How to do cloud data backup the right way

by | Sep 25, 2018

Cloud data backup can protect against the risks of on-site data loss caused by a wide range of disasters. It’s an essential resource for businesses today. But since not all clouds are made equal, it’s imperative to choose the right system.

In this post, we uncover the critical differences between lightweight cloud storage options and those that provide true business continuity during downtime events.

Why you need it

It’s almost nostalgic to think of the way small businesses used to back up their data: in cramped server closets, basements, wherever the infrastructure would fit.

Except it’s not so nostalgic when you realize how many businesses are still doing it this way!

When it comes to data storage, too many companies are putting all their eggs in one basket. They’re backing up their data—that’s a good start—but they’re storing those backups in a single location, vulnerable to everything that can go wrong:

  • Fire
  • Water damage
  • Natural disasters
  • Server damage and malfunction
  • Somebody spilling Red Bull all over the infrastructure

You get the idea … bad stuff can happen. And if you don’t have an additional backup somewhere off-site, then your data could be gone for good.

 

The cloud will save your butt

Cloud computing has changed everything in the world of BC/DR (business continuity and disaster recovery).

Thanks to the cost efficiency and convenience of the cloud, businesses no longer have to worry about replicating their data to a private off-site datacenter. They no longer need to pay for climate-controlled storage of clunky tape backups.

By storing backups in the cloud, businesses can breathe easier knowing that their data is safe, even if their on-site infrastructure has been totally destroyed. What’s more, cloud backups let you access that data from virtually anywhere. So if the office is flooded with water, your teams can still get the data they need to keep the business running.

But here’s the caveat …

Choosing the wrong cloud backup can be just as dangerous as not having a cloud backup at all.

Questions you should be asking about cloud data backup

Simply having extra copies of files in the cloud is not enough. You need to be realistic about how accessible that data is when you need it most.

Some things to consider:

  • What kinds of data can be backed up to the cloud, and how often?
  • How quickly will you be able to recover it from the cloud after a major on-site data loss?
  • Will you be able to run your critical applications if on-site infrastructure is kaput?
  • How safe is your cloud backup from ransomware or other attacks?
  • What if somebody accidentally deletes data from your cloud backup? Can it be retrieved?

These questions are meant to underscore the importance of using a robust cloud-based backup solution – NOT a lightweight online file storage platform. Because when disaster strikes, you’ll want to be sure you can actually get your hands on the data your business needs.

 

Please, no Google Drive or Dropbox for BC/DR

Look, there are endless advantages to online file-sync and share (FSS) platforms like Google Drive and Dropbox (though frankly we’re partial to Datto Drive). But those are designed principally for file sharing, not business continuity.

Absolutely, FSS platforms make it easy for teams to collaborate and share files from anywhere. The good ones let you manage file versions, replicate your data in real time and provide tons of handy cloud-based storage, accessible on any device.

But that’s not the same as BC/DR.

 

Why file-sharing apps fall short

There are numerous reasons why FSS platforms aren’t adequate for file backup. Here are the big ones:

  • Your FSS platform likely doesn’t come close to providing the storage you need for true business continuity. Typically, these platforms are useful for sharing folders of documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, images and so on. They don’t back up all the O/S files or application data your business runs on.
  • For most businesses, a full-scale recovery from major data loss is simply not viable with file-sharing platforms. Sure, you could restore select files from the cloud, but how much is that really going to help if all your computers are locked up with ransomware? How much downtime will really be prevented if you can’t restore your operating systems?
  • When synced files get corrupted on your computer (by malware, for example), the copies in the cloud generally do too.
  • Even if you’ve somehow replicated all your critical data into a cloud-based file-sharing platform, you probably won’t be able to restore it all in any reasonable amount of time.

Case in point: FSS platforms should never be used for BC/DR, and they’re not intended to be.

 

So, what’s the difference?

What’s the difference between lightweight cloud-based file storage and robust cloud-based data backup?

Simply put, today’s best data backup systems are designed for continuity. BC/DR is not just about “getting your files back.” It’s about getting the business up and running again after a disruptive event.

In addition to letting you restore individual files as needed, a good data backup system backs up all your data, including O/S data, so that you can restore everything from the cloud in the event of a major data loss.

