Before upgrading from a standard local backup setup, it is necessary to weigh up the pros and cons between physical media based off-site backup and cloud backup solutions. Running a backup solution inevitably adds financial overheads to the balance sheet, but if done conscientiously, could mean saving the company from permanent data loss and ruin.
This is according to Danie Marais, Founder of the software division within Redstor, a global provider of cloud backup services and data protection solutions.
Marais says it is important to choose solutions carefully and select an appropriate technology because this will have far-reaching implications for the business backup capability.
“From an off-site backup point of view, the main gain is that your backups are stored out of harm’s way. Since the object of backups is to create data redundancy in case of loss, due to say, fire, flood, theft, or negligence, off-site fulfils this purpose very well,” he says.
But, as is the case with most technologies, there are disadvantages including the fact that off-site backup storage cannot be used for online backups. “Online backups require a constant connection to the source storage media so that backups can be run at regular intervals.) This means that after every fresh backup, the data needs to be carried off to the off-site location (usually a branch office or a records management company),” Marais explains.
Restores are hampered because data needs to be fetched from the off-site location and plugged backed in at the source, he continues. “With storage devices being carted back and forth between storage locations, the risk of damaging the backups increases. If a data backup were to get damaged or lost along the way, additional replacement costs will be needed – not to mention the risk of incurring an outage between backup intervals that could result in permanent data loss,” he continues.
Backup from the cloud
Redstor says there is a growing community of users who love cloud backup and there are definite reasons why.
One reason is that cloud backups are inherently situated elsewhere which means that backups are no longer vulnerable to disasters and other causes of data loss that happen at the source.
“Cloud backups are ideal for use with scheduled backups. With a reliable cloud storage provider and suitable online backup software, backups can be performed at regular intervals and be transferred automatically over a WAN or internet connection,” says Marais.
“Cloud backup lends itself to synergy with incremental/synthetic full backups. These types of backups only transfer changed portions of files to the backup server resulting in lower bandwidth usage than, say, differential backups. As we’ve mentioned before, cloud backups are extremely reliable. Due to it being stored in a cloud environment, redundant drives compensate for possible hardware corruption and facilitates improved data integrity,” he explains.
In addition to the above, data is easily accessible at any time. “Multiple network and internet connections to the cloud backup storage facilitate reliable access from most devices,” says Marais.
Redstor warns clients to ensure that there is a secure agreement with a cloud storage provider in place. This will help avoid disappointment by having all expectations and capabilities are laid out clearly.
“Also, if a cloud storage provider doesn’t follow adequate data security practices, your data will be exposed to greater risk than with off-site backups. Cloud storage is usually multi-tenanted, and if badly secured, could leave your backups exposed to malware infections and snooping from other tenants,” Marais adds.
According to the company depending on the network connection with the cloud provider, very large data sets can take longer to restore than off-site backups. This is why cloud backups are better suited to an environment that requires many small restores. However, some cloud backup providers can provide a rapid courier of encrypted data to site on disk, eliminating this downside.
The selection of the right backup solution will have an impact on the bottom line and this is one area where clear strategy, forethought and caution is required.