A data backup is the result of copying or archiving files and folders for the purpose of being able to restore them in case of data loss. Data loss can be caused by many things ranging from computer viruses to hardware failures to file corruption to fire, flood, or theft (etc)
The purpose of the backup is to create a copy of data that can be recovered in the event of a primary data failure. Primary data failures can be the result of hardware or software failure, data corruption, or a human-caused event, such as a malicious attack (virus or malware), or accidental deletion of data.
How it Works
The most common backup types are a full backup, incremental backup and differential backup. Other backup types include synthetic full backups and mirroring. In the debate over cloud vs. local backup, there are some types of backup that are better in certain locations
10 features you should look for in a good backup service
1. Storage space
Cloud providers charge customers based on the amount of data storage they use. Whilst this works out less expensive than buying your own storage servers, you still need to consider what your likely requirements are. This will entail looking at the size of a single backup and then multiplying this by the number of backups you want to preserve at any point in time. This will help you compare the rates of individual providers.
2. Look for scalable storage
The amount of data you need backing up can vary. As your company grows, your storage requirements are likely to increase and, if you occasionally carry out large-scale projects, you might want a temporary backup of the data you are using.
A good service provider will let customers increase their storage capacity on a flexible ‘as needed’ basis, enabling you to scale up with growth or to cover short-term needs.
3. High availability
What could be worse than suffering a data loss and then finding out that your backup server was offline when you need to do a disaster recovery? One thing can: discovering the server is regularly offline, so your scheduled backups didn’t take place and your critical data didn’t get saved.
It is crucial that your cloud backup provider offers a high availability service that is guaranteed to stay online. If it doesn’t provide 99.95% or higher, go somewhere else.
4. Vendor disaster recovery
You use a backup service to protect you in the case of data loss. But what would happen if the vendor’s backup server went down? Before choosing a backup service, make sure that it has its own disaster recovery plan in operation too.
Most service providers have multilocation backups which store several copies of your backups at different data centres. So, even if a fire takes out a complete data centre, one of the copies stored elsewhere can be brought online immediately. Make sure your service provider has this solution in place.
5. Backup frequency as required
Some businesses need to back up their data far more frequently than others. If you have a busy eCommerce business, for example, you may need constant backups so that you do not lose any very recent transactions if data is lost.
Some backup services give customers total control over the frequency of their backups and enable them to be scheduled at times which are most convenient. Others only offer a limited number of backups and at times scheduled by the vendor. Make sure you choose the option which best suits your company’s needs.
6. Backup security
The security of your cloud backups is highly important when you consider the number cyberattacks that take place. If you are passing that security to a third-party, make sure they have robust measures in place to keep your data out of the hands of hackers.
Ideally, they should have intrusion prevention, 256-bit encryption for storage and data transfer, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Protection (TLS) and use multilocation data storage. In addition, the physical data centres should also be well-guarded with security staff, CCTV and access control in place.
7. Data compliance
Data regulation is getting stricter all the time. If you hold personal information you are required to comply with the Data Protection Act and the new GDPR regulation. Even if your data is backed up by a third-party cloud provider, you are still responsible for it. Make sure, therefore, that your provider meets industry standards and follows best practice to help you stay compliant.
8. 24/7 technical support
Backups are essential if you need to recover from a data loss. However, if a disaster does happen, the technical difficulties in getting back online quickly can be challenging. It’s times like these when you need a service provider that does more than simply provide a backup server.
To give yourself the best chance of meeting your Recovery Time Objective, you need a provider that can assist with the technical issues no matter what time of day. To ensure this happens, choose a cloud backup provider that offers expert, 24/7 technical support.
Ideally, support should be available via telephone, online chat and email. This way, should one communication channel be unavailable, there are others you can still use to get the problem solved.
9. Read the T & Cs
Check any terms and conditions carefully before signing up to a backup service. A good cloud backup provider will give guarantees and SLAs to ensure you receive an effective service. Also, check if there are any limitations that might prevent your company carrying out backup operations in the way it needs.
10. What customers think
The quality of the backup service and how well it suits the needs of your company should always be your main priority. If you are unsure about a cloud backup provider, we always recommend looking at customer reviews as these often provide a useful insight into the quality of the company, the services it provides and the support it gives its clients.
Data Backup Solutions
There are multiple types of backup solutions and tools available on the market that deliver different RPOs, RTOs, and handle different scopes. Here are the most popular ones.
These appliances often include storage, which comes as a 19” rack-mounted device that you install and connect to your network. The appliances are easy to install and configure. In most cases, you do not need to provision a separate server, operating system, or install any software. The agents installed on your systems perform the backups, and you access the solution via a graphical interface provided with the appliance.
However, remember that if you have a hardware appliance and it fails, you lose your entire data backup solution. Even if you backed up to a secondary location, you need to re-provision the backup solution before you can recover, which increases your recovery times.
Software solutions are installed on your own systems and handle the backup process. Many solutions allow you to use existing systems, but some require dedicated servers provisioned just for backup. For these, you need to install and configure the operating system and the backup software. In many cases, you can install the software on a virtual machine (VM).
