How to backup essential data but not the garbage

There’s lots of ways to sort out what to back up and what not to, but the goal should always be to back up everything that needs to survive a crash.

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Something as simple as how you tell your backup product which files and databases to backup can have a massive impact on your recoverability. Proper backup selection is essentially a balance between ensuring that everything that should be backed up is indeed backed up, while also trying not to backup worthless data.

Physical server inclusion

Virtually all backup products require some initial installation and configuration at the level of a physical server. This means that for any of the tactics mentioned in this article to work, one must first install the appropriate software and authorization on each physical server in the data center. This means every VMware or Hyper-V server (not to be confused with each VM on those servers), every physical UNIX or Windows server, and any cloud services that are being backed up. Someone must make that initial connection and authentication before the backup system can perform its magic.

Selective inclusion

The most common method of including files, objects, or databases in a backup system is to manually select them when configuring the backups of a given system. Here are three examples of selective inclusion:

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