Data Deduplication: The Ultimate Guide
We often hear about data deduplication when we browse through the collection of reviews about the best cloud backup service providers on the internet. But what exactly is data deduplication? The term is being repeatedly mentioned across various articles but no one seemed to explain data deduplication in its entirety. This is the reason why we have decided to create an article to better explain what data deduplication is and provide people answers with regards to its possible benefits. We will also discuss the different types and forms of data deduplication that can actually exist.
Overview of Data Deduplication
First and foremost, we should understand the difference between data deduplication and data compression. While both of the processes have the main objective of reducing the space that can be consumed by a particular file, document or any other data type, there is a big difference between the two methods with regards to handling the data storage space.
In data compression, the system tries to reduce the size of a particular file by removing the repeated data on the file that causes the issue of redundancy. I know it sounds confusing. We are all taught that each file or each document is a unique set of data. However, that particular assumption is no longer true if we look at the individual bit of data that forms part of the particular file.
If you explore every bit of data that compose a particular file, you can see that such a file has repeating patterns such as the spaces in between words. We all know for a fact that in order for a text file to be understandable to the human mind after being seen by the human eyes, spaces in between words are quite inevitable. These extra spaces in between words are the bits of data that are being removed in the process of data compression.
After the file size has been significantly reduced through data compression, an algorithm can actually convert the compressed data back to its original form during data retrieval and data recovery. Technically speaking, we can eventually consider data compression as another form of data deduplication. However, in today’s standards, data compression has already been considered as a separate process independent of the data deduplication.
On the other hand, in the process of data deduplication, it is the chunks or blocks of data that are being carefully examined to rule out the issue of redundancy. The data deduplication system tries to see whether a particular chunk of data has been changed or not. If it is changed, then the data block that has an associated change will be stored again in a computer data storage system. In this way, it will consume additional storage space because the changed data block will be stored again.
If a particular data block has no changes to it, then the portion of the file will not be stored again and will not eat more storage space. So regardless of how many spaces in between words exist in a particular text file, it will not matter during data deduplication as long as there are no changes to the document. The purpose of data deduplication is to eliminate redundancies on the copies of a particular file stored in a computer data storage system like in the cloud storage system or in a cloud-based online backup system. As much as possible, with data deduplication, only one copy of a particular file should exist in a cloud backup system and in all of the data centers associated with it.
4 Benefits of Data Deduplication
After hearing the difference between data compression and data deduplication, it is best to explore the benefits associated with the process being discussed. Here are 4 of the most compelling reasons why data deduplication is very helpful for the best cloud storage systems as well as the best cloud backup systems that people usually use.
Data Deduplication Benefit #1: It can significantly reduce the consumption of computer data storage.
Because of data deduplication, we can actually minimize the storage space that we consume in cloud storage systems an even in online backup systems. This is especially true in the case of word-based documents such as text files, PDF files, Microsoft Word, Microsoft, Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint. We don’t need to store extra copies of a file every time a document is edited or changed. It would be a waste of cloud backup space or cloud storage space if the system is not equipped with data deduplication.
There will always be only one full backup copy of a particular file. The rest will be incremental backups caused by the changes in the chunks or blocks of data in a particular file where the data deduplication process is supported. So if the document or if the file is unedited, there will be no additional incremental backups that will eat up a small amount of additional computer data storage space.
With data deduplication, storage efficiency is easily achieved. As a matter of fact, in one case study conducted by the Storage Networking Industry Association in 2008, the organization revealed that there will be approximately 80% storage space reduction if the data deduplication process is applied. This is primarily because of the fact that most files remain unedited and unchanged for a very long period of time.
Data Deduplication Benefit #2: Data deduplication can save more space than data compression.
While this may sound unconventional, this particular assertion holds true especially if we looked at it from a wider perspective. This is because the data deduplication process is actually not applied to pre-compressed data since it is of a different design. So in the long run, if there are many changes made to a particular file or document, then, the storage efficiency ratio will be larger for a file that has not yet undergone data compression.
However, there are certain cases that allow a normal file or document that has undergone a data deduplication process to undergo data compression afterwards. The data deduplication process should come first before data compression. This particular case can be found in the best cloud backup service providers that allow files and data backup to be downloaded and restored in a ZIP file which is a form of compressed data.
Data Deduplication Benefit #3: Faster data transmission is experienced.
Data deduplication is very important in geographical areas where the distance is far away from the existing data centers built by the best online backup service providers. If you already have tested around 30 cloud storage systems and approximately 20 cloud backup systems, you will definitely see a pattern with regards to data transmission.
You will be able to observe that the farther the data center from the geographical location where a file is being uploaded and downloaded, the slower data transmission is going to be experienced. Regardless of whether the internet speed that you have is faster than the worldwide average internet speed, the data transmission can still be slower than it should be. Aside from that, there are also countries that have a very low average internet speed. In these countries, there is also an issue of affordability whenever people want to upgrade the internet speed that they are getting.
These particular situations allow people to really appreciate the data deduplication process. Because there is a lesser volume of data that will be uploaded to the cloud whenever creating backups after undergoing data deduplication, the faster the process of data transmission will be. This means that all the succeeding data transfers (Incremental backup) associated with a particular file will be faster after it has been initially backed up (full backup).
Data Deduplication Benefit #4: Increased affordability of cloud backup subscription plans.
Because there is a lesser amount of data that needs to be stored because of the data deduplication process, you will need a lower amount of cloud backup space. If that is the case, then you can select a subscription plan that has a lower amount of cloud backup space. This, in turn, gives people more flexibility and increases affordability in the long run.
4 Types of Data Deduplication
Listed below are the 4 types of data deduplication processes.
Data Deduplication Type #1: Source deduplication / Client backup deduplication
Source deduplication is a type of data deduplication method wherein the particular process happens in the desktop client level of the local machines. This ensures that the data deduplication process has already removed redundancies through the file system where the file has actually originated.
Data Deduplication Type #2: Target deduplication
Target deduplication is a type of data deduplication method wherein the particular process happens in a special type of hardware that actually acts as a bridge in order to connect local computers (data sources) to the backup servers. This is the type of data deduplication being used if the changes made to a particular file are made on another computer. Such is the case in cloud storage systems that have the ability to sync files across multiple computers and multiple users.
Data Deduplication Type #3: Chunking (Block-level Deduplication)
This type of data deduplication works by comparing the changes in the blocks or chunks of data. Only the changed blocks will be stored again in the cloud backup system. File versioning is possible with this type of data deduplication.
Data Deduplication Type #4: File-level Deduplication / Single Instance Storage
This type of data deduplication works by storing an exact copy of a particular file only once. If part of the document is changed, then it is considered to be another document. This type of data deduplication is used for files that are never going to be edited and are being utilized by multiple users.