Compared to hardware appliances, software solutions offer greater flexibility, especially if your infrastructure changes often. Also, software solutions can be less expensive than purchasing a hardware appliance bundle and they also allow you to choose and provision your own storage.
Numerous vendors offer backup-as-a-service (BaaS) – a cloud-based offering that allows you to provision and run your backups from the vendor’s or service provider’s cloud infrastructure by installing lightweight agents on your machines. The BaaS is even simpler than software because there are no systems to provision and no operating systems to configure.
Of course, if your organization deals with sensitive data or is subject to regulatory requirements, you will need to check if cloud backup with a BaaS solution is acceptable.
Hybrid Data Backup Solutions
The latest innovation in the backup world is all-in-one hybrid backup solution, which gives you the freedom to install the software or use it as a cloud service at will. These solutions combine the best of both worlds, making them the best choice for many organizations.
A copy of your data is stored in backup storage, and you must have it selected, provisioned, and handy for successful backup (and recovery).
Data Backup to Local or USB Disks
If you have enough capacity on your local disks, you can back up to them or to external USB drives. These backups are fast and convenient and you don’t need a network. The downside of local backups is that if the system is destroyed by fire of flood, your backups can be destroyed as well if they are stored in the same location. Also in many cases, you need to manage these backups on a computer-by-computer basis, which makes it cumbersome for larger environments.
Local and USB disk backups are best for quick backups of a small number of systems and are designed for the recovery of individual files or systems in the event of software failure.
Data Backup to Network Shares and NAS
This is one of the most common storage options. With a centralized NAS (Network Attached Storage), SAN (Storage Area Network), or simple network share, you can store many or all company backups in one place and restore a file, system, or the entire data center in the event of a virus attack or data corruption. Yet as with local disks, NAS and SAN will not help you recover data in the event of a major area disaster, such as a hurricane or typhoon that destroys your entire facility.
Data Backup to Tapes
To recover from a major disaster, you must store a copy of your data in an off-site location, preferably at least 100 miles from your primary data center.
One of traditional ways to do that is to store copies of your data on tape devices and physically ship the tapes to a remote location. Modern tape technologies, such as LTO-7, allow you to store up to 2.5TB of compressed data on a single tape, making them quite efficient if you need to protect large amounts of data.
The downside of a tape backup is lengthy RTOs as you need to physically ship the tape back when you need to recover data. Also, some backup solutions have limited recovery options. For example, you can recover an entire system from tape but not a single file or folder. In addition, you need a tape drive, autoloader, or tape library to create backups and perform recoveries and these devices could be relatively expensive.
Data Backup to Cloud Storage
The modern alternative to tape backup is cloud storage. With this type of solution, you subscribe to a certain storage capacity in the cloud vendor’s or service provider’s data center. You do not need any hardware as you do with tape drives, but you do need an internet connection to send backups to the cloud. Your vendor may have ways to eliminate the problems with uploading large amounts of data by offering physical data shipping or initial seeding program.
What files should I back up?
Any type of data can be backed up, including emails, documents, spreadsheets, and application data. To ensure that you do not miss anything, you can back up the entire hard drive for each PC. It is a good idea to make a list of all applications you use on a regular basis and then make sure they are included in your backup.
Should I use an automated or manual backup?
Although manual backups used to be the most common type, they are quickly becoming obsolete in favor of more reliable solutions. With automated backups, there is no chance of backups getting skipped due to forgetfulness or human error. Automating the process also results in less costs and quicker completion.
Can I decide when the backup will run?
Absolutely. You will have full control over the schedule of your offsite backup. You can choose to run it every night, every weeknight, or even multiple times per day. Once your schedule is in place, the backups will run automatically with no interruption to your business.
How long does a backup take?
While you may have heard horror stories of nightly tape backups that take 8 hours or more, these are quickly becoming the exception to the rule. At The Data Backup, we use incremental backups, which expedites the process by transmitting only data that has been added or changed since the last backup. The initial backup may take a little longer because all files are transmitted to our data centers, but subsequent backups can be completed in just minutes. However, it is important to note that actual backup times are dependent on the speed of your Internet connection, the memory and processing power of your computer, the volume of network traffic, and the operating system you are using.
In the event of a system failure or disaster, how do I restore my data?
Our backup software allows you to access your data immediately from any computer with an Internet connection. You can then copy your files to a safe location.
How secure are your offsite backups?
Very. All data is compressed and encrypted before transmission. Only authorized users who pass our rigorous authentication process will have access to your data. We use the same state-of-the-art security technologies used by banks nationwide to protect your mission-critical information. Compare this to most tape drive backups, which provide little to no security.
What do I do if I lose my password?
Contact one of our support technicians, who can guide you through the process of retrieving your password.
Can I try your service before committing?
Yes! We offer risk-free, no-obligation trials to our offsite data backup service. Simply give it a try for 7 days—if you are not delighted at the end of your trial period, you will be charged nothing.