Cloud Backups Explained added 02/12/2015

When we hear about Cloud Backups, often people don't understand exactly what is involved, also don't have an understanding about what the term "Cloud Backup" essentially means.

Let me explain.

"When you use a cloud backup service you are storing your files on a storage device somewhere via the internet"

Essentially what happens is you select the time you want to run a backup and the storage provider (with the help of their client software) will make a copy of your files and store them on their own servers. You can retrieve these files whenever you want from dates going back to your contracted retention period. The retention period is basically the amount of time you have requested the "cloud" copy of your files to be kept for. The longer you want the provider to keep them then generally the more you pay.

Some things to consider when using Cloud storage.

The first thing you have to take into account is the fact that your provider may have a copy of your files, but what happens if they have a complete system failure and are unable to recover any data?

"Ouch" You could sue them and spend time and money in the process OR, you could mitigate that risk by ensuring you can recover quickly. The only way you can do that is by ensuring you have another copy of the data.

"You do" you have the local copy and the cloud copy; your provider will probably have another replicated copy. The chances of all three failing at exactly the same time seem like the stuff of legends and it won't happen.

In my opinion the above is a scenario that is very unlikely to happen. All paid for backup services have additional redundancy build it so these things don't happen.

You could ensure that you backup plan accounts for all this but what would it mean:

You will have to run local backups to tape or disk. These would have to be stored off site and you would also need to keep Daily, Weekly and Monthly copies of these backups. This cost's money and will only work if a strict rota is adhered to, to ensure the data is safe.

For the large enterprise business's this is the way they work and they have strict policies and a specific role for personnel to make sure that it happens.

But for the SME time and money is essential, you may not want to spend on expensive backup hardware and reoccurring cost for media. Cloud backups in this scenario are ideal.

Limitations

You may want to take system state backups for easy server recovery. Don't bother over the cloud. The time is takes to retrieve the data you could probably have rebuilt the server from the ground up. The only real way for recover in this instance is to have local system state backups that you have easy access to.

Most providers offer a service where they will deliver your files on some kind of storage media the next day. However this is very expensive and not even a consideration for smaller businesses.

You internet speed is fundamental in your decision to use cloud backups, both for backups and restore. The slower it is then the longer it will take to backup your data. It will also take longer to retrieve your files. Not ideal if you have a large amount of data to recover as quickly as possible.

What Cloud Storage should I be using?

This depends on how much you want to pay for it against how you value your data.

It's worth checking if the provider encrypts your data. If they don't then I wouldn't bother. You may have sensitive data you don't want to get into the public domain.

Find out where they store your data?

Is there data backed up?

What is there policy about data loss?

How much will it cost me to get my data delivered on a storage media?

Don't be afraid of using cloud storage it's another means of recovering from data loss. "That can't be a bad thing".

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