Case for Online Backups : FPA Technology Services, Inc.
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FPA provides "Worry Free, Fixed Fee" Managed IT Support Services so that our clients take a more proactive and cost effective approach to managing and maintaining their IT Infrastructure.
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GENERAL RESOURCES

The Case for Online Backups

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June 24, 2009

It cannot be overstated enough that every company must have a secure, efficient, and reliable backup process in place. Almost everyone has experienced some form of data loss and whether the loss is minor or crippling is often times a matter of perspective. Unfortunately, an instance of data loss is the needed wakeup call to review the current backup methodology and many business owners don’t uncover the flaws in their backup process only AFTER data loss has already occurred. In typical backup failure scenarios, critical data cannot be recovered because it has been lost or deleted, the latest version of a data file was not backed up in a timely fashion, or because the hardware used to store the data has become corrupt.  More often than not, this is due to the difference between the expectations of the business owner and the performance of the one responsible for the backups.  For many businesses, online backups are becoming more and more of a successful alternative to address and prevent these sorts of problems.

Online backup solutions offer businesses the ability to secure their data off premises giving the added protection in case of natural disasters (fire, flood, earthquake, etc.) or catastrophic system failures.  With the current accessibility of high speed internet access so prevalent, online backup solutions have become more and more cost effective. 

Pros & Cons of Online Backup Solutions

There are a few advantages that an online backup solution offers over the current industry standard tape or disk based backup.  They do not as easily fall prey to corruption, theft or natural disasters like their local counterparts.  They also offer different levels of security and process automation which is more significant for some companies than others. They also may or may not be more cost effective than a local solution.  Specific points of differentiation between some of the online backup solutions available include:

  • Full process automation & removal of middle man from data retrieval process
  • No need for upfront equipment fees; this is replaced by a monthly subscription
  • Availability of remote, online access to data by any number of authorized users
  • Enhanced encryption/decryption security options
  • Ability to schedule automatic backup times or to have backups made in real time
  • Ability to sort data by version history, quickly and in one place

While online backups offer some benefits that local backup system cannot provide, they also have their own pitfalls:

  • The initial backup procedure can be very taxing and time consuming because all data must be encrypted and transmitted over the internet
  • An outside, privately-owned third party is responsible for all backed up data
  • Your data is now located outside of your control
  • The Process relies entirely on an internet connection which may have limitations and restrictions
  • Data retrieval can become costly or time consuming since disks may need to be shipped for data recovery ultimately increasing system downtime
  • It could be cost or time prohibitive based on the amount of data needing to be backed up

Questions to Ask Before Investing in a Solution

When choosing an online backup solution, it's critical to evaluate the service on various levels.  Some questions to consider include:

  • How long are old data versions stored?
  • What is the monthly cost and how does this compare to competitors' offerings?
  • Does the solution continuously backup data in real time, allow the user to schedule an automatic daily backup, or are both alternatives available?
  • How does the solution treat deletions -- is all data preserved or is the solution intended for archiving?
  • Does the solution backup currently open files?
  • Does the solution backup Email or Database files?
  • Is the interface user-friendly and intuitive?
  • At which points in the initial transmission/retrieval process is the data encrypted and decrypted and at which security level?
  • Which featured add-ons will benefit my business most?

In our perspective, having the best of both worlds – a local backup along with an online solution – provides a “belt and suspenders” approach.  Any way you look at it, the most important component of a backup solution is the accuracy of the retrieval process.  If you can’t restore your data or you can’t restore it in a timely fashion, then it’s no different than having no backup at all.


For more information, to review your current backup process, or to discuss any business continuity issue, please feel free to contact us.