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Offsite Backup Definition and Types. How to choose an offsite backup solution?

What is offsite data backup solution? The most popular offsite backup challenges and features.

Every modern company understands that there is a possibility of malfunction in storing important information, so businesses try to protect their data by backing it up. In case of damage to hardware, software, etc. and consequent loss of important data, it is then possible to recover it. There are two ways to backup corporate data and each of them have both advantages and disadvantages: these are onsite and offsite backup.

Offsite backup is the replication of the data to a server which is separated geographically from a production systems site. Offsite data backup may also be done via direct access, over Wide Area Network (WAN). Onsite backup means the storage of the backup data on local storage devices such as hard drives, DVDs, and more.

offsite data backup solutions architecture

Main benefits of the offsite backup:

  • access to the necessary data from any location by using File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or Internet;
  • the data can’t be destroyed in case of fire or other disaster at the principle site, and can’t be stolen unlike onsite storage units;
  • offsite backup solutions may be more reliable than onsite because the data is backed up automatically.

Offsite backup solutions help organizations to safeguard digital information from unexpected events which in one way or another represent data loss, partial or total, which may affect the organizations operation.

For protection of digital information, two different approaches are typically used for the destination of backups: local and/or remote locations.

Local locations are used, generally, for the backup of information of equipment of a LAN to tapes or autochangers connected directly to the servers, or to NAS or SAN solutions, or in a same physical space. They are physically close by, but in a different, accessible place.

Local data backup allows organizations to have a mechanism to recover user or machine information from computer systems, applications, databases, etc., in situations that are usually only affecting operations in a partial manner. Often there are different levels of criticality according to the processes involved. Generally, many of these data recovery situations are accidentally caused by users.

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It may be important that with local backup, the speed of both backup and recovery processes are probably faster, assuming a reasonable network, and the times of recovery are less in comparison with other backup destinations. This may be significant in achieving successful compliance with an organization’s policies regarding backup windows and other requirements.

The use of remote locations on the other hand, guarantees organizations to have recovery mechanisms in case of situations that totally affect their operations. For example, in the case of natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc.) or physical failures in infrastructure, such as electrical problems, fires, access control violations, robberies or other forms of attack.

For the management of remote destinations, it is necessary that the backup applications consider and manage the necessary variables needed for operation. This is the offsite backup solution concept, which maintains the characteristics of a backup and recovery solution while allowing the copy and retrieval of the data to/from remote storage sites. This could involve a remote device or computer system, or a service or resource in the cloud, such as Google, Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, etc. Of course, adequate levels of security and speed are important

Offsite backup is a well-known solution architecture approach between cloud backup and disaster recovery applications, and should offer the following features:

  • Bare metal restore (BMR), a technique that allows backing up the data in a way that is available to be restored in a computer system from “bare metal”, that is, a computer without any operating system and installed applications. The backed up data is available in a form which enables a system administrator to restore a computer system from “bare metal”, i.e. without any requirements as to previously installed software or operating system.
  • Management of snapshots of instances defined and configured in virtualization environments, both in physical equipment and in resources defined in the cloud.
  • Facilities for handling archiving, which allows storing data archives in order to maintain them for a determined period of time and perform search operations and information queries, for specific time scenarios.
  • Replication of information between different locations, which allows for higher levels of protection and security of backup volumes. When this is done to different physical locations, the possibilities of data loss are minimized.
  • Facilitate and allow the implementation of a disaster recovery solution, taking into account the aforementioned characteristics, security and optimization of network speed and bandwidth This is to protect companies from the occurrence of situations that could adversely affect its total operations, not necessarily only in the area of technology.
  • Have mechanisms and tools that provide optimal levels of speed for the execution of backup and recovery activities, as well as the adequate protection of records. This in turn increases the reliability of the solution implemented, since companies have an effective backup of their information, both operational, administrative and management.
  • Offer organizations fair and affordable prices and costs, which allow them not only to install and configure effective offsite backup software, but also to grow as information volume and operation requirements increase with time.
  • Offer excellent technical support, which guarantees users to have effective and timely offsite backup solutions to incidents and problems that may occur in connection with the operation of the application. This support can come from different sources, such as the community of users (in case of using an open source offsite backup solution) and/or the company that sold and/or created the solution. Users may be subject to different levels of service, but the service should have an ultimate outcome: always provide a solution to the user.

In addition to the above functions offsite backup solutions may also allow:

  • Remote access to backed up data from anywhere to people with the appropriate permissions and access levels.
  • Reduced maintenance costs of backup infrastructure in resources such as servers, tape drives and robotics. In the case of cloud-based solutions, expenses related to these items are not necessary. With a cloud based solution, all activities of maintenance and replacement of parts and equipment are carried out by the responsible provider of the datacenter and its platform.
  • Management of the resources defined in virtual environments, in a way that makes their implementation possible in an agile and efficient way. These include: snapshots, virtual instance backups and host that are running virtualized environments, etc.

Therefore, offsite backup software should consider:

  • Security in the safekeeping of the data, since they are in relatively publicly accessible sites on a network. In the case of remote locations belonging to the company, levels of physical access to these sites must to be reinforced.
  • Organization and adequate management of bandwidth, in order to ensure the execution of the copy processes in an integrated manner and with adequate response times for the restoration operations, according to service levels.
  • Easy adaptability to the changes that may occur in the configuration of the information to be backed up or recovered, as well as the resources to be used.

In addition to the above, there is an important point to consider in offsite backup solution based on the cloud: the increasingly frequent use of hybrid platforms, that is, those with shared resources in local and remote sites, managed from a single software platform. This represents an operative scenario with potentially more elements to be taken care of.

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  1. Allison

    This is a great post about offsite backup definition and types. Here is also a detailed review of qualities and techniques of offsite data backup.

  2. Martin

    There is a lot of offsite backup solutions, and they have a wide range of benefits such as cost-effectivness and a greater degree of corporate control over backup practices, access to the necessary data from any location, and more. That’s why I prefer offsite, not onsite backup.

  3. Adam

    Great post about onsite and offsite data backup. It’s important to know all features and types of solutions to choose the right one.

  4. Peter

    To prevent the loss of important data every company uses backup solutions. That’s a very useful and informative post for those who wants to choose offsite data backup solution.

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