The Experts All Agree:
- “A Company that experiences a computer outage lasting more than 10 days will never fully recover financially. 50% will be out of business within five years.
- An estimated 25% of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster
- 70% of small firms that experience a major data loss go out of business within a year.
- Of companies experiencing catastrophic data loss:
- 43% of companies never reopened
- 51% of companies closed within 2 years
- 80% of companies that do not recover from a disaster within one month are likely to go out of business.
- 75% of companies without business continuity plans fail within three years of a disaster
- Of those businesses that experience a disaster and have no emergency plan, 43% never reopen; of those that do reopen, only 29% are still operating two years later.”
Impact on U.S. Small Business of Natural and Man-Made Disasters, A compilation of public and private sector intelligence; Presented by HP and SCORE: Counselors to America’s Small Business; 2007.
Critical Considerations with Cloud backup solutions
Portable media is quickly becoming an outdated and expensive method for safeguarding important data, so it is essential to secure critical business assets and personal information with an easy-to-use, automated, online backup service as a complement to whatever backup solution you are using at the local level. You need proven technology that is user-friendly, reliable, ultra-secure and cost-effective.
Maybe you are of the camp that already knows how crucial it is to back up your data, offsite, but did you know that online backup can also be effortless once you set it up correctly? Wouldn’t it help make your life easier if these cloud backup solutions would offer several user-friendly features like simple installation, automatic backup, off-site storage, scalability and 24/7 file restoration? Believe it or not, such solutions do exist. Let’s talk about some of the things you will want to consider when you pick a cloud storage solution. Hint: It isn’t only how much per Gigabyte it will cost!
Let’s talk about security for a second. This is one of the most critical factors. You will want to find a solution that provides maximum security when backing up and archiving data. How do you do that? Well you will want to find a solution where files are first packaged to ensure that bandwidth is minimized during transmission of your data and then has that data encrypted using a 256-bit encryption key – that you choose – to ensure that files cannot be accessed by others if they should somehow happen upon your data file. For added security, you might look into a solution where each encrypted file is sent over the Internet via a secure channel, and then stored in at least a couple of redundant Type 2 or Level 4 compliant data centers, located some distance apart from each other to avoid catastrophic loss, if there were to be an earthquake or flood or some such disaster – so your data would be secure and available. There are approximately 150 Level 4 facilities across the US so access to them, through various vendors, may tend to be somewhat limited. It is not likely that you, as Mr or Mrs Business Owner, will be able to directly contact one of these data facilities and ask that they help you backup your data. Nevertheless it is a good idea to ensure that your offsite data backup is being stored in at least one of those secure facilities. The more likely scenario is that you will need to go through a trusted partner who will grant you access to one or more of these secure facilities via their service.
You will want to choose a secure online data backup solution which encrypts each file using 256-bit AES encryption technology. This will give you piece of mind knowing that your data is safe.
How strong is 256-bit AES encryption? Well, let’s put it this way. In June 2003, 256-AES was approved by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) for use encrypting the U.S. government’s documents classified “TOP SECRET.”
In addition to local encryption, you will want to be sure that the solution communicates with the backup servers using SSL (Secure Socket Layer) technology. This is the same encryption technology used by Internet browsers when a user enters a secured site such as an online bank. As a result, your data will be encrypted twice. It should be encrypted at all times using the 256-bit AES encryption, and it should be encrypted again while it’s being sent over the Internet.
As I mentioned earlier, you will want to be sure your encrypted data is stored in two secure online data backup centers, located at least hundreds of miles apart from each other. It would be great if they were on separate coasts. Each data center should also have 24/7 monitoring and advanced security measures, such as biometric controlled access, as well as backup generators and redundant connections to the Internet. This is to again be sure your data is accessible in the event of some major disaster. That is what you are paying for, right?
Forget installing drives and changing tapes. Those methods are labor-intensive and can take hours or even days to complete, depending upon the size of the business. Setting up your solution should be an easy, one-time event. You should be able to be backing up files automatically on a schedule of your choosing. In minutes not hours.
