Data loss is like death: it can happen anytime anywhere, in a flash. Computers can conk out owing to hardware failure, lightning strikes, the user doing something stupid or for a myriad of other reasons. Every organization takes pain to store its data on a backup, but on-site backups may not exactly be safe in the first place, as the backup disks could also get destroyed in fires and other physical disasters. With the cloud having arrived, the way forward is secure offsite backups in the cloud.
Cloud backups offer a better deal in more ways than simply mitigating the geographical risks. How so?
The backup is automatic and it delivers freedom from the manual drag of taking backups in CDs or taps. The costs become predictable and controllable, the process is scalable and data restoration becomes uber-fast. The process is easy to set-up and users can dip into the service providers’ expertise, resources and the latest infrastructure. There is also the possibility of hiving off the unproductive drag of regulatory compliance to the service provider. Overall, the process of backups becomes more risk free, and more reliable.
However, not all cloud backups are equal. What matters is choosing the right cloud backup provider.
The entire point of backing up data on the cloud is to ensure security. If the cloud provider itself remains vulnerable to on-premises hazards, then cloud backup offers the worst of both worlds: loss of control over the data without any perceptible reduction of risks.
Make sure that the selected cloud provider:
- Offers a minimum of 256-bit SSL encryption when data moves between the on-premises server and cloud servers
- Has robust security in place to protect their physical servers
- Has Multiple data centers, preferably across the world, to mitigate on-premises risks such as fires, lightning and other disasters
- Has a good track record in safeguarding the data from hackers. If there is something worse than losing data, it is hackers stealing the data.
A big reason for migrating to the cloud is cost advantage. However, it is not always a good idea to opt for the cheapest provider. Rather seek value for money. Compare different providers with the same services/functionalities offered and the price they charge for each such offering.
Specifically seek out
Whether the package offers limited or unlimited storage and whether ‘unlimited’ is literally unlimited. Seek out the cost per gigabyte of storage to facilitate comparisons.
- Cost of storing data from multiple computers
- Additional administrative charges
- On the flip side, also seek out transparency in pricing. Hidden costs and additional charges in the fine print may make the advertised charges considerably less than what shows up in the bill.
Success with cloud backup comes from selecting the right capacity and capability. Backup service provider Carbonite estimates that one in five small businesses do not know how much data they have in the first place, so they probably get it wrong.
- A comprehensive data audit to help identify critical data worth backup and eliminate the flab is the need of the hour before opting for backup.
- Confine the backup to not just data, but also any business critical applications that cannot be replaced.
Frequency of backup. Some providers back up at specified intervals, others back up whenever changes are made.
- Whether it is possible to customize the backup
- Speed of backup
- How quickly and easily can data be restored when required
At the end of the day, there is no magic wand or even an one-size fits all solution. The onus is on the end user to determine the features that they really require, and make trade-offs. What works best depend son the unique set-up of each organization.