TECH GUIDE - Offsite Backup – an explanation

TECH GUIDE - Offsite Backup – an explanation

Offsite backup – what is it?

Today, most organisations are clear about the need to protect their most important asset - their data. Human error, a PC crash, a virus, malicious actions, flood, fire, theft or loss of a laptop - can all too easily put this data and therefore the business at risk.

Tape backup solutions can sometimes be effective, but they need upfront investment, ongoing maintenance and internal staff to maintain and operate them. The word 'hassle' best describes tape backups - especially during a crisis when key data is to be recovered without delay.

Offsite backup is a modern yet proven solution to this niggling and critical process.

Offsite backup – what are the benefits?

Offsite backup is cheaper, faster and more secure than tape backup. Perhaps a bold statement, but here are some of the arguments:

Cheaper -

  • No capital outlay, pay a fixed monthly amount
  • No set up fees nor license fees
  • Zero / low operating costs
  • Zero staff time needed for backup / recovery
  • Zero tape storage costs

Faster -

  • Installation is complete within minutes - even for non computer staff
  • No waiting to find the right tape nor waiting for someone to find the time to recover lost data

Better -

  • Automated daily backup provides comprehensive protection and zero hassle
  • Ten versions of files are backed up, ensuring fine-grain protection
  • Less down-time and reduced lost productivity - as files can be recovered instantly
  • Web browser access to backed up files for when travelling or at home
  • Works with individual PCs / laptops and file servers / network shares
  • Secure technology and secure mirrored data centres in the UK
  • Ability to share files with co-workers, clients or home PCs

How does offsite backup work?

A small software agent is installed on the computer. This software helps select the data to be backed up, manages the connection to the internet and the encryption / compression of the data - prior to transferring it to the data centres. A simple view is provided to see, select and restore backed up documents.

Various backup modes - scheduled or manual
- Backups can be performed at any time with a single click or be set for hassle-free daily backup.

- Security is provided through secure-sockets connections to the data centres, 128-bit encryption and account passwords.

Effective and fast data transfer
- Compression and delta-blocking ensure regular backups are very efficient and non-intrusive.

Web browser option to restore data
- Data can be accessed via the software agent at any time or via a web browser when travelling away from the office.

CD restore and archiving options
- CD's can be ordered containing a copy of the software agent, as well as all backed up data in case of complete PC / disk loss - or for archiving.

File sharing
- Users can grant sharing permissions to other users. This is a secure process that allows co-workers to share key documents, service providers to share documents with clients and tele-commuters to access both office and home data.

Offsite backup – why use it?

Offsite Backup is used by tens of thousands of organisations in the UK including law firms, accounting firms, consulting organisations, financial intermediaries, manufacturers, education and research establishments, retail outlets, distributors, not-for-profit and service organisations.

Organisations of all sizes with an internet connection can benefit: independent workers, SOHO environments, branch offices, large enterprises, local and national government.

Offsite backup – are there any limitations?

Offsite Backup needs an internet connection to work. This can be traditional dial-up or ISDN for smaller data volumes, or ideally a broadband connection such as ADSL, Cable, DSL and Leased Line. These have the advantage of faster transmission rates, no usage call charges and the ability to handle large volumes of data.

Dial-up / ISDN connections can backup around 500MB of data. ADSL / Cable works well for around 10GB of data. DSL and Leased Lines can handle significantly more capacity across multiple computers, depending upon the bandwidth in place.

The initial backup process can take some time, because a full copy of the data must be encrypted, compressed and copied to the data centres. Further daily backups are significantly faster because file changes only are transmitted. These changes are typically at a 'block' level within a file i.e. if a change is made to a previously backed up document, only the change to that document is sent, not the whole document.

Some pseudo-limitations of offsite backup relate to security and price - although these are not significant when fully understood:

Offsite backup – is it secure?

Offsite backup is secure. Only secure socket connections are made to the offsite data centres and data is encrypted to 128-bit level (military grade) before transmission. Data backed up never travels un-encrypted, including during a restore process.

A password, an account number and an encryption key all ensure that only the authorised user has access to the data.

The data centres themselves are tier-1 facilities, incorporating fire suppression, security cameras, ID access controls, backup generators, multiple ISPs and high-end firewalls. Mirroring and clustering concepts are used to ensure the data is always available for restore.

These factors together ensure that the service is considerably more secure than the client's own office environment.

Offsite backup – how much does it cost?

Offsite backup is charged for on a per computer per month basis, although companies with multiple computers pay one fixed fee for all their machines.

There is no setup fee and no software license fee, nor are there additional charges for data transfer and recovery.

Prices start at £10 per month for a PC with 5GB of data, £20 per month for 10GB of data and £30 per month for 20GB of data with additional System File protection. An organisation with multiple PCs can combine these prices to cover all their machines.

File server backups requiring larger volumes (up to 100GB per server) cost more and prices are available on request.

When comparing prices with a traditional tape system, is it necessary to consider the administration costs for a tape backup system. Assuming a conservative 20 minutes per day, this adds up to ten working days per year for an administrator - over £1500 / year in business costs. This is in addition to the costs to purchase and maintain software, hardware and tapes, which can themselves become redundant in time.

Offsite backup is cheaper, faster and better than a traditional tape solution - so why not try it – take out a free trial today

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