The decision about whether cloud backup or local backup is the safest way to store your data often comes down to your specific backup needs.
Inexpensive and a cinch to set up, cloud backup was once mainly associated with small businesses that lacked the resources for elaborate hardware systems. Today, cloud storage adoption is a popular solution for many organizations.
Imagine a SaaS company that has established itself as an expert in its niche through its robust off-page SEO techniques and guest blogging efforts. Such a growing business will typically be adding more and more cloud capabilities for users.
Fortunately, new cloud storage and backup vendors are following on their heels to provide simple, scalable cloud backup solutions for organizations that need to protect valuable SaaS data.
Local backup options are also still evolving, albeit more modestly.
Which is the safest way to store data? This article evaluates the pros and cons of each backup option.
The 3-2-1 Rule
The 3-2-1 rule is the industry best practice backup strategy where you keep multiple copies of your data in different places, across two different types of storage, with at least one copy stored offsite, such as in the cloud.
Keeping multiple copies of critical data is a demonstrable no-brainer.
And the cloud allows IT administrators to perform multiple backups more cost-effectively by replacing your physical tape backups.
Typically, businesses already need to back up a dizzying array of devices.
What’s more, they could also be going as far as looking to invent an app to grow their startup.
That means choosing a cloud provider that can protect data stored on mobile devices and support other operating system requirements. Businesses can implement the 3-2-1 rule using a single vendor with a handful of advanced providers.
What Is Cloud Backup?
Cloud backup is when an organization backs up its system, devices, and data to another location, usually on a cloud-based server. A cloud backup service enables organizations to comply with industry regulations, improve their data protection, and restore information in the event of a disaster. The data gets copied over a network to a cloud-based server that can be either private or public.
Some organizations have the resources to back up their cloud data on-premise on existing storage infrastructure. Alternatively, cloud options allow organizations to back up their data to an offsite server hosted by a public cloud service provider, like Atlantic.Net.
Today, cloud-to-cloud backup is another option. The success of software as a service depends on having a firm grasp of essential SaaS metrics to learn how their customers tick. And businesses are eager to purchase from a slew of products on-demand from each new SaaS business. Such data that originates in the cloud can be backed up at another geographically diverse data center cloud.
A hybrid backup uses traditional backup for some data while storing other data in the cloud. A Managed Veeam Service, for example, offers on-site storage for local backups and offsite storage in data center locations.
What Is Local Backup?
Local backup is the traditional strategy of backing up data on local servers at offices or premises using disk-based hardware. Sometimes, smaller businesses may also use an external hard drive for a basic form of local backup.
Interestingly, some businesses have started to back up their SaaS data to a local device. For example, you might be familiar with how AI is revolutionizing content marketing with digital asset management solutions.
This allows companies to streamline tedious tasks such as hunting for digital assets in the wilderness of their cloud storage. In a new twist to the cloud backup and local backup story, such data originating in the cloud is sometimes backed up on local storage.
Cloud Backup Advantages
Cloud backup is less expensive than purchasing and maintaining the hardware required for an on-premises backup system. Organizations can avoid an upfront capital purchase. Cloud backup can be a cheap way of setting up data protection for those that can’t afford a separate disaster recovery location.
If a disaster occurs, cloud backup means that data remains safely stored in the cloud. Offices and systems, including local backups, can be destroyed in an on-site catastrophe, but a remote cloud storage solution that offers data backup for your cloud server ensures your information is safe.
Disaster recovery can be swifter after a data failure or loss at an on-site location since there’s no physical equipment to contend with in recovering files.
As cloud service providers have developed from new technology to a highly competitive industry, cloud backup safety worries have receded. Backup products now come with an array of security features such as end-to-end encryption that keep data safe.
An experienced cloud provider can offer better security for small-to-medium-sized businesses that may not have dedicated cybersecurity experts to maintain and manage local backup.
Another safety consideration is the ever-looming threat of cybercriminal attacks. Bad actors can target your on-premises systems, compromising and destroying both your production data and local backups. Keeping an offsite backup protects data in the cloud.
That said, no data that gets copied across networks is wholly safe from hackers. So be under no illusions about the security trade-offs even cloud backup entails.