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Even better, systems like the Datto SIRIS provide cloud virtualization, allowing you to boot the backup as a virtual machine in just minutes. We’ll return to that in a minute.

BC/DR solutions can:

  • Back up your data to the cloud more frequently
  • Recover your data faster
  • Enable multiple restore options
  • Automatically test for data integrity
  • Minimize costly downtime and promptly restore operations

 

Downtime kills businesses

Why is all this so important, you ask? Because downtime is crazy-expensive.

A single hour of downtime costs small companies an average of $8,500. Datto provides a handy downtime cost calculator to help businesses predict their recovery time (and the expenses that incur during such disruptions). It’s not pretty. The larger your company, the more costly the downtime.

The costs of data loss alone can be staggering. But the consequences of that loss is where the costs really rack up: idle employees, production disruptions, revenue loss, system repairs / replacement, recovery and so on.

This is why choosing the right cloud data backup is so important. With the right solution in place, recovering data from the cloud can reduce downtime significantly.

 

What we recommend

For maximum data protection, we recommend Datto’s line of BC/DR solutions like the ALTO and SIRIS series. Each solution is customizable to the needs of your company and provides enterprise-grade data backup for small to medium-size businesses.

Datto’s solutions combine a dedicated on-site BDR appliance with mirrored backups in the Datto Cloud. Here’s what we like about it specifically in regard to how it leverages the cloud for added protection.

 

Cloud-based features

  • Hybrid cloud backup: Again, arguably the greatest cloud-based benefit to Datto’s solutions is the hybrid cloud data backup. This means data is accessible locally for the fastest possible recovery, and in the cloud for added insurance against on-site disasters.
  • Cloud virtualization: Both the Datto SIRIS and ALTO allow you to boot your backup as a virtual machine in the cloud, from basically anywhere, in as little as 6 seconds. So if the office is literally underwater, you can still run your critical applications as normal from other machines, directly from the cloud. (SIRIS and ALTO also offer hybrid cloud virtualization, which leverages both the on-site appliance and the cloud for an even faster virtual environment.)
  • Backup Insights: Backup Insights is Datto’s web-based interface for rapidly identifying lost data. It’s an IT manager’s dream, because it can quickly locate missing files with minimal user guidance – even when the file name or deletion date are unknown. It makes it easy to view any files that have been deleted, modified or created between two recovery points, and it lets you restore them instantly (from the cloud or the on-site appliance).
  • Cloud redundancy: Datto stores your backups in two geographically diverse datacenters. So in the event of a widespread regional disaster that knocks out access to one datacenter, your data would still be safe at another location and instantly available via the cloud.
  • Infinite cloud retention available: For businesses that require long-term access to all their backups, Datto offers unlimited cloud storage. Infinite Cloud Retention allows businesses to keep an unlimited amount of data in the Datto Cloud with no time restriction.
  • Private & public cloud support: SIRIS Virtual devices (an alternative to the SIRIS 3 and X series) allow businesses to experience the same cloud-based benefits and virtualization capabilities via their own cloud, whether it’s a private datacenter or a public cloud service like Amazon’s AWS.

Beyond these benefits, there’s a host of additional capabilities that make Datto’s BC/DR solutions a smart choice, like advanced screenshot verification, which automatically verifies the integrity of backups and makes sure they’re bootable.

Backups can be performed as often as every five minutes, minimizing the chances of extensive data loss. Datto even offers a backup of public cloud services, including G Suite, Office 365 and Salesforce with its Backupify service – ensuring that data stored in these clouds are securely backed up to the Datto cloud.

These are capabilities that cloud-based FSS platforms don’t come anywhere close to matching.

 

Protect your business with hybrid cloud data backup

For more information on cloud-based data backup and other benefits of Datto’s business continuity solutions, request a free demo today. Our BC/DR experts are happy to go over your options in greater detail and answer your questions. Call us at (646) 395-1170 or email us at [email protected].

Tracy Rock is the Director of Marketing at Invenio IT. Tracy is responsible for all media-related initiatives as well as external communications—including, branding, public relations, promotions, advertising and social media. She is one busy lady and we are lucky to have her!