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SQL server – How to backup and restore

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Jay Lehnert

SQL server refers to a relational database management system, and can apply to any database management system that can respond to queries formatted in SQL language. This means the data stored inside it is housed in a “relational database”, and that the SQL server represents an entire “management system”.

What is an SQL server?

The reasons for the prominence of SQL servers in the past three decades are practicality and significant storage savings. In a database, information of any type would only be recorded once. For example, it wouldn’t matter if the customer made 100 or 100,000 purchases. All sales records would point to, or “relate” to, that same single address line with customer details. This “relating” of data, allows database sizes to stay small. Reading and writing to a database is very fast, and many databases support having multiple users access the same data at the same time. Something that text files and spreadsheets don’t do.

Also, the amount or volume of information a database can store is almost unlimited, unlike a spreadsheet, where there is a fixed number or rows that can be saved. A single SQL server can contain over 32,000 separate databases. When a new database is created, two physical files are created on the hard drive. One file holds all the objects and data, the other contains a log of all the database changes. These files are proprietary to the SQL server and cannot be opened by Word, Excel, Notepad, or any other application. The file size of a database can be over 500,000 terabytes. This means the SQL server is more than just an application to hold data; it also includes the tools needed to structure, manipulate, and manage that data. In addition, when you install the SQL server, there are options for including Report Writing tools, Data Import Export applications, Analysis tools, and Management Interfaces.

SQL server database

In many organisations today, SQL server databases are the repository for large volumes of business-critical data, and it is crucial for the data to be protected and backed up regulary. Although most  SQL features are standardised when it comes to backup, end users are faced with a multitude of choices, and solutions are often tied to a specific version of SQL.

As database size grows, the time required to complete the scheduled backups can easily exceed maintenance windows. Restore operations also become time-consuming, and huge amounts of storage space are needed for the backups. DBAs need a powerful backup and recovery solution that greatly reduces backup and recovery time, minimises storage requirements, and provides enterprise management capabilities to conduct backups across a large numbers of servers simultaneously.

Ideal SQL server backup

What to look for in a backup? Main features of a good backup strategy are: backup, restore, and verify. An ideal backup solution would enable you to schedule backup jobs, with built-in features that allow you to take faster, smaller, and more secure SQL server database backups. Last, but not the least, an important backup solution should have verification of backups, so you can rest assured your backups are done.

Another feature of an ideal backup solution is automation. With automated backups you will save time and money, and also gain peace of mind, as backups are done regularly; data is checked and verified and you are informed via e-mail.

If you want to avoid potential compatibility problems with SQL-specific backups, but still need to protect your SQL server, you might want to test some of the latest backup products. Instead of keeping track of all your different backup solutions for SQL server 2005, SQL server 2008, their versions and license expiration, you can easily use one solution and centrally manage and protect, not only your SQL servers, but your entire workgroup and much more.

Whether you are looking for a more reliable solution, or just want to make the complex issue of data protection a bit simpler and cost-effective, we encourage you to explore services such as cloud backup.

These services offer both local and remote backup locations, solutions capable of protecting all your devices and data, not just servers and databases.  Not only do you get an automated service, but the service that compresses the backup storage speeds up the backup and restore processes, providing security, but also allowing for online monitoring and comprehensive reporting. This way you can focus on your business and not on your computers and databases.

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About Jay Lehnert

Jay Lehnert
Jay has been working with GCOMM since 2002. He has been responsible for the design and implementation of many new backend systems. With the diverse environment that GCOMM works in, he has developed a broad skill set and accomplished an array of industry recognised certifications with Cisco, Microsoft and VMware. He enjoys camping, hiking and generally anything to do with the outdoors.
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