The benefits and flexibility associated with Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) services are well known. But this same flexibility can make developing a cheap, effective EC2 backup strategy seem like a daunting task. With so many varying methods available for backing up your data, it can be difficult to determine which solution best fits your company’s needs. But don’t panic. In this blog, we’ll examine the most common EC2 backup strategies so that you can better identify which option is right for you. We’ll also discuss the benefits of using a third-party vendor to manage, automate, and streamline the backup process, allowing you to focus on your core business needs.
EC2 Backup Strategy Options: Snapshots Vs. AMI
AWS offers a wide range of backup and recovery tools. However, the service does not backup your data by default. Ultimately, you are still responsible. And when it comes to developing an EC2 backup strategy, your backup method will depend on your specific situation.
While there are many non-cloud solutions available for backing up your AWS data, they present a host of disadvantages including higher costs, cumbersome hardware requirements, and a greater risk of failure due to the centralized nature of traditional software. So for the purposes of this blog, we’ll focus on two common cloud-based solutions: EBS snapshots and AMIs.
If your EC2 instances are stored via Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), you’ll need to create snapshots. These snapshots are backups of Amazon EBS volumes redundantly stored via Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). At first, an exact copy of the volume is created. However, subsequent snapshots will only capture incremental block-level changes of the original. The result is a quick, efficient means for backing up and restoring your data. Snapshot copies can also be taken and copied to another AWS region of your choice, to help with disaster recovery. By making an extra copy in another region, you can prevent complete data loss in the event of a failure.
Amazon Machine Image (AMI)
An Amazon Machine Image (AMI) provides the information required to launch an EC2 instance. You specify an AMI when you launch an instance, and you can launch as many instances from the AMI as you need. An AMI is an encrypted machine image that contains all the information necessary to restore your data, including a template for the root volume for the instance (the operating system, application server, and applications, among other things), launch permissions, etc.
While both EBS snapshots and EC2 instance store AMIs have their strengths and weaknesses, in general, instance store-based AMIs are slower, less flexible, and more costly than their EBS counterparts.
But regardless of which method is right for you, automating the process to run at regular, predetermined intervals is essential. And since both methods utilize Amazon S3, which is natively API-based, software vendors such as CloudRanger are able to easily and directly integrate their backup applications in order to streamline the automation process and give you control over how and when your backups take place.
In-House Scripting Vs. Third-Party EC2 Backup Solution
Proper automation is a key component of any successful EC2 backup strategy. Having the piece of mind that comes with knowing your data is constantly protected allows you and your co-workers to focus on other, more pressing aspects of your business. However, when it comes to implementing automated backups, not all methods are created equal.
AWS grants users the capability to process and automate the backup process using their own in-house scripting. Depending on your situation, this method might be all that is necessary to automate your backup process. However, since there is no centralized backup management system native to AWS, in-house scripting can quickly become a laborious and time-consuming process should you need to scale up your data. And since one of the most useful features of AWS is the ability to quickly scale your data as needed, the inherent limitations of in-house scripting may prove to be counterproductive for many users.
Third-Party EC2 Backup Solutions
While creating a centralized backup management system from scratch is also an option, it can also prove to be expensive and time consuming, especially considering that many third-party providers such as CloudRanger have already developed the tools you need easily implement and manage your EC2 backup strategy. Using a service such as CloudRanger allow you to quickly schedule backups, manage retention and recover data, but it will also allow you to easily scale your AWS presence up or down without delay, allowing you to focus your attention on your core business needs rather than tedious scripting issues.
CloudRanger can help to fully automate your Amazon EC2 backup strategy from as little as $29/month.
CloudRanger allows you to easily schedule automated backups and retention periods of EC2instances and related volumes with snapshots and AMIs. We help your IT team schedule critical, repetitive AWS tasks, and save a ton of time! With an easy to use interface, managing your routine AWS tasks is simple. With our simple DevOps automation tool you can apply schedules to servers by instance ID or by tag.
Try CloudRanger for Free
Whether you are a small business, a medium business, or an enterprise user of Amazon Web Services, CloudRanger has features built for you. It’s easy to set up and get started, you can even manage multiple AWS accounts from one simple dashboard.
You can try CloudRanger for free, so why not check out our range of features and benefits for yourself?