Jan Brass Takes a Hard Look at the Cloud

Are Cloud Backups Sufficient?

Are Cloud Backups Sufficient?Given the blistering pace of growth in the cloud technology sector, it is not surprising that many individuals and enterprises harbor mistaken assumptions regarding what the cloud can and cannot do for a business. For instance many managers continue to doubt cloud security even though most cloud service providers have better protection in place than the average non-technology focused company.

On the other hand, some people go to the other extreme and hope that they can solve any IT problem by using the cloud. The best example can be seen when considering the question of backing up important business data.

The Cloud Works

This is an area where cloud services have done wonders for enterprises that do not have the expertise or resources to invest in comprehensive backup solutions. Backing up to the cloud offers companies the chance to secure data on a real-time basis while retaining previous versions in case it is necessary to rollback in case of corrupt or lost data.

Cloud backups have the added advantage of storing data in another location, away from where it was originally created. It means the data stays secure even if an emergency such as a fire or earthquake threatens the physical equipment. Enterprise applications, software tools and other essential programs can also be backed up along with business data.

Except When It Doesn’t

Nevertheless a single backup of such crucial data on the cloud is not sufficient. When experts advise even home users to have multiple backups on different media in several locations, it becomes apparent that backups that are available solely on the cloud cannot be relied on in every situation. While the cloud does make it easy to backup and restore when necessary, many businesses deal with enormous amounts of data every day. It means restoring can take several days or even weeks in some cases which may be too slow in case of time sensitive data.

Another challenge when it comes to cloud backups is that it depends on the Internet connection to work. If the connection stops working for any reason, backups could be interrupted prematurely. Similarly, restoring data after an emergency may become impossible if the networking equipment is damaged, the phone lines are down or there is no power at the ISP.

Is There an Alternative?

For a business, backups should be reliable, accurate and most importantly, easy to restore as and when required. Often this means having duplicate copies – only a few of which should be online. Redundancy is important when it comes to backups.

IT managers should evaluate data when implementing a backup strategy. Backups of time sensitive data should be available close at hand while data that may not be retrieved for a long time can use more long-term storage options. The best backup strategy will involve a mix of both off-line and online options to minimize the risks associated with relying on only one alternative. Even though fast Internet connections are ubiquitous in the developed world, it is far better for a business to have off-line backups and not need it than the other way around.

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