The problem with tapes and other manual means of backing up your data is the fact that it is a manual process making it necessary for an individual to handle it every time it is done. Automation is the key to making data backups pain free. In addition, if someone else gets your external hard drive or tape backup, what is to stop them from getting the data contained on it? Data backups should be completely automatic but you should have the ability to manually initiate a backup at any time if you choose to. Once installed, you should be able to create a backup set that contains the list of files that you want to backup along with a schedule for when you’d like backups to occur.
You should not have to select each and every file. The software should use easy-to-configure wizards to help you with that. Once you finish creating your backup set, the online backup software should calculate how much data you have chosen and show you how much.
Setting up your secure online backup schedule should, in effect, be very easy. You will also want to have the option of setting a different start time for each day of the week. You may also wish to avoid running backups on certain days. After the initial backup, subsequent backups should only take minutes to complete because only new or modified files should be uploaded. Your solution should be intelligent enough to figure that out for you or you may end up spending tons of time just figuring that part out.
With Online or Cloud Backup solutions, all backed up data should be automatically transmitted to off-site, geographically dispersed, data centers via a secure Internet channel. Not only does this protect your data from loss in the event of a natural or man-made disaster such as theft, but it also eliminates the hassle of having to physically transport tapes and drives off-site.
Have you had to catalog endless CDs or change tapes in the middle of a backup when space runs out? Your solution should eliminate the need to worry about purchasing more hardware to support your personal or business data growth. With the right solution, you can never run out of storage space. Your cloud storage solution should make it possible for your online storage account to grow with your needs.
File Restoration 24/7
Let’s face it – you could have the most powerful and most secure backup method around, but it is useless if you can’t easily recover your files when you need them. Restoring your files, after a local data loss, should be simple and fast.
You should be able to restore files when you want, as often as you want. You should have the ability to retrieve individual files, revisions of files, entire folders or backup sets or recover all of your data files in the event you experience a complete system failure or data loss.
A password should be required to restore any files, thus, preventing unauthorized restores, as per the HIPAA Security Rule.
In the event of a complete system failure, a full data recovery should be able to be initiated in just minutes. Do you really want to wait a long time to get your data back? Of course not! The recovery procedure should be able to be performed on any Windows-based computer – not just the computer where the data was originally backed up.
Logs and Reports
The problem with most online backup solutions is that there is not any way to tell if you have all of your files backed up. How do you know your backups actually worked? There needs to be some sort of logs and/ or reports to show you what was backed up and when. With detailed statistics and information about each file that is backed up or restored, you never have to wonder if your backups really worked. You can simply view the logs and reports whenever you like. Your cloud backup solution should have this feature as well.
Receive email notifications
If you want even more assurance that your backups are functioning, wouldn’t it be nice to have the option of receiving automatic email notifications following every successful backup? That would be very convenient and comforting and is offered in only some of the cloud solutions that are available.
Exchange and SQL Plugins
Let’s get more specific. If you are seeking a great solution as a business then you need the power to back up your Microsoft Exchange 2003, 2007, and 2010 databases as well as Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and 2008 databases. When you are considering Exchange, you need to be able to perform both full and incremental backups and with SQL, you will need to run both full and differential backups. Plus, you will need to be able to customize your backup schedule to lower the potential impact on your network.
Microsoft Exchange Plugin
If your solution has a Microsoft Exchange plugin, it should be able to perform live, secure Exchange backups according to Microsoft’s best practices. The Exchange plugin will need to run seamlessly in the background, never interrupting email flow otherwise you will be faced with shutting down email, etc. while you are running backups. Moreover, you should have the flexibility to perform individual mailbox level backups. With this second backup method, retrieving one lost or deleted email will no longer be a days-long procedure.
Microsoft SQL Server Plugin
Like with Exchange, your solution should offer a SQL Server Plugin where your server will never experience any downtime during a backup. The plugin should again run seamlessly in the background as a service, never interrupting or shutting down the SQL databases.
Hopefully, in this article, you have found some great information on the kinds of features you should be on the lookout for in a cloud-based backup solution for your business.