantly higher writes that they can endure. (Some SSD makers push this fact in your face when touting exorbitantly priced SLC-based SSDs.)

However, Rollins warns against such single-track thinking. "Don't pin your data integrity hopes on a certain type of NAND," he says, suggesting that businesses would do well to thoroughly evaluate their needs from a cost perspective.

Ultimately, vendor support may have a significant bearing on successful data recovery should an SSD drive fail. If anything, this may dissuade businesses from deploying SSDs from new or unknown brands. Don't count them out entirely, though, as they may have partners in high places.

Intel, for example, works with third-party data recovery service companies such as DriveSavers, Gillware and Kroll Ontrack, all of which provide data recovery service support on Intel SSD drives.

Data Recovery Options Limited For Nonstandard Storage (For Now)
RAID arrays are the de facto standard for data storage today, but they aren't without their limitations - namely, the inability to easily add capacity without rebuilding the entire array or to utilize storage drives of different capacities. To overcome these limitations, some storage device makers have come up with their own storage implementations.

For example, Drobo makes use of an advanced system called BeyondRAID, which supports instant expansion and the use of mixed drives. In a similar vein, Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) allows its NAS offering to utilize HDDs with different capacities in the same array. For all this flexibility and convenience, however, businesses need to know that using non-standard implementations may mean having fewer data recovery options.


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