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Grandfather-Father-Son Backup Strategy Explained

May 24, 2024

Written By:

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Rob Stevenson


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Whether it’s customer information, financial details, or operational records – your data is the lifeblood of your business operations.

Making sure that this critical data is protected and easily recoverable at all times should be a top priority. One reliable way to backup and protect your data is using the Grandfather-Father-Son (GFS) strategy.

This tried and tested approach simplifies data backup and reduces storage needs by using a tiered backup system.

This article will explore the specifics of the GFS backup method, explaining how it works, why it’s a popular choice for businesses, and some of its drawbacks.

How do Grandfather-Father-Son (GFS) backups work?

To understand the effectiveness of the GFS approach, it’s important to first grasp how it works.

Think of your data as part of a family, where each generation has a specific role in its protection. Here’s a breakdown of the responsibilities of each generation, from oldest to youngest:

1. Grandfather (monthly backups)

As the family’s oldest member, the grandfather performs backups at longer intervals of once a month. The data from these backups is securely stored off-site as a safety net in case of data loss.

2. Father (weekly backups)

As the middle generation, the father backs up data more often than the grandfather, usually every week. This is an added layer of security that fills the space between monthly and daily backups.

3. Son (daily backups)

Finally, the son is responsible for daily backups. These frequent backup cycles capture the latest changes and updates to your information, keeping them safe and easily recoverable.

The advantages of the GFS backup strategy

The GFS backup system is popular with organisations who want reliable data protection. Here’s how this approach successfully meets this need:

1. Complete data protection

GFS guarantees that data is backed up daily, weekly, and monthly. This comprehensive approach reduces the risk of data loss at any moment in time.

2. Easy data management

Because GFS backups are arranged into daily, weekly, and monthly schedules, the clear structure of the strategy makes ongoing monitoring and data management simple and hassle-free.

3. Efficient storage use

As part of the GFS strategy, older backups are periodically replaced to optimise storage space, making sure that only the most relevant data is retained at all times.

4. Lower risk of data corruption

Storing backups at different times and in various locations (eg, off-site for monthly backups) reduces the risk of data corruption affecting all versions of your backups. This increases the overall resilience of your data.

5. Cost-savings

Daily incremental backups capture updates without taking up too much space, while weekly and monthly backups offer complete snapshots without needing constant full backups. All this helps you save on costs.

6. Compliance and regulatory benefits

Depending on your industry, there may be regulations requiring specific data retention periods. The GFS backup strategy helps meet these requirements by keeping a systematic and traceable backup history.

The disadvantages of the GFS backup strategy

While the Grandfather-Father-Son backup strategy has many benefits, there are also several disadvantages to consider. These include:

1. Complexity

Dealing with multiple generations of data can be tricky, especially as the volume of data grows. This often calls for backup software and extra administrative work to keep everything in check.

2. Resource intensive

Managing multiple generations can be demanding on resources like CPU, memory, and network bandwidth.

3. Longer backup times

Creating many backup generations, especially full backups, can extend the backup process. This could affect system availability and business operations, particularly when uptime is crucial.

4. Data retention challenges

Deciding how long to keep each backup can be challenging. Keeping backups for too long can be expensive (and potentially illegal), but not keeping them long enough can limit the amount of data you can recover.

5. Complex recovery process

Having many backups to pick from can make the recovery process harder and more time-consuming. Administrators need to choose the proper backup and confirm its integrity before starting the recovery.

6. Dependency on backup software

The success of the GFS backup strategy depends heavily on the backup software you use. It might not work as effectively if the software is limited or can’t facilitate the GFS method.

Closing thoughts

The Grandfather-Father-Son (GFS) backup method categorises backups into different generations to ensure comprehensive data protection while saving on storage space.

Although this approach offers advantages like better data security, easier management, and cost efficiency, it also poses challenges like complexity, retention challenges, and finding the right backup software.

But with proper planning and selecting the right tools, your organisation can effectively use the GFS backup strategy to maintain data integrity and accessibility, making it a preferred option for many businesses.

Master Grandfather-Father-Son backups with BackupVault

At BackupVault, our Acronis platform fully supports the Grandfather-Father-Son (GFS) backup strategy, offering comprehensive data backups taking place on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis.

Plus, recovering data is simple and hassle-free. Our intuitive interface allows you to easily navigate through backups and restore specific files, folders, or complete systems with just a few clicks.

BackupVault combines enterprise-class UK cloud backup technology with 24/7 customer support, removing the stress from data protection.

Sign up for a 14-day free trial and experience the BackupVault difference for yourself.