Understanding Immutable Backups – Full Guide

Understanding Immutable Backups - Full Guide 49

With the rising threat of cybercrime, companies must pay attention to the way they store and back their data up to ensure safety. Data backup for any business, nothing matters more than handling data safely in order to maintain consumer confidence.

Loss of data can have serious legal, ethical, and financial consequences for big companies. This explains why companies shouldn’t rely on traditional data backups alone. Rather, they should reinforce them to ensure their data remains secure.Immutable data storageoffers a safer and secure way to keep protecting data reserves.

Defining Immutable Backups

Immutable Backups

 In very basic terms, immutable backups refer to copies of data that cannot be tampered with, changed, or altered for a predetermined period of time. Companies use this type of Immutable data storageto secure data backups, effectively guarding them against ransomware attacks. Immutable infrastructure is required to secure data backups.

This infrastructure consists of servers that can’t be edited, updated, changed, or deleted after they’ve been deployed. To update the data files stored, the design of the servers requires users to create new servers that integrate the desired changes then decommission existing servers. This isn’t the case with mutable servers. The latter are designed to allow alterations like deployment of new codes, downgrades, and upgrades after deployment.

How Do Immutable Backups Work?

 Immutability can be applied to backups that are stored on conventional platforms such as SSDs and disks. But increasingly, cloud storage is becoming the most preferred data storage for companies, governments, and organizations. This is because cloud servers offer better protection and are easy to use.

In cloud storage, immutable data backups are protected through the write-once-read-many (WORM) techniques. This means users can determine how long they want their files stored at the time of saving files. Data can be preserved in WORM format indefinitely. Once the files are uploaded, an immutability setting is activated to lock the files in place for a specified period of time. Once this is done, the files cannot be altered, edited, or modified.

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Types of Immutable Backups

There are five common types of immutable backups. 

1. Versioned Data Backups

This form of immutable backup generates different versions of the same data files. Each copy is preserved in the backup, ensuring that earlier versions are preserved and can be recovered any time. The multiple versions make it easy to audit data changes. This allows companies or organizations to compare past versions and make restorations where necessary.  Versions data backups are ideal for storage of critical data that are updated frequently like software projects, source codes, and financial records.

2. Continuous Data Protection (CDP)

This type of immutable storage backs data in a continuous and consistent manner. It provides granulated data changes throughout. Any changes made in the primary storage are copied and saved in the backup storage automatically. This ensures that the most recent versions of stored data are available at any given time. CDP backups are implemented in intervals of minutes or seconds.

3. Write-Once-Read Only (WORM)

This form of backup generates data copies that cannot be erased or changed. WORM is mostly used to preserve and protect sensitive data like legal, medical, regulatory, and financial records. Data is written on backup disks like magnetic tape, DVD or CD once. After that, it becomes read-only.

4. Time-Based Data Snapshots

This type of immutable backup utilizes snapshots taken at defined intervals through a delta algorithm to store data.  Each snapshot contains changes that have been made on data files since the previous backup was affected. Time-based snapshots work best where storage systems are accessible via multiple virtual machines. The snapshots are taken regularly to allow for data restoration.

5. Cloud-Based Data Storage

This immutable backup solution uses remote cloud servers to store data. It ensures that users can access stored data from anywhere.  Cloud backups are often scalable, which means companies can scale their data storage space storage needs up or down. Majority of cloud-based immutable data backups offer robust security like multi-factor authentication and encryption as well as flexible pricing model

Why Do Companies Need Immutable Backups?

 Immutable backups provide individuals, businesses, organizations, and governments with the safety net they need to protect their data. But their benefits transcend the additional protection they provide against ransomware attacks. Here are broader benefits that explain why companies need immutable backups:

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1. Data Compliance

One of the reasons why companies, governments, or organizations need immutable backups is to comply with data regulations. Numerous organizations such as those operating in the finance sector, healthcare, and data protection space are required to comply with strict data protection laws. These laws require them to purge their records regularly and adhere to strict retention policies. The use of immutable storage makes it easier for them to adhere to data regulations by providing them with safe, and easy to access spaces to store data files.

2.Data Security and Consistency

Immutable backups apply the copy-on-write technique to secure data. This technique involves saving current data before changing or developing a new version. This means that when changes are made to a block of data, original data is not overwritten. Instead, the system creates a duplicate set of data and keeps a new version in a different location.

As such, changes cannot be made on current data without generating new versions. This ensures that existing data is not corrupted. By applying the copy-on-write technique, consistency and security are maintained in immutable data backups.

3. Protection Against Ransomware

When it comes to protecting your data against ransomware attacks, immutable storage is highly effective. Cybercriminals target data backups to cripple operations and prevent recovery. But with immutable backups, you have a clean copy of data that you can restore immediately if a ransomware attack compromises your systems. 

Although traditional backups may offer a certain level of protection, hackers can add or delete files in these backups once they access the system, making it challenging to differentiate between original versions and corrupted versions.  This isn’t the case in immutable backups. Since the backups cannot be deleted or altered, original finals remain intact following a breach.


Immutable backups use complex technology that prevent alteration, deletion, and overwriting of protected data files. Companies that invest in immutable backups are able to secure critical data by preventing loss and corruption. This enables them to remain competitive in their industries while maximizing their returns on investment.


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