In a modern business environment, data is everything. Information about customers, projects, and personal data – all these have to be stored and protected. That's why you probably have at least one backup in place. What if the human factor or hardware suddenly fails and the backup can't save critical files? That's where cloud backup comes in. It protects your data from accidental deletion. What online backup services are out there, and what are the pros and cons?
Table of contents:
- Why would you need an online backup service?
- What is an online backup service?
- What is Cloud Backup and Recovery?
- Key features of online backup services
- What are the benefits and drawbacks of online data backup systems?
- How does cloud data protection work?
- Cloud backup methods vs. traditional backup
Why would you need an online backup service?
Many organizations produce, store, and process huge volumes of data. Mostly very sensitive. It's especially important for the fintech industry, which relies on confidentiality and governmental oversight. With transferring data between various companies, subsidiaries, and even geographical locations, the level of complexity becomes substantial. So does the risk of accidental deletion. Among others, that is. Here are some most common challenges:
- keeping data consistency and integrity is difficult;
- on-premise and infrastructure access, even among qualified staff, creates risks – followed by policies, restrictions, levels of accessibility, and other factors, it can lead to accidental storm and data loss;
- inconsistent and varied data security models, alongside with shared responsibility model present in online backup services, create continuous data protection challenges (not to mention additional backup process policies).
Under these circumstances, a continuous backup policy is a good idea. Cloud backup, as well as additional, internally implemented backup software, is a must.
What is an online backup service?
In a nutshell: an online backup service is a set of data storage and (sometimes) security measures. They are designed to protect stored cloud backup, as well as data moving in and out of an online backup environment. Stored data is called "data at rest," and moving data is known as "data in motion". All should be protected at all times, especially if there are incremental backups, made continuously during the day.
The more you store and update, the higher the risk of deletion of other forms of failure. That's why an online backup service offers a piece of mind. You can work on projects, copy data and even lose it. Disaster recovery will help you get back.
Cloud servers work 24/7, and downtime is usually 0,01% for maintenance purposes. Storage costs are there, nothing's free, but the ability to recover data – and sometimes even critical system files from your application – is worth the investment.
What is Cloud Backup and Recovery?
Cloud Backup and Recovery (CBR) is a form of online backup service. With it, you can not only store all the data in the company but also restore data. Rapid recovery procedures are available to bring back and download files if you need emergency access. This is a safety net that every company needs for business continuity.
There are three types of cloud backup:
- Full backup. This model provides the highest level of protection. Full backup copies every single file every time the procedure is launched. Although it is crucial to protect critical data, in the real world, most companies won't make a full backup or cloud backup very frequently. It's time-consuming and requires a lot of data storage capacity. Even enterprise-level companies can't afford unlimited storage.
- Incremental backup. This form backs up the data that has been changed, altered, updated, or removed since the last backup. Not the full backup, just a regular one. This method lets you save time but it also complicates a complete restore. Why? If any backup increment is lost or damaged, a full restoration will not be possible. Incremental is an ordinary form of cloud backup; it uses fewer resources.
- Differential backup. This type is similar to incremental backup. This is only about the data that has been changed. The difference? Differential backups work only with those files that were updated since the last full backup. This method is great for solving issues that might happen with incremental backups.
Key features of online backup services
There are a few features of continuous backup that are worth mentioning.
- Getting data in and out of the cloud with a physical device. It's important because you have the option to use initial backups and delivery of restore data via physical disk. That minimizes initial backup and restore times. The upload speed of files is also a valid point here.
- Encryption of data in transit and in the cloud. It prevents access to the data by the cloud provider staff. It also limits threats from unauthorized users.
- Data deduplication. Relevance? It reduces storage costs. You can store data from unlimited devices, bringing the overall partition size to enormous weight. Cloud backup is easy and seamless, yet critical data should be handled with care. Aside from strain on system resources, duplication negatively impacts bandwidth. Source-side deduplication reduces bandwidth requirements and relieves infrastructure.
- Bandwidth. Here throttling and scheduling are used to minimize the impact on users.
- Compliance. You want to make sure that your cloud provider has cloud servers and cloud storage infrastructure ready. Here the SAS 70/SSAE 16 Type II compliance auditing statement (it's not a certificate) is really important. It ensures that cloud backups can be operated by a cloud storage provider that has a state-of-the-art control system in place. It's crucial for both public companies and industries with strong regulatory environments.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of online data backup systems?
As always, there are pros and cons. Overall, these systems and businesses are for everybody. Especially small businesses that can't afford expensive solutions and maintain costly infrastructure on-premises. Cloud storage and backup software guarantee business continuity for everybody, no matter the size. Even with accidental data loss, your company will get back up with disaster recovery procedures.
