January 29, 2021

Datto Inverse Chain Eliminates Backup Chain Dependency

By Andrew Burton

Datto’s Inverse Chain Technology is an efficient and resilient alternative to traditional incremental backup that does away with the traditional backup chain. It is designed to offer the fastest possible restore times, increase reliability, and keep capacity demands in check. 

Incremental backup has operated on the same basic principle since tape was the preferred target. First, a full backup is created. Subsequent backups copy only the data that has changed since that initial full. These incremental backups are fast and require minimal processing power, because you aren’t copying a whole lot of data. However, restores are another story.

In order to recover data, the backup system must rebuild a full backup from a chain of incrementals. That rebuild process can be slow, but that’s only part of the problem. What’s worse is that the full backup and every subsequent incremental have a dependent relationship. So, if one incremental is corrupt, all of the recovery points that follow it are unusable. Additionally, is no way to delete older incrementals; the only option is to consolidate them and start over.

How It Works

Datto’s Inverse Chain Technology provides an elegant solution to issues associated with traditional backup chains. Each time a snapshot-based incremental backup is taken, changes are replicated on the Datto device and to Datto’s cloud creating an up-to-date server “image” (i.e. a complete copy of the protected server, including data, OS, applications, settings, etc.) Instead of chains of dependent incrementals, Inverse Chain Technology stores every previous recovery point in an independent, fully constructed state, so there is no rebuild process when reverting to a previous point in time.

You might be thinking ‘doesn’t that require a ton of storage?’ Thankfully, no. Inverse Chain was engineered to keep capacity demands under control. Inverse Chain Technology uses ZFS’s “copy on write” capability, so each unique block of data is saved only once and is referenced by all of the restore points that use it. Also, since each point is completely independent you can delete older recovery points that are no longer necessary—further reducing capacity demands.

In the event of an outage on a primary server, Inverse Chain Technology allows you to spin up virtual machines on the Datto device or in Datto’s cloud very quickly, dramatically reducing RTO. It also allows you to create backups as often as every five minutes for low RPO. Finally, it reduces the amount of management associated with traditional incremental backup. Frequent pruning and regular full backups are no longer required to prevent the backup system from reaching full capacity. You can delete recovery points without ever having to reset the backup chain, and even maintain different sets of recovery points on the Datto device and in the Datto cloud. 

Interested in learning more about this innovative technology? Learn more about Datto’s Continuity solutions here


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