Cloud Backup Disadvantages
With a cloud backup, speed limits and thresholds can stall your efforts to download a full backup if you manage large amounts of data, and depending on the volume of data and your internet bandwidth, there can also be significant costs involved. This can easily be mitigated with a service called Snapshots.
Data Loss at Contract End
Pay attention to your cloud provider’s policy if you decide to cancel your contract. Be sure to check how long the cloud provider will keep your data upon the contract end, so you have enough time to download your backup to avoid any data loss.
Advantages of Local Backup
The benefits of having a local backup include:
Local backup with data stored in external hard drives, for example, delivers onsite accessibility. And because disk-based backups are usually continuous, they allow users to go back to specific points in time.
Local backup can bring peace of mind that an organization’s infrastructure is protected. Sometimes, organizations backup data to tape for offline protection against ransomware attacks. Once the data is stored and the drive is disconnected, it’s safe from malicious attacks that affect your network.
Local backup doesn’t depend on an Internet connection, so it’s much faster to backup and recover large volumes of data compared to a cloud backup.
Cloud providers can store your backups in different locations across states and even countries. But with a local backup, you always know where potentially sensitive data is.
Disadvantages of Local Storage
Since local backups are only accessible from the physical storage medium, a disaster affecting your premises could destroy your local backup system. While bringing offsite backups in for updating any data changes takes more work, having an additional copy of your backup is a recommended extra layer of protection.
Cyberattacks such as ransomware that hit your primary systems often target your local backups to prevent you from restoring your data, so you’re more likely to cough up the ransom. In the event of such an attack, having an offsite backup – be it on tape or in the cloud – is essential for a clean restore.
Cloud Backup Versus Local Backup: Which Is Safest?
When comparing each option, what counts as an advantage in one situation can be disadvantageous in another. So businesses need to tailor their solutions to their specific data protection needs.
What can we conclude, then, given the relative, sometimes conflicting merits of each type of backup?
Certainly, a hybrid backup strategy, where you use a mix of cloud and local backups, provides additional security against possible data loss and cover for your organization.
Because no matter which strategy you adopt and the security measures your IT team and cloud provider put in place, a cyberattack can always has the potential to compromise either local or cloud backup.
If your local backup is deleted during an attack, you’ll still be able to recover using your cloud backup and restore your systems to a pre-attack condition.
Conversely, in the rare event when a public cloud backup faces a data breach or data gets lost due to a disaster that affects the cloud provider’s infrastructure, you’ll still have your local copy to fall back on.
Consider a final concrete example. Think about organizations that use SaaS applications that, for example, enable companies to stay ahead of the curve by personalizing websites.
Backing up SaaS data here is essential. Sure, SaaS providers will ensure their infrastructure complies with Service Level Agreements. However, service backup and recovery are your responsibility as a business. So a local backup of essential data is recommended, along with cloud-to-cloud backups, ensuring all irreplaceable business data and personal customer data remain obtained throughout the full sales cycle process remain protected.
Over to You
While organizations are increasingly choosing cloud storage, cloud backup isn’t an adequate solution for all data types. An on-premises backup strategy relying on private data centers continues to make sense for some businesses.
The surge in popularity of cloud backup testifies to its considerable advantages. But the key takeaway is that every backup strategy is unique. Yet more and more enterprises are settling on hybrid backup solutions that adhere to the 3-2-1 rule.
A mix of automated cloud backup solutions and local backup for critical data can ensure businesses against most data loss events – a cloud with a silver lining if you will.
How can Atlantic.Net Help?
Atlantic.Net provides world-class infrastructure for organizations to secure their most valuable asset – their data. Atlantic.Net Cloud Platform provides a perfect solution for organizations to not only secure their data on a stable and secure platform but also enables them to choose from seven global locations to diversify their cloud backup strategy. In addition, our Managed Services provide a full suite of services, designed to make your cloud strategy a success. With powerful services like Veeam Backup, Server Management, Migration Services, and a full suite of security services; we stand ready to assist you with all your cloud services needs!
Share your vision with us, and we will develop a hosting environment tailored to your needs! Contact an advisor at 888-618-DATA (3282) or email firstname.lastname@example.org today.
This article was contributed by Nick Brown founder & CEO of Accelerate Agency, a digital marketing agency.