The last time we talked about file server solutions using cloud technologies.
This time, I wanted to talk a bit about cloud solutions that can be utilised to backup your business.
I have designed and implemented many backup and recovery solutions for a large variety of customers – from pharmaceutical companies, smaller businesses and to even banks.
Of course each solution used different software depending on the needs of the client. However one thing was always in common – the fact that a GOOD backup/recovery solution needs to have TWO copies of a backup. One copy is local to computers/servers being backed up and the other is stored at a remote location.
The reason is that the local copy is used to recover with first as it is faster to do so, since it is already there locally and you do not need to wait for tape, CDROM, USB key or even the speed of the network/Internet before you can begin restoring.
The second copy of the backup, which is stored at a remote location exists to protect a business against disasters. So for example if a fire or theft occurs to the business, the local copy of the backup is gone, and you will need to revert to your second copy of backup to recover from.
Such a set up is best practice and covers all the bases when it comes to a good backup and recovery solution.
So how can cloud solutions be utilised for backups? Quite effectively….
The great thing about a cloud backup solution is that your offsite copy of data (your remote copy) can be created automatically. I have talked to so many businesses that complain about what a nuisance it is to remember to put a USB key or CDROM into the computer to create a backup copy and then having to give it to a staff member to take home with them.
A cloud backup solution eliminates this issue and can automate the entire process so that managing and ensuring that your business is backed up all the time no longer takes any time from anyone.
Cloud backup solutions should also be able to control the automatic creation of both local and remote copies of backups. Two questions are raised about this:
1) If a cloud backup solution sends backups to a remote destination, then can someone else read that data? – a security concern.
2) If a cloud backup solution uses an Internet conenction to send remote copies of backups – then wouldn’t that clog up the Internet connecton and slow down its speed for the other day to day tasks it is used for?
To address the first point, you need to ensure that the data being backed up is encrypted BEFORE being sent over the Internet. If this is done, then the data cannot be read without the encryption key. And this encryption key would be located on the computer being backed up (the client). Not all cloud backup solutions do this and it is a key feature that is needed.
Also, you need to know if your data can be read or not once it has reached the cloud provider’s data centre. Ideally, the data stays encrypted in the data centre. Some products would allow that the administrators of the cloud provider access the data. This can be good and bad. It is good as they would be able to provide support when needed, but it is also bad as it means another party is privy to the data. Depending on what is being backed up, this could be a security risk. For example, businesses in the financial industry would not want their data being read by anyone for obvious reasons.
A good way to protect against this situation is to have a second layer of security – where the encruption key itself is protected. That way, not even the cloud provider can read/access the data.
To address the second point above, some cloud backup solutions are advanced enough and backup only the difference in files every time a backup runs. So the very first backup would take a while to run, but once that first backup is complete all other backups would take minimal time as only the difference since the last backup is sent across the Internet. Also, you should be able to control the speed that your backup runs at so that your Internet connection is not clogged up and effects your day to day business. Although this should only be needed for the first backup.
One other thing to keep in mind if you choose to use a cloud backup solution is that cloud backup will use a bit of your Internet upload allowance. A lot of plans out there allow for unlimited uploads, but there are a lot as well that do not. So when choosing this type of solution, make sure that you have enough upload allowance, to save you from having your ISP throttle the speed of your connecton until the current month runs out.
Ensuring you have up to date and successful backups all the time is like an insurance policy for all your data. Like all insurance, you won’t really need/benefit from it all the time. But when the time comes when you do need it, it will be the best thing you had.
FYI – We at Infraworx have a cloud backup solution that caters for all the situations mentioned in the article. To find out more, just send me a message in Linkedin, or go the this link to read more about it and/or send us a request to contact you.
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