TECH GUIDE - The Problem with Remote Backup

TECH GUIDE - The Problem with Remote Backup

Remote Backup is a problem...

You spend years of your life assimilating and collecting information - information that gives your company a competitive edge. It could be spreadsheets, proposal documents or an address book; the exact nature doesn’t matter. What matters is what you need that data for i.e. to make money.

Most companies realise the importance of their data so they diligently carry out backups. However, few realise that simply performing a backup once a day is only half of the overall process. A copy of your backup data onsite might be sufficient if your server were to be infected with a virus or if the hard drive has failed, but what if there were a flood? ‘Our office is at the top of a building’, you say, ‘there is no chance of us being affected by a flood’. Your hardware and backup tapes will probably be safe and sound, unlike the companies in the downstairs basement office. Poor sods.

What if there is a fire? ‘We have a great sprinkler system in our office’, you retort, ‘it’ll put out a candle flame in nanoseconds’. That’s great, I’m sure your hardware and backup tapes react really well to water damage. And finally, what about theft? ‘Why would a thief want to steal our backup tapes? They’re of no value to them’. I’m not sure thieves evaluate the situation in quite the same way. Office break-ins are usually ‘smash and grab’ affairs. I can’t imagine burglars deliberating at length over what is or isn’t worth taking. ‘Leave it Simon, we’ve already got two copies of Windows Server 2008 from the last job’.

There are a number of things that can affect the integrity of company data when stored in the office and what I’m alluding to here is the importance of keeping a backup stored offsite. This process is commonly referred to as having a remote or offsite backup. It means that you’ll always have a separate copy of critical business data kept safely away from the rest. It’s considered to be good business practice. Unfortunately, few companies actively implement a remote backup policy.

So if it’s so important, why doesn’t everybody already do it? Why the head in the sand? Well it’s mainly because maintaining a proper remote backup process is risky, expensive and a pain in the backside.

The Risk with Remote Backup

Try to remember that most businesses still perform backups using tape and external hard-drives. Taking a backup tape offsite is a risk because outside the office walls it becomes vulnerable. The data contained on backup tapes is rarely encrypted and if those copies are lost, or stolen from the backseat of a car, the lucky fellow who finds them can conceivably tuck into all the juicy company data contained inside.

The average thief probably won’t know what they’ve just stolen - to them it’s just another expensive looking piece of technology to flog down the pub – but the victims of the crime now have no way of controlling the exposure of that data. If news, and sensitive information, does get out the result is often reputation damage and massive legal penalties.

In many instances, the employee who exposed the data cannot be blamed. Too often, random employees are passed the temporary responsibility of backing up and taking tapes home with them to look after. They were probably asked to do it because it’s ‘one of those things we have to do and Sharon, who usually does it, is away on maternity leave’. The importance of the process is lost on them and they may not do it properly or take enough care. These are factors that deter companies from taking backups offsite at all.

The Cost of Remote Backup

What good companies realise is that doing remote backup reliably requires investment. How much investment depends on the amount of data being backed up but whether it’s a single gigabyte or a terabyte, there needs to be somewhere safe to store that data and somebody needs to be trained to do it. And that soon adds up.

Storing data in an employee’s home study will not suffice – especially if the data is sensitive. When the auditors come knocking and they find out that’s what been going on, there will be fines. A reliable remote backup procedure needs storage in a dedicated facility. The extent of that facility is relevant to the company but it will still come at a price – this is why business owners find it easier to turn a blind eye.

The Hassle of Remote Backup

Perhaps the main reason to why remote backup is so scarce among UK companies – it is a major hassle. Everyday you have to run a backup on a crummy legacy tape backup machine, switch the tapes over, take the tapes to the storage site, file them correctly, ensure your pick up the next days tape, repeating that process over and over and over and over forever more. It takes time, and the worst thing about it is, it’s only ever going to get harder. If a company’s aim is to grow, which I assume is most, the amount of data to backup is going to steadily increase over time making that backup process more and more cumbersome and time consuming.

On top of this, managers realise the fact that although backup is a process of great value, it is not actually value-adding. No matter how much attention or investment, it will not make you more efficient; it will not increase customer satisfaction and it will not make you more money. No wonder it rates poorly on the Managing Director’s ‘must improve’ list.

The Solution to Remote Backup

Keeping secure offsite copies of data no longer needs to be expensive, risky or stressful. Online backup solutions from Cloud Direct will automatically encrypt, transfer and store your data in military grade data centres straight from your server. There becomes no need to fumble around with tapes or pass the responsibility of backup internally ever again. Online backup takes care of the process for you. You can get on with the business of running your business – you have a remote backup policy in place. Simple, secure and offsite. 

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