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Backing up data is of vital importance to any organization and with so many ways to do it, it can be difficult to understand which option is best for your organization. Many will now look towards cloud technologies for backup requirements but for some, more traditional approaches such as backing up to tape or disk can have its benefits.
Local or on-site backup has a variety of forms, ranging from simple solutions such as USB hard drives to more robust solutions such as onsite NAS boxes or tape and disk based backups. Local backups often have the benefit of quick recovery times as they are stored on or close to the network where the restore will be taking place.
There are many more benefits to onsite backup and the one’s that benefit your organization the most will depend on several factors including how your IT environment is set-up. One of the benefits of having a local backup is that organizations will have full internal control over the backup storage media and the security of the data on it, this can be time-consuming however and may require technical resource to be available.
In addition to this, on site backup provides fast (LAN speed) backup and restore and the cost to transfer data to the storage medium can be negligible or very cheap. Since the backups are stored close by, they are very conveniently obtained whenever needed, saving vital time when the need to restore arises.
There are several methods that will allow you to backup data remotely, many of which involve the use of cloud platforms at some stage. Cloud backup is a type of service through which cloud computing resources and infrastructure are used to create, edit, manage and restore data, services or application backup; this is done remotely over the internet.
Remote or geographically separated backups offer different benefits to local backups, again these will depend on your requirement and environment. As backups are not stored close to their primary location, there is an added layer of security against theft, fire, flood, earthquakes and other natural disasters. This means that if the primary storage systems are damaged by any of these circumstances, the backup data will not be.
Cloud backups are usually run on an automated schedule, reducing the risk of human error and often meaning that little or no additional resource is required once the system has been implemented. Time is one of the most commonly stated reasons organizations aren’t backing up their data and cloud backups mitigate this, all they require is an internet connection.
With both local and remote (cloud) backups there can be some negatives, for example local backups often have no disaster recovery (DR) functionality and in the event of a disaster the backups may also be damaged as well as the primary data set. Remote backups are likely to have some DR functionality and simply storing data away from primary storage will allow you to recover in a disaster situation, however these services may come at a premium and DR functionality may be an additional cost to simple backup.
With regards to cost, cloud removes ‘grey-costs’ such as having to manage, heat and cool hardware on-site. However, cloud services will require an ongoing subscription usually on a monthly or annual basis where as local backups usually have a larger capital expense on implementation. Organizations will also have to sacrifice their ability to have full internal control over backup storage and the security of their data. They should seek out trustable, reputable, specialist providers of backup.
Hybrid backup refers to an installation that is a mixture of onsite and cloud services. Hybrid approaches often aim to combine the functionalities available in cloud technologies with some of the benefits of local backups, such as local restores and a physical copy of backup data on site. The only potential draw-back of implementing a hybrid solution is that there will be two aspects of backup to manage and it could come at a premium cost. The real question then is, how much are you willing to spend to protect your digital assets?