Can we just back up to Google?

The answer is “almost”, in that there are a number of cloud-based backup solutions that work really well for PCs. By this, I mean that there are now businesses that offer storage of your data files across the internet, as a backup to your PC hard drive.

And, there are some clear benefits to this kind of cloud-based, offsite backup:

  • Regular updates.
  • More than one version can be recovered.
  • Distance between the two data sets adds protection from environmental hazards.
  • Speed of small file recovery can be momentary, as downloads of small files are fast (ie. Faster than switching tapes to find the right version).
  • Processes can be automated to remove risk of human failure (eg. Changing tapes).
  • Processes can be checked by a remote manager to ensure collected data is sound.
  • Off-site data can be replicated to an additional location for further protection from loss.
  • Off-site data can be encrypted for security, rather than left accessible on tapes or hard drives.
  • Costs are coming down as competition grows, and storage gets cheaper.
  • Associated software is continuing to improve.

We use cloud-based backup at home, and so should you. In fact, if you run a micro-business, this kind of backup solution is probably ideal. I’m sure, for example, that the people in Marysville who had data at work, backup at home, and a copy at the local accountants, all wish they had used cloud-based backup to protect their files.

The good news is that the storage is pretty cheap. The bad news is that you may blow your data limit for a month or two, sending your data up to the cloud.
If you are considering a cloud-based solution, you should:

  • Check your data limits with your internet provider.
  • Check how much data is going to be replicated or moved.
  • Ensure you remain within your limits, or increase them for a month with your provider.
  • Ensure you do not pay for any excess data on your plan.
  • Monitor the progress of the upload.
  • Possibly start close to the end of a billing cycle if you have a shaped plan.

The bad news is that this does not work very well if you run a business with significant amounts of data. When a client asked me this question last week, we did the sums and it would literally have taken all of their bandwidth at peak load for over four months to complete the upload of their data archives.

There is a solution for larger clients though, which involves a two-step process set up by specialist firms who handle cloud-based or online backup solutions. This involves taking a base image on hard drives that is transferred physically to the off-site data store, and then only replicating the daily changes to the files.

If you’re considering this kind of solution, seek advice and ensure there are good agreements in place to protect your business. And make sure you’re dealing with a reputable company, as there are some backyard companies and IT consultants out there claiming to offer this service, but failing to put real solutions in place.

Click here to read more IT Systems expert advice.

David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that ensures IT is never an impediment to growth.

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