Understanding cloud backup: How it functions and why it’s essential

  • Cloud backup, also known as online or remote backup, involves sending a duplicate of a physical or virtual file or database to an off-site location for safekeeping.
  • The backup server and data storage are typically managed by a third-party cloud or SaaS provider, with costs based on various factors such as storage space and data retrieval frequency.
  • Adopting cloud backup enhances data protection, business continuity, and regulatory compliance, making it a crucial strategy for modern organisations.

Cloud backup, commonly referred to as online backup or remote backup, entails transferring a copy of a physical or virtual file or database to an off-site location managed by a third-party provider. This method ensures that in the event of equipment failure, site disaster, or human error, data remains secure and accessible. By incorporating cloud backup, organisations can significantly improve their data protection, business continuity, and compliance strategies, while also alleviating the burden on IT staff.

What is cloud backup and how does it function?

Cloud backup, also referred to as online backup or remote backup, entails sending a duplicate of a physical or virtual file or database to an alternative, off-site location for safekeeping in the event of equipment failure, site disaster, or human wrongdoing. The backup server and data storage systems are typically maintained by a third-party cloud or SaaS provider, which charges the backup customer a recurring fee based on storage space or capacity used, data transmission bandwidth, number of users, number of servers, or frequency of data retrieval.

Adopting cloud data backup can enhance an organisation’s data protection, business continuity, and regulatory compliance strategies without overburdening IT staff. The efficiency gains can be considerable and sufficient to justify some of the additional expenses associated with cloud backup, such as data transmission fees.

Most cloud subscriptions operate on a monthly or yearly basis. Originally utilised predominantly by consumers and home offices, online backup services are now commonly embraced by SMBs and larger enterprises for certain data backups. For larger corporations, cloud data backup can serve as an adjunct form of backup.

Also read: Securing your remote workforce with Aegis cloud backup solutions

Cloud backup applications and methodologies

Within an organisation’s data centre, a backup application duplicates data and archives it on different media or alternative storage systems, facilitating swift access in case of recovery requirements. Although there are various options and strategies for off-site backup, cloud backup emerges as a prevalent choice for many organisations. In an enterprise setting, the off-site server may be owned by the company if it operates its private cloud service. However, if the company utilises a service provider to manage the cloud backup environment, it will receive a regular bill for backup storage and services.

There are diverse approaches to cloud backup, with available services that seamlessly integrate into an organisation’s existing data protection framework. These encompass:

Direct backup to the public cloud: Organisational workloads can be stored by duplicating resources in the public cloud. This method involves writing data directly to cloud providers like AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure. The organisation utilises its backup software to create a data copy for transmission to the cloud storage service. While the cloud storage service offers data storage and security, it does not inherently provide a backup application. Hence, compatibility with the cloud’s storage service is crucial. Additionally, supplementary data protection measures such as encryption and access management may be necessary to safeguard backed-up data when employing public cloud options.

Backup to a service provider: In this scenario, an organisation transfers data to a cloud service or SaaS provider offering backup services in a managed data centre. The backup software may be provided as part of the service, or the service might support specific commercially available backup applications.

Cloud-to-cloud (C2C) backup: Among the latest offerings, C2C backup services specialise in backing up data residing in the cloud, whether created using a SaaS application or stored in a cloud backup service. These services copy data from one cloud to another and typically host the software facilitating this process.

Online cloud backup systems: Hardware alternatives are available to facilitate data backup to a cloud backup service. These appliances encompass all-in-one backup machines equipped with backup software, disk capacity, and a backup server. They offer a seamless link to one or more cloud backup services or providers, retaining the most recent backup locally and in the cloud for efficient recoveries.

Also read: A look at cloud data management

Why cloud backup is important?

Reliability: Storing data off-site offers your team a level of flexibility. By utilising cloud backup, you shield your data from various forms of loss, whether stemming from natural disasters, human mistakes, or ransomware attacks. While your organisation may encounter these challenges, the assurance of data protection during crises is a reassuring aspect.

Cloud backup providers typically assure reliability through additional data management features, continuous monitoring, and reporting. Some products even incorporate threat detection capabilities, promptly alerting both providers and users to potential issues affecting their data. Consequently, cloud backup instils a sense of security within your team, knowing that your data is securely stored away from magnets or malicious actors.

Someone is using cloud backup.

Scalability: Unlike on-premises backup solutions, cloud backup software doesn’t necessitate additional hardware or software licenses. This initial reduction in startup costs associated with backup is advantageous. Moreover, cloud backup software often handles tasks like deduplication and backup size reduction for users.

Pricing plans for cloud backup are flexible, accommodating users’ evolving data storage and backup requirements. As data needs expand, users can simply upgrade their plans with their provider, with many vendors allowing for plan downgrades if necessary. Cloud backup proves beneficial for organisations experiencing rapid growth beyond their on-premises storage capacity. Furthermore, since there’s no hardware to upgrade or reconfigure, employing a cloud backup provider alleviates logistical burdens, saving costs for your team.

Nevertheless, concerns arise regarding data recovery or migration speed. Some vendors may levy additional fees for expedited uploads and recoveries. Hence, it’s essential to devise a strategy for data retrieval should your organisation opt to terminate service with a particular vendor.

Flexibility: Cloud backup encompasses features such as data syncing, mirroring, instant restore, and more, surpassing options available with on-premises backup solutions. With constant market competition, cloud backup solutions continuously introduce enhancements to the process, which IT teams may lack the time to research and implement independently.

Furthermore, as data resides in the cloud, it becomes accessible from any location. Enhanced data accessibility empowers team members to retrieve data while working remotely, proving invaluable during disasters. However, a drawback arises when internet access is unavailable, hindering data retrieval.

Discussions about device compatibility for data access become obsolete. Cloud backup solutions typically enable users to retrieve their data from any device, enhancing data recovery flexibility.

Security & Compliance: Many cloud backup solutions offer data policy and regulation management, mitigating the risk of potential fines and penalties. Cloud backup software ensures not only data integrity but also its protection. Encrypted data transfer from end to end enhances data security, reducing the likelihood of compromise when data is copied to multiple locations.

Moreover, cloud backup solutions address regulatory compliance for users. However, adherence to specific rules and regulations varies based on factors such as your organisation’s industry and country of origin. Therefore, verifying that a product aligns with your team’s compliance requirements is crucial.


Lydia Luo

Lydia Luo, an intern reporter at BTW media dedicated in IT infrastructure. She graduated from Shanghai University of International Business and Economics. Send tips to j.y.luo@btw.media.

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