Database Backup, Carbonite Style

by Lynnette Nolan | Jul 23, 2013

At Carbonite, we are always looking to wring out cost and complexity from the backup process. Carbonite pioneered simple-to-use and low cost backups for computers, and today we backup laptops, desktops, NAS devices, external hard drives, servers and mobile devices for our 1.5+ million customers. Now, we are bringing simplicity and low-cost to server and database backups as well. With the release of Carbonite Enhanced Server Backup, we are reducing the cost and complexity of server and database backups by an order of magnitude.

With databases always top of mind for small businesses, let’s see what that looks like with our new offering…

A Blurry Image Won’t Do:  Consistent Backup Matters

Taking a snapshot of things that are moving (like your kids running around) is tricky. Your camera contains a lot of sophisticated technology to focus and take a sharp image and turn it into a single JPG file. So, we can simply pickup that file at the file system level, and move it to our cloud storage. When you recover a JPG file, you get the same sharp picture you snapped.

Like your kids running around, databases are always in motion too. Databases represent active data on your servers. Unlike a photo that is just a single file; databases are represented by multiple files and processes that are working together. Taking a file level backup of this data can easily result in a backed up image that does not represent your database at any one particular point-in-time. You may have some records that are partially written out to disk and partially in memory; so multiple files representing the database may not agree with each other in the backup image. Recovering your database from such a blurry image can result in unacceptable results for your business. You need special software to prepare the database and then take its snapshot at a particular point-in-time, i.e., a consistent backup, from which the database can be accurately restored.

Carbonite Enhanced Server Backup ensures consistent backups of your databases. We take a sharp snapshot of your database at the time a backup run is initiated (either as scheduled or on-demand). And, of course, when you restore from this snapshot the database works as expected.

Database Downtime – Not an Option

Whether your database is serving as the backbone of your ecommerce application or an internal application serving employees, its services are expected to be available 24x7. Typically you don’t have the luxury of a downtime window – during which either the database could be stopped entirely or the updates to the database can be paused.

Carbonite Enhanced Server Backup provides hot backup of your databases. In other words, our software does not shut down your database or even stop updates to your database during the backup process.

Complexity: It’s Our Problem, Not Yours

Various underlying methods for taking database backup images have lots of nuances and exceptions. For example, different database types and versions deal with their logs differently (dealing with database logs is a crucial part of taking a sharp snapshot I mentioned above). So, if you rely on a home-grown script, you would need to be on a constant treadmill of making changes to your script every time you deploy a new version of your database software, let alone change the database type completely.

Our engineers are on this constant treadmill for you – always looking out for nuances, exceptions, gotchas and optimization opportunities in the newest versions of database software from multiple vendors. Carbonite hides the complexity of backing up databases behind a very simple to use GUI. You simply tell us: what, where, when and how to back up your databases. We figure out the right process and underlying method to execute it for you.

In a next installment, I’ll dive into the range of configuration settings available with this new offering from Carbonite for our small business customers. In the meantime, if you questions about Enhanced Server Backup and if it’s right for your business, you can contact our Business Team at or 855-CARB-BIZ (855-227-2249).