Cloud backup is also known as online backup. With the term 'cloud' being used more and more to define services and storage hosted on remote servers that could be located anywhere, the term cloud backup is coming to the fore.
What is cloud backup?
Cloud backup is a method of backing up data where a copy of the data is typically sent over the internet to servers located off-site. Other forms of backup that are not based in the cloud include:
- Tape streaming backup devices (on-premise backup)
- Backing up to external hard drive (on-premise backup)
- Backing up to network attached storage (on-premise backup)
- DVD writing backup (on-premise backup)
- Backing up to memory stick (on-premise backup)
How does cloud backup work?
Cloud backup has been made simpler and simpler. It typically entails installing a software program on your server, then selecting the data that you want to back up. The data that you want to back up to the cloud could be in the form of folders (directories), files or databases.
Once your data has been selected, the first backup is pushed to the cloud. This can take the form of a snapshot backup (read more about snapshot backups here) or a full online cloud backup. The first backup typically involves all of the selected data being compressed and encrypted and sent to the cloud servers.
A backup schedule is then set up, which determines when your data will be backed up. Cloud backups after the first backup will typically only send incremental or changed data up to the cloud servers. This means that the cloud backup is incredibly efficient in using bandwidth.
So, after the cloud backup service has been set up, it will run automatically; sending incremental backups to the cloud servers based on the schedule and data selected for cloud backup.
There are numerous differences between cloud backup and on-premise backup:
- Cloud backup is managed by cloud backup software after setup and simply requires an internet connection to run.
- Cloud backup stores all the selected data off-site, thereby ensuring recoverability without the need to take devices off-site.
- Because of its simplicity (or perceived simplicity) cloud backup reduces the need for IT resources in terms of people time.
- Cloud backup reduces the need for certain types of IT equipment and infra-structure.
- Cloud backup is extremely efficient in that after the first backup, only incremental backups are sent over the internet.
- Your cloud backup is typically stored in an encrypted and compressed form, making it extremely secure against data theft, which is mostly done by employees moving on.
How do you set up cloud backup?
Setting up your cloud backup service is really simple. First, you'll need to register with a cloud backup service. Often these companies offer a free trial period. The next step is to install the cloud backup software on the desired machines. Then select the data to back up and schedule your backups for whatever frequency you require.
You're now ready to run your first cloud backup. This may take a while depending on the amount of data selected and your bandwidth. Allow subsequent backups to run as per the set schedule.
It's important to review your backup logs and data selections on a monthly basis to ensure that everything is still okay. Complete a full disaster recovery exercise to ensure that you can recover from a disaster at least once every six months.
How do you choose a cloud backup service provider?
Entrusting your valuable data to a cloud backup service provider is not a decision to be taken lightly. You need to find a cloud backup service provider with the following credentials:
- A reputable, known brand and company.
- A company that can provide ongoing support for their cloud backup service.
- A local company. More and more laws are being passed stating that company backup data must be kept in the same country as the company.
Who needs cloud backup?
All businesses need to back up their valuable corporate data. Many businesses believe that their current backup methods are adequate, but the statistics show the failure rate of companies attempting to restore data from on-premise backups to be extremely high.
This is typically due to human error; someone didn't change the tapes, someone didn't take the devices, tapes or media off-site, someone didn't correctly configure the backups, and so on.
In addition, the security risk of unencrypted, easily available backup media is alarming in this world of data theft, identity theft and unscrupulous competitors.
Other risks include not having redundant backup devices. Even if the backups are being done correctly, if the backup device is lost in the disaster and there is no replacement with which to restore the data, you can't restore your data.
All of the above factors indicate that cloud backup is absolutely essential for all critical data in a business.
How much does cloud backup cost?
The costs of cloud backup are based on a number of factors, such as the volume of data, the license costs of the software and the level of support received. Typically, with cloud backup one has a start-up fee, especially if there is a large initial backup that needs to have a snapshot backup where external hard drives are couriered between the business premises and cloud backup service provider. Then the costs are an ongoing monthly fee based on the volume of data stored. In most cases, support is free and a company can cancel the service with one month's notice.
Looking at all of the information above, it is fairly obvious why a business would want to utilise cloud backup services as opposed to on-premise backup for their business critical data.