How to Choose a Cloud Backup Service
The modern world is increasingly reliant on storing, sharing, and using information. With so many processes and jobs relying on keeping everyone involved in the loop, keeping information on a single PC or two can become unreliable or unwieldy.
Businesses can alleviate some of the pains from infrastructure and data loads by using a cloud backup service to keep their files secure and available to anyone who needs them. A good cloud backup will work silently in the background, and you might not even notice it’s there until disaster strikes.
Here are some helpful tips on what to focus on when researching which one will best fit you or your company.
Cloud Backup vs. Cloud Storage
When looking for the best providers, it’s important to note the difference between cloud backup and cloud storage services. Some clients search for one when they need the other.
Cloud storage provides selective online file storage services. In short, a cloud storage provider like Dropbox allows you to store only a part of your data and share it for collaboration. It’s the better option for real-time remote work and file management.
On the other hand, a cloud backup service provides long-term data recovery for most or all files on the devices connected to the cloud. With a backup provider, the company stores any new files automatically on their servers and allows you to access them when your local copies are missing.
These are some of the most common questions that might pop up if you need cloud backup:
- What happens if a workstation or server drive dies?
- How long does the company need to hold on to files?
- Where do we archive old projects, virtual machines, or data?
Some cloud storage services use cloud backup as a secondary or background option. They use separate servers for storage and backup, allowing clients access to both services depending on their needs. However, cloud backup providers often provide more comprehensive saving options by sacrificing the ability to edit or access them one at a time.
Cloud Backup Considerations
If you’ve decided that you genuinely need a cloud backup for personal or professional use, your work is not done yet. There are still some important factors to consider.
Scalability and Data Usage
Unlike cloud storage options, most backup providers offer companies unlimited or nearly unlimited storage size plans. This allows them to create a customized solution that can handle substantial data loads at the expense of user access and recovery speed. Some providers charge more depending on how many hard drives you’re trying to back from each device or whether you’re also backing external drives.
Additionally, if you’re already using cloud storage to handle most of your workload, you’ll need to consult the provider about how those two services can intermingle. Since most cloud storage providers offer separate backups for the files they manage, you’ll need to figure out which one will take priority for online collab files.
Industry Standard Compliance
Your industry might have specific regulations to handle data storage, making cloud backups a hassle to integrate. Some backup-as-a-service companies have built niche solutions to handle documents in compliance with these regulations. If your job has more stringent data security requirements, look for providers that work specifically within the industry rather than broad or one-size-fits-most offers.
One of the most common benchmarks that cloud storage, security, and backup providers are gauged these days is server and system uptime. Most top providers guarantee at least 99% server uptime, with the option of adding more nines after the decimal period. The “significance of nines” might seem inconsequential until you work out the math. A system uptime of 99.9% means roughly 10 minutes each week when you won’t have access to your backup files. That’s typically not how system downtimes work, but it is a good approximation of possible events nonetheless.
In general, a provider will never guarantee 100% system uptime since such a promise is most likely empty and unbacked. However, the more nines they have, the pricier and less accessible the service will be.
Dispersion is a sub-aspect of reliability. A dispersed cloud backup provider keeps several server centers across the country or countries where they operate. The dispersal allows them to keep more than one copy of a backup at all times, ensuring better accessibility and system uptime in disaster scenarios.
Most cloud backup considerations focus on where and how securely files are stored. However, you’ll also need to figure out how quickly you can access these files from the provider if things go wrong.
Accessibility will depend on how and where the files are stored. Using offshore cloud backup options might be less expensive, but the increased distance can severely impact upload and download times even when considering modern network speeds. Additionally, local cloud backup companies are more likely to know industry standards around your area and specifically cater to your needs, providing a streamlined service.
Not all cloud backups save the data in the same way. File compression, storage, and transmission can significantly impact processing and loading speeds. Also, when you need to retrieve the files in a crisis, this data might come in a stream that needs to be crawled through to become legible, which can take more time.
Last but not least on the accessibility front is the web client system requirements.
Think about how your employees’ access or use work files and what platforms they need for their work. A backup provider might create clients for Windows, Linux, and macOS, or a web client supporting Android and iOS systems. Not all of them will work seamlessly, and sometimes you might need to cut your losses and stick to a single platform to ensure reliability and intuitiveness.
If your files are stored elsewhere, it’s natural to worry about their security. Most popular cloud backup services use top-of-the-line encryption methods to secure your connection to the server and keep the files under lock and key. These are usually the AES encryption for storage and TLS for transmission. If you need a customized solution with more data safety, look for a provider with advanced security options packaged in their service.
Choosing the Best for You
A fully customized solution might be more expensive than a basic option but can pay off in the long run. If you’re looking for cloud backup, research the possible options carefully and select the provider willing to work with you to customize their approach according to your needs.
What are your most important data storage considerations? Let us know in the comment section below.