You’re probably wondering what to look for if you’re a small or medium-sized business looking to make the switch to an offsite cloud backup model. To determine if cloud backup is the right solution for your small business, consider these five points before making the move to a offsite cloud service provider (SP):

Benefits versus cost
Cost plays a big part in most decisions and cost will come up when you are considering moving your backups to the cloud. To start the process, I would suggest choosing three service providers (SP) that you feel comfortable with and performing an analysis of their costs compared to their benefits. Factors that should come into consideration are, length of time the SP has been in business, does the SP offer a no-obligation trial, does the SP have any hardware/security accreditation and most importantly does the SP keep at least two copies of your data in two different locations?

Redundancy, which is now practically standard at this point, is also a very important requirement. Backend redundancy gives you an extra layer of protection by keeping at least two copies of your data in two different physical locations operated by the service provider (SP). This protects your data in case of the unlikely event that the SP’s data center experiences a catastrophic disaster such as natural disaster.

Bandwidth limitations
It is not a well known fact that many low cost service providers (SP) will limit their upload/download speeds making your backups/restores slower during peak backup times. Some SPs even go so far to limit the file size that you can upload! To avoid these restrictive SPs, I suggest reviewing the SPs Terms of Service, which is usually available on their web site, or posing them the question.

Data encryption
Data encryption is a requirement for anyone looking to utilize a cloud backup service provider (SP) because you will never want your data going over the internet without being encrypted. Without encryption your sensitive data could be read as if it was in plain text! The majority of SPs use standard encryption algorithms. With this being said there are still two important questions that need to be asked. The first question to ask is if your data is encrypted BEFORE going over the internet and does your data rest encrypted in the cloud. Both questions are important to ask as they will guarantee your data’s security.

Local backup copies
Most offsite backup providers allow you to keep any number of backup generations in the cloud that you wish, as long as you pay for them, but what about local backup copies? Local backup copies are useful for fast restores and as a second protection point. Ask your service provider of choice if local backups are offered and at what price.

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For 20 plus years, many businesses have been backing up their data to tape. Tape backup was the most efficient method of backup of its time and stayed this way until fairly recently. As time progressed, it became apparent that tape backups were becoming obsolete and that a better solution was needed. Disk based cloud backup solutions were the answer and eliminated the hurdles associated with traditional tape backups.

Why Choose Offsite Cloud Backup Over Traditional Tape Backup?

What were the problems associated with traditional tape backup?

The biggest and most time consuming job was managing the tapes after a backup was performed. This required either yourself or another employee at the company to spend valuable time, changing, storing and rotating the physical tapes at backup time and even trying to find the correct tape at restore time!. If a company had multiple locations, this job became even more cumbersome. To add more difficulty to the problem, tape backup users would also be faced with verifying the data on the tapes, physical tape corruption or damage (all tapes will eventually fail for a fact), running regular disaster recovery exercises and the element of human error. We didn’t even mention the cost associated with tapes, tape loaders and other expensive software and hardware required to run a tape based backup solution.

Advantages of disk based cloud backup

Offsite cloud backup has many advantages over traditional tape backups including cost savings, reliability and speed. Remote offsite cloud backup centers running ROBOBAK provide today’s businesses a safe and reliable method to protect their mission critical data from the most common elements of data loss which include backup media expiration, human error, theft, and major natural disasters such as fires, floods, hurricanes etc… The ROBOBAK Offsite cloud based backup solution provides users with peace of mind knowing that their data is safe, encrypted and replicated allowing users to sleep better at night.

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As time progresses, more and more backup applications (including ROBOBAK) are becoming Volume Shadow Copy (VSS) aware. VSS is a technology developed by Microsoft that allows a backup application to safely backup locked and open files. VSS works by creating a snapshot of the entire drive and then provides this information to the backup application so that the application can utilize the snapshot.

Volume Shadow Copy is supported on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003/2008, Windows 7 and above. Both the backup application and software application must be VSS aware to utilize VSS to backup open and locked files. Legacy applications tend to NOT be VSS aware, forcing users to find other methods to backup those open and locked files. Other options to backup open and locked files include open file drivers and Pre/Post scripts to shut off/start an application before and after backup so that the data’s integrity is guaranteed.

Some VSS Limitations:

– Only supported on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7 and above.
– Only local disks are supported.
– Windows XP only allows one shadow volume to be created per drive at any one time.
– The software program that created the open or locked files needs to support VSS.
– The Microsoft Volume Shadow Service must be enabled in the O/S.
– The machine must have devices that are enabled and associated with the Volume Shadow Service.
– The system must have an NTFS partition that must exist on an internal drive, with at least 100MB of free space for the shadow copies.
– The drive that contains locked files must have free space available.
– VSS can fail if there is too much disk activity.

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