Most organisations are aware of 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 notebook - can all too easily put this data and therefore the business at risk.
Online Backup is the backup of computer data to a physically remote storage location using the internet as a transport mechanism.
The concept was first used in the very earliest days of the internet by universities and research organisation to protect valuable data.
Over the years the technology has developed and matured to the extent that non-technical users can easily and reliably protect their data.
Online backup has become a much more attractive option and provides a simple, secure, reliable and very affordable alternative to traditional backup methods.
What are the benefits of Online Backup?
Online backup is cheaper, faster and better than tape backup. Perhaps a bold statement, but here are some of the arguments:
Tape backup solutions although effective have a significant cost if they are to be effective, they need up front 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.
Online backup is Cheaper
- No capital outlay
- No set up fees or licence fees
- No staff time to change backup media (tapes, disks etc)
- No media storage costs
- Low operating costs
Online backup is Faster
- Only changed files require back up - No need to perform full backups (except 1st backup) .
- Restore the last or previous versions instantly - No need to find the right media.
Online backup is Better
- Automated daily backup provides comprehensive protection and zero hassle
- No 'backup holes' as with traditional backup methods
- Less down-time and lost productivity - files can be recovered instantly
- Web browser access to restore files when away from your computer
- Works with notebooks, PCs, file servers and network shares
- Secure technology
Who uses Online Backup?
Online backup is used by most large organisations with many thousands of smaller organisations 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.
Is Online Backup secure?
Online backup is secure. All data is encrypted to at least 128-bit level with the option to increase encryption to 448-bit before it leaves your system. The encryption is not removed until it is restored on your system. Data is never transmitted or stored un-encrypted, including during a restore process.
An account number, password, and a further optional encryption key all ensure that only the authorised user has access to the data.
Our data centres themselves are physically secure, incorporating fire suppression, backup power supplies, multiple ISP's and high-end firewall's. Our storage systems incorporate RAID-5 arrays with mirroring and clustering concepts 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.
What are the limitations of Online Backup?
As with any backup method there may be some practical limitations depending on your requirements in relation to the time taken to backup or restore. Outlined below is a summary of how this limitation may occur and mitigating factors.
Online backup requires an internet connection to work, therefore the volume of data to be transferred and consequently the time it takes to do this is a factor to consider if you create a very large amounts of new data on a daily basis or have large files (>500Mb). For broadband enabled users this is rarely a problem.
The initial full backup, which only requires to be completed once, will normally take considerably longer to complete than subsequent backups, which are significantly faster because only the compressed file changes are transmitted. These changes are typically at a 'binary' 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.
If those changes are typically only one or two megabytes per backup then a standard dial-up or ISDN connection is suitable. However if those changes were several hundred megabytes per backup then a dial-up connection would simply take too long to transmit. A broadband connection such as ADSL, Cable, DSL or Leased Line would be required. These have the advantage of faster transmission rates, no usage call charges and the ability to handle large volumes of data.
Therefore you can protect a very large amount of data on your system since the changes from backup to backup will normally be small in comparison with backups only taking short time to complete.
In a data recovery scenario again the limiting factor may the time taken to transmit the data. In most cases the immediate requirement is only for a relatively small number of files. With online backup both the last and previous versions of a file are immediately available and is nearly always considerably quicker than traditional methods where first you must retrieve the correct media (which should be offsite).
In the event of total data loss as a result of a disaster it is very unusual in our experience to require all the data immediately. In most disaster recovery cases only a subset of data is required for restoring to a temporary system whilst replacement equipment is located and configured. This subset can be restored immediately to minimise lost productivity. We can then deliver the remainder of your data, perhaps on a hard disk drive that could be plugged straight into your system, the next day.