We spoke to Will Brooks, Commercial Director of Zenzero, on how Zenzero are now using StorageCraft technology as in integral part of their backup and recovery solutions. Will explains to us why Zenzero chose StorageCraft and how they have used StorageCraft to quickly recover both different types of server failures and also individual emails and mailboxes.

Why did you choose StorageCraft instead of some other backup and recovery solutions?

Zenzero’s customers need to know that their desktop and server data is secure and in the event of a disaster can be quickly recovered. Because most small businesses operate out of one site the options for a replication system between offices is limited. Also the risks of backing up important data to a media device in the same building are well documented. In 2012 Zenzero were using different backup and recovery vendors (Acronis, Symantec and Attix) to provide the best solution based on a customer’s environment and requirements. While all these vendors had their own strengths the solutions were difficult to manage and suffered from functionality and reliability issues. In 2013 Zenzero evaluated the ShadowProtect software and realised how it would be more efficient, cost effective and reliable than the solutions we had currently deployed.

How do Zenzero use StorageCraft in your backup solutions architecture?

Zenzero have two datacentres, one in Warwick and one in Chelmsford running Dell PowerEdge servers and connected by a 50MB VPN. We then encourage all of our customers to redirect documents from the users PC’s to the server where ShadowProtect is installed. At the initiation of the service a copy of the data is saved to a USB hard drive which is then taken to one of the Zenzero datacentres to be used as a seed disc. A second USB drive is attached to the server (and left there) to which hourly backups are written to. At one minute past midnight the incremental changes are encrypted (128 bit AES) and transferred over the internet to the designated server.

Zenzero’s standard policy for the retention of data is as follows:

  • Hourly backups for 7 days
  • Daily backups kept for 15 days
  • Weekly backups kept for 90 days
  • Monthly backups kept for 3 years

There are times when a customer needs to operate with different retention policies (normally for legal or compliance reasons) and in these situations Zenzero are happy to amend the schedule accordingly

How have you used StorageCraft for backups and can you give some examples of when StorageCraft disaster recovery solutions were needed?

The power of the Zenzero backup solution has been proved many times with different customers who have experienced diverse challenges. Examples of situations where Zenzero customers have benefited from StorageCraft solutions include:

1. Using StorageCraft for a quick recovery of a server infected by a virus

A law firm in Warwick unknowingly infected their network with the Crypto Locker virus by clicking on a link which ran an executable. It was seven hours before it was detected, during which time a large number of files had been encrypted. As soon as the issue had been detected the infected machine was taken offline and the corrupted files were restored from the hourly backup. Users were able to continue to use other parts of the system while the corrupted files were restored.

As a contingency measure Zenzero restored a full copy of this server to our virtual platform using the HeadStart Restore technology. Using this method a copy of the server was fully restored within 30 minutes. This allowed us to access individual files should the customer need while the main backup was restored.

StorageCraft technology used: ShadowProtect Server, StorageCraft ImageManager, and HeadStart Restore.

2. Using StorageCraft for full recovery of a server in less than 60 minutes

During the middle of the afternoon Lawton Tubes, a Manufacturing firm in Coventry had a server fail with a critical failure on a raid array. Unfortunately the server had just fallen out of manufactures warranty. Zenzero keep a number of spare servers in our offices and as soon as the issue was identified a backup restore was initiated on one of the spare servers. That evening the server was delivered to site and the system fully restored with less than 60 minutes worth of data lost.

StorageCraft technology used: ShadowProtect Server, ImageManager, HeadStart Restore to different hardware.

3. Using StorageCraft for a quick recovery of emails and mailboxes

One of Zenzero’s customers is a packaging firm from Redditch. They had a mailbox with shared permissions and accidently one user had deleted a mailbox that another user needed occasional access to. Because the folder was only accessed occasionally it was three months before the deletion was noticed. Using StorageCraft the Zenzero engineers were able to look back and find a backup which still had the mailbox and then restore the data.

StorageCraft technology used: ShadowProtect Server, ImageManager, Granular Recovery for Exchange

Do you also use StorageCraft products to migrate client data to the Cloud? How did you find StorageCraft products for migration of data to the Cloud?

Yes we do, and we love this feature because it gives us lots of control. We are able to control and understand what data is uploading, and when.

At Zenzero we use ImageManager’s FTP replication to replicate our backups into the cloud. The majority of Zenzero customers have a local backup instance (USB/NAS/Local Disk storage) that then replicates a consolidated daily backup via FTP overnight. The ImageManager technology allows Zenzero to be confident that the backup files are validated at both the source and destination. This also helps to minimize bandwidth requirements by consolidating the daily backup files at both the source and the destination into the weekly and monthly backup files.

Because this approach allows full control over both the source and destination we are able to troubleshoot particular issues that arise with cloud based backups including

  • Internet line restrictions as we can control at what times backup replicate
  • Size issues because we are able to analyse the backup files we restore locally and understand how data volumes change over time and then spot trends in increasing backup sizes