The Merits of Cloud Backups

So many times when we meet with new clients and we audit their network health and we get to the “How are you backing up your data?” question, the person in charge of the server will look up with a big smile and point out how they back up every night (like they were told to do) and how they switch their backup disks every day (“and see, we know that tapes are bad so we use USB disk drives”). And then they look at me expectantly and wait for me to tell them that their backup situation is all set. But, sadly, that’s when I have to (gently) burst their bubble and point out the flaws in their plan.

Flaw #1 – The backups haven’t physically left the room. If that room gets soaked in a flood or lost in a fire, the backup disks will be destroyed with the server that they were meant to protect. That’s just not good. Some people will manually carry them home to get them off-site and that may be a small step in the right direction (depending on how often they actually remember to do it and whether or not the backups are encrypted – – see Flaw #2) but it’s certainly not fool-proof.

Flaw #2 – The backups are most likely not encrypted. Someone can just walk in and steal one of the backup disks and have a copy of all of your data with no encryption in place to protect it. This is equally not as good as Flaw #1, especially if you have to adhere to any compliance requirements like HIPAA or PCI DSS.

Flaw #3 – In almost all cases, nobody is actually checking the backup logs to see if they are even working. They dutifully swap the disks (or tapes in some cases) but they never check the logs of the backup software to see if the backups are actually succeeding each time they run. We’ve had more than one company come to use after a disaster and ask us to help recover their server from backup only to discover that the backups had been failing for months.

So how does having cloud-based backups solve these problems?

  •  The backups are, by definition of being in the cloud, immediately taken off-site. No matter what happens to your company’s physical location (extended loss of power, a total loss of the building due to fire, flood, etc.) your data is safe and can be downloaded from anywhere and to anywhere in an emergency.
  • The backups are automatically encrypted by default. We also enable a feature in our backup provider’s software that adds a second layer of encryption to your data.
  • Our support team is emailed every time your backup runs (and you can be emailed as well if you’d like) to let us know that it was successful or not. If any errors are reported we can work on them right away to make sure you get a clean backup as soon as possible.
  • There is nothing that you or your staff have to ever remember to do with our cloud-based backups – – it’s all automated and handled by our team. No more swapping tapes or worrying about your backups in any way.

But is the cloud safe enough for your sensitive data? Simply put, yes it is. First off, as mentioned above, we use a second encryption key which is not made available to the cloud backup provider and is not stored on their systems anywhere. If someone were to break into your account on their cloud, they would still have to get past this second layer of encryption. Secondly, our cloud backup provider’s entire business is based on securing your data. They have multiple regulatory requirements that they adhere to and invest much more time and money into securing their systems than any small or medium sized business could ever do.

Interested in gaining the extra security and reliability that cloud-based backups bring?  Give us a call.