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.
Main benefits of the offsite backup:
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.
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
Even though onsite and offsite backups can be useful in specific cases, it’s still possible to directly compare them.
For example, onsite storage is typically less expensive than the offsite, for a number of reasons. The data transfer speed is also faster than with offsite backups, and it requires no internet connection, as well, due to the close proximity of your onsite servers.
On the other hand, onsite storage can be easily destroyed if any disaster occurs at your main office, and you’ll have no way of returning all of your data in that case. This also works for robberies, as well – the consequences of someone stealing your storage units would be the same as in the event of them being destroyed. That’s where offsite backup type comes in, as a way of not losing your data due to an unfortunate event.
Some specific offsite storage advantages also include the ability to share backup data in the several different physical locations, the possibility to gain access to your data from anywhere by using only your internet connection (or via FTP). And, of course, at least one copy of your data survives if there’s a tornado at your main office and your entire main building is gone.
Of course, the offsite backup type isn’t exactly perfect, as well. For once, accessing your data can be problematic in some cases – if you need your data at the time when your server is offline for the routine maintenance job, or something similar. Of course, clients of such servers are warned about these time frames beforehand, but it’s still quite inconvenient if you need immediate access to that data.
As it stands, offsite backup means that you have to transfer your data into the remote location somehow. There’s two main ways of doing this – traditional and modern.
Traditional method means transferring copies of your data directly over to the different storage devices. For example, creating a copy of your data once a week, moving this copy to your own external drive and storing this drive anywhere other than your office – even using a safe deposit box in a bank isn’t out of the question. On the other hand, using tape as your offsite data storage is a possibility, as well. As you can imagine, this method is difficult, time-consuming and limits the frequency of your offsite backups, which might cost you weeks of progress if you suddenly have to restore a month-old copy of your data.
That’s where the modern way comes in – transferring files via the internet. Simple as that – there’s a number of different internet backup services that you can set up and it’ll be automatically copying your data to the designated location. Most of the third-party backup solutions are capable of offering the same feature, as well.
While the traditional way might come in handy in specific cases, the nature of the modern world leaves no doubt that transferring your data using the Internet is probably the best transferring method we have so far. And while using tape as a primary offsite backup storage can be considered a part of the traditional method – the data itself can be transferred there using an internet connection, as well.
A natural disaster or an unfortunate accident aren’t the only reasons that can cause data loss. Another popular factor of losing a company’s data is a data breach. Data breach is when your sensitive or private data gets into the hands of an unauthorized party. Data breaches are getting more and more common in the last several years, and a new breach happens basically every month or even more often, causing a lot of sensitive data to get into the wrong hands.
There are several different exploits and weaknesses that can be used to gain access to your data, including weak passwords, malware, software vulnerabilities, and more. The main purpose of offsite backups in case of a data breach is the ability to get a clean copy of your data that is not infected to look for a way to start cleaning up your main server from compromised data. Having offsite backups also allows you to lessen the downtime caused by a data breach. Such advantages could’ve been helpful to a lot of companies that suffered a data breach in the last several years, like Landry’s, PhotoSquared, and more.
Offsite backup can become your last hope in case of a disaster. And even though a lot of companies know this, there’s still a lot of mistakes when it comes to offsite backup handling. Here are some of the best practices that you should implement with your offsite backup.
These might be the obvious things, but a lot of companies still tend to forget about at least some of them. And that’s not all of the typical mistakes, as well. But knowing and using these offsite backup best practices might save you a lot of time and money in the possible future.
Offsite backup is a well-known solution architecture approach between cloud backup and disaster recovery applications, and should offer the following features:
In addition to the above functions offsite backup solutions may also allow:
Therefore, offsite backup software should consider:
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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