Some estimates suggest that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day by internet users worldwide.1 Most businesses are only dealing with a fraction of that, but there’s no denying that the amount of data being generated is growing across the board. For IT professionals, this has increased the challenges around not only storing and utilising, but backing up valuable data.
Implemented correctly, cloud technology makes it possible to create a robust data backup strategy that protects businesses’ mission-critical data, even at high volumes. However, there are also drawbacks to cloud adoption that need to be considered.
That’s why this article will delve into the specific advantages and disadvantages of cloud backup to help you determine whether it’s right for your organisation. Let’s get started.
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What is cloud backup?
Also referred to as online backup or remote backup, backing files up to the cloud involves transferring copies of files, applications, or a database to a secondary, offsite location. The intention behind this, and one of the benefits of cloud backup, is to ensure that in the event of a breach, failure, or natural disaster, information can be restored without any worry of data loss.
Most cloud backup services operate on a yearly or monthly subscription basis, first coming into prominence as an option for home offices and everyday individuals wanting to back up their personal devices.
Today, however, online backup services are a common part of data management for many enterprises, from small and medium-sized businesses to larger corporations.
How does it work?
A cloud backup is simply the structured copying of data into a separate, third-party-hosted cloud-based server. This is accomplished through two main steps:
- Cloud backup software is generally installed in an IT environment, for example, a server
- A copy of the data is then created and stored by the cloud backup provider on their server.
The advantages of cloud backup
Perhaps the most well-known benefit of cloud backup is how straightforward it is. In addition to this simplicity, there is a range of other benefits that cloud backup can provide to businesses. From cost-effectiveness to data security, we’re going to run through the highlight reel of cloud-based data backup solutions.
One of the most significant benefits of cloud backup is just how much more cost-effective it is than onsite data centres. With cloud backup, there is no need to invest in the expensive infrastructure required with backup hardware, disks, and servers — not to mention the space and added upkeep this would all require.
An investment like that can be a huge obstacle to smaller businesses, especially. Instead, most cloud storage providers offer a pay-as-you-go model that allows you to pay only for what you need. This limits the threat of overspending on something your business doesn’t need yet, while also providing room for your backup service to grow as the business does.
Unlike in-house backup solutions, the advantage that cloud storage offers is easy scalability. Growing volumes of data can be an absolute headache if you’re trying to back it all up on-site. Not only does it require time to expand existing servers, but money too. Cloud storage on the other hand can accommodate data volume increases without any of that hassle for an IT department – it’s just a matter of upgrading your storage plan.
For businesses with rapidly growing data volumes, this is a huge advantage. Things can change quickly, and scaling up your data storage centre shouldn’t have to be a concern when a cloud storage provider could do it for you.
Security is perhaps the driving concern behind doing a backup in the first place. No business wants to have to deal with a virus or ransomware attack that results in critical data loss. Backing up offsite, on a separate network, is one of the most effective ways to protect backed-up data against threats like this.
Security breaches aren’t just stressful, they’re expensive. Storing data on a third-party hosted cloud-based server not only ensures better data protection, but it also means less time, money, and resources being spent on repairing costly security breaches.
Added to that is the protection of your data against physical security threats such as theft or natural disaster. If the business’s offices are compromised, a backup on cloud storage will still be protected.
With most businesses these days working at least semi-remotely, it makes no sense for data access to be tied to a physical location. As long as you’re connected to the internet, the benefits of cloud backup are that you have 24/7 access to data from anywhere and on a wide range of devices. It doesn’t matter if someone’s travelling with just a tablet on hand, if they have decent internet connectivity, they can still access cloud backup and recovery.
This makes working remotely far easier and gives businesses added assurance so that, as we experienced not too long ago if a global pandemic prevents people from going into the office, critical data can still be accessed.
If you’ve ever had a glimpse into an on-site data centre, you will know the sheer amount of maintenance they require from IT teams. With cloud-based storage, all that work is managed by a service provider instead. They monitor and maintain servers, keeping an eye on upgrades needed or any other technical concerns.
The benefits of cloud backup in this regard are two-fold:
- Fewer worries, time, and resources are spent on ongoing maintenance
- Service providers offer modern, high-tech infrastructure to store the server where data is backed up, providing assurance mitigating the chances of data loss.
The disadvantages of cloud backup
As with almost any evolving technology, there can also be some disadvantages to utilising a cloud backup approach. It’s important for businesses to be aware of issues around connectivity, control, and data volumes upfront so that they can pick the best solution for them.
A cloud service will always require a good internet connection for backup and recovery to be completed without interruption. The worry with this is that if you or your service provider experiences internet connectivity issues, you will not be able to access or perform backups.
Added to this, backing up large amounts of data also runs the risk of slowing down the network. Depending on a businesses’ internet quality, this can be a significant disadvantage to cloud storage.
While cloud backup services reduce the burden on IT teams in terms of general maintenance, the drawback to having your data stored on an external, third-party server is that it limits direct control over the data. Checks need to be performed to ensure that the cloud backup services meet compliance requirements and that their capabilities in terms of storing, securing, and restoring data are all up to scratch.
Though cloud backup solutions are often a cost saver, those costs can rise significantly if you need to back up large amounts of data. Most cloud service providers offer unlimited bandwidth, but it’s by no means a given.
Many vendors have limited bandwidth allowances and will charge for exceeding them. Businesses with already high, and continually increasing, data volumes can be placed at a serious disadvantage with this.
Getting started with cloud backup
Doing business in a complex and demanding environment requires comprehensive solutions. When it comes to cloud backup, the limitations are defined by who you choose to work with — putting together an effective solution is challenging and time-consuming.
Service providers like Nexstor can help businesses navigate the technology landscape and identify a solution that meets their needs. We work to harness a range of vendors and create personalised IT solutions that help businesses back up their data in line with their own specific requirements.
For more details on how we can help you move your backup infrastructure into the 21st century, get in touch with us today.
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