You’ve probably heard this one before – oh, I’ve got a backup. I backup to external USB drive every day, or every week, or once a month, etc. Many people think that just backing up to a tape drive or a USB drive is still a good way to go.
There are many reasons why this is no longer the case. We’re going to talk about and disseminate many of them here in this article.
Once upon a time, people had tape drives. They backed up their servers to tapes. When they needed to restore from a tape, they had this giant library of tapes (hopefully labelled) that they’d need to sift through. If you were lucky, you’d have labelled tapes, one from each day, or maybe one from each week. You’d pop in the tape you needed to restore and restore your data. However, you’d have to reinstall your operating system first, and the tape would just get your files back that you needed – not your applications, or any licensing information, or any configuration of any of those applications.
Fast forward to today. People do file based backups on USB. They likely never run a test restore, so have no idea if the data they backup is even valid, useable or worthwhile to perform the backup. But they do it anyways, and go about their day, and never really worry or wonder about whether the USB backups they have on that USB drive that floats around between offices or sit’s on so and so’s executive computer desk is really needed or not – until the time that it is.
Few people do test restores of their data
As mentioned, it’s great that you backup to that ancient USB drive, but do you ever try to restore your data? Do you know what’s involved, or even how to restore from that USB drive? If you had to restore data from it, what kind of data can you get back and how long? Do you still need to re-install Windows or Windows server first? Are you able to recover any applications from that data?
What happens if the USB drive falls down, is lost, stolen or consumed by a disaster like a fire?
The truth is that hoarding a bunch of USB drives in the server room (labelled or not) is a vulnerable method. Vulnerable to so many things. USB drives, like all forms of technology and media degrade. This is one of the reasons why you don’t see DVD drives floating around much these days as a form of digital media – they degrade, and we can download so quickly over the Internet now they’ve become obsolete.
Having your data on any form of removable media means that it’s vulnerable. It’s vulnerable to being stolen, to someone getting curious and picking it up. It’s vulnerable to being destroyed in a disaster like a fire. It’s vulnerable to one day, just not working anymore. The drive could be dropped, or it’s just too old and computers won’t read the media anymore.
Why is cloud based backup solutions better?
A cloud based backup solution is a better solution for many reasons:
- Data is not stored onsite. If there is a disaster, data can be restored from the cloud. Even if the building burns up and everything is lost (hopefully no human lives), all of your company data is secure in the cloud. This could mean accounting data and your customer data which is critical in order to continue running your business.
- Some cloud based backup solutions allow you to use cloud based technologies to get up and running faster. Say that your server stops working, or there is a disaster. Cloud based solutions allow you to “spin up” a server in the cloud, which can function as a temporary or even permanent replacement to allow you to continue working.
- Cloud based solutions can allow you to access your company files from anywhere in the world, so you can be more mobile, as opposed to all of your files and infrastructure being on-premise and being less flexible, and less mobile.
- Solutions are available that also allow you to restore to bare metal, or as a virtual machine. If you have lost the server, or you need to restore an entire computer, operating system or server, you can do a bare metal restore which will restore the entire operating system with the files and applications the same way it was setup before. This can save hours upon hours of time to reinstall everything and re-configure it the way it was before the problem happened.