The benefits of cloud servers and online data loss protection:
- Recovery times are fast. Every cloud provider has dedicated teams for infrastructure services. If something goes wrong, these people react immediately. Do you have a team on a payroll that is ready to watch your hardware 24/7?
- Efficiency and reliability. Cloud providers use state-of-the-art technology, such as disk-based backup, data compression, encryption, data deduplication, server virtualization, storage virtualization, and application-specific protection that can be identified in SSAE-16 certified data centers. Additionally, users don't have to worry about technology upgrades, migrations, or software and hardware obsolescence. Cloud backup and cloud storage for that matter, are designed around seamless operations. Simple as that.
- Savings from scalability. Cloud backup can be low-cost, especially for smaller companies that don't need a lot of cloud storage. Cloud backup management using a service provider is easier because the provider handles the management. Moving backups to the cloud can provide an air gap arrangement that shields mission-critical data and systems from cyber attacks such as phishing and ransomware because files are off-site.
- Strong protection. And since we are on the topic of security... Cloud backup can protect edge devices such as laptops or tablets that aren't part of an on-premises backup arrangement. To achieve that, it uses identified backup requirements and frequency of data retrievals. Cloud repositories can also replace or supplement the need for tape vaulting, based on a cost analysis.
- Consolidation of data. The modern size of cloud servers, and even single physical discs, offer vast amounts of storage capacity. You can consolidate your cloud servers' assets. From local on-side locations, and globally. That way you can ensure that disruptions won't disrupt your business. Especially with full backup scheduled to run in an optimized time frame.
Online data backup systems have also disadvantages:
- The need to ensure data security. Once you give the control over to the provider, it's up to him to protect what's yours. You have to make sure that in order to restore data, both cloud servers and backup software are credible and up to the task. Not to mention infrastructure and internal procedures. Fortunately, today we have three leading vendors (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform) that have years of experience on the market. It's up to little guys to prove the rationale of choosing their alternative.
- The potential of service discontinuation. Again, we wouldn't be having this discussion over the offer from major players. They are here to stay, no question about it; cloud backup is also very profitable. Discontinuation is not real in the long, foreseeable future. Other companies have to prove they have a solid business model and foundations to be considered.
- Size limitations. Depending on bandwidth availability, organizations might have a threshold for the amount of data that can be sent daily to the cloud. These limitations can have an effect on backup strategies in which data and applications must be retrieved quickly. Bandwidth used for backups is often a major issue for large IT departments. The amount of data to be backed up can be reduced using various methods such as data deduplication. Backup teams might elect to move only certain data sets to a cloud repository as a way to compensate for bandwidth limitations and reduce costs.
How does cloud data protection work?
The client software application is the center of cloud backup services. It’s run on a schedule defined by customer’s requirements and previously agreed upon level of services.
Here’s an example. If the customer wants daily backups, then the application gathers, compresses, and transfers encrypted data to the cloud servers every 24 hours. The service provider may only run incremental backups. That will reduce the amount of consumed bandwidth. It will also shorten the time needed to transfer files.
The protection of an organization’s data is crucial. That’s why cloud backup services include the software and hardware for the job. Including Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server, two leading solutions. Whether you use your own application for backups or the cloud backup services provider has its own software, your organization will use the same application to restore backed-up files.
Restorations can be run based on the file-by-file policy, by volume, or through the full restoration of the complete backup. A more popular method is granular file-by-file restoration. It allows organizations to quickly recover individual lost or damaged files. It's also about time optimization: it's quicker, plus you don't risk restoring entire volumes.
If the amount of data is very big, the cloud backup service might transfer the data to a different storage array. After that, the customer can plug it into his servers and get the data.
Cloud backup methods vs. traditional backup
Backup software, hardware, and procedures implemented by cloud vendors are constantly equated to traditional methods of securing critical data. With the right tools, rapid recovery is possible in both situations, although not guaranteed in most instances.
If you have important files in your company (who doesn't?) you can still create copies on your secondary device or by using local file servers. Sadly, they can't hold a candle to superior solutions.
Cloud migration is easy. Also, data management is easy. You can dive into this cloud migration report for details. Also, local file servers are good for quickly dumping critical data but not to make sure that this critical data is safe in the long run. The cloud offers a safety net designed around cost-effectiveness and scalable capacity. Online backup, as well as cloud computing services, took the industry by storm in the last decade.
There are many reports on online backup global market size, impact, and figures. We can take a look at the one from Mordor Intelligence, for example. The largest market is still North America but with the Asia Pacific region growing exponentially.
That's the power of the online safety net. Availability from almost any given point on the planet. From multiple devices. On demand. With unlimited storage options at your disposal and powerful applications that can go along with it. Don't believe us, take a look at our cloud-related case studies.
Do you have an idea for another project? Contact us. Keep data safe and expand your business with ease.