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All You Need To Know About Onsite Backup, Offsite Backup, Archive, and Disaster Recovery

How to tell which backup options are best for your data

How to tell which backup options are best for your data


If your active data was lost today, would you be able to restore it quickly?

How long can your business run if none of your employees had access to your data?

What would be the cost to your business?

Ideally, you will never need to restore data from your backups, but we live in a world where hardware fails, files get corrupted, hackers strike and natural disasters spoil the best-laid plans. If you aren’t already backing up your files regularly, now is the time to start.

Backing up your data, critical files, legal documents and in some cases you OS and application files enables you to recover and restore your files quickly. Your IT personnel should have a data backup plan in place to regularly create duplicates of important, active data as insurance against hardware failure, ransomware attack, corrupted files, natural (and man-made disasters) or any other catastrophic event.

Our advice is that you utilize both onsite and offsite backup systems to ensure the integrity and accessibility of your data.


Onsite vs. Offsite Backups

Onsite backup refers to dedicated hard drives where your duplicate data is stored on the premises. This allows for rapid recovery of your stored data without requiring you to have a strong internet connection. In general, this is a low-cost option: hard drives are inexpensive and easy to install and manage. This option does require planning to scale up as storage needs expand; an experienced IT manager can help you forecast and plan for additional storage.

Offsite backup is also called “cloud” backup. It refers to backing up data in a remote location via an internet connection. Cloud backup is typically stored on multiple servers at different locations to provide redundancy and ensure no single point of failure.

Cloud-based backup systems offer practically unlimited scalability, which is practically a necessity these days as your business data tends to grow with your business. Remember that when using an offsite backup service, you are contracting with a third-party and handing your data over to them; so ask questions about their data security and where the data is stored. Some industries have very specific rules around data storage locations!


Why should I have both types of backups?

In our opinion, assuming you still have onsite data and are not a 100% cloud-based company, a backup protocol that utilizes both onsite and offsite options is the best practice. But isn’t it redundant to have two backups, you ask?

Yes, that’s the point. Should one backup be unavailable or fail in some way, having a second data backup makes it that much more likely you can restore your precious data with minimal downtime and expense.

Imagine this scenario: Your IT personnel build a backup server and program it to regularly back up critical, active data on your company’s LAN. You choose not to invest in additional cloud backup because your IT manager assures you that the onsite backup server is more than up to the task and will be monitored closely. It hums along in the background, lights blinking diligently alongside the active servers in your server closet, faithfully running data backups every night at 3 AM. Then one night a pipe bursts, flooding the server room. Your servers are destroyed. Say bye-bye to active servers and backups.

Or suppose you lack physical space for a backup server, so you choose to rely solely on cloud backups. Your IT manager is confident this is the best option, plus it can be monitored remotely to make sure nothing goes wrong. Then a fire breaks out at the server farm in another province or state where your backups live in the cloud, wiping out a row of servers, including the one where your data is stored. And of course, that happens the same day someone in your office clicks on an attachment in an email from an unknown sender, exposing your entire computer network to a virus that spreads in minutes.

These may not be common occurrences, but they are certainly not improbable. In the first scenario, if the company had invested in offsite/cloud backups, then the data could be restored while the plumbers replaced the broken pipes. In the second scenario, if the company had found a spare closet or corner of an unused conference room for an onsite backup server, then IT personnel could simply restore the LAN back to a simpler, pre-virus time rather than address each infected system individually and hope the virus hasn’t corrupted too many files before they get there.


What are archives?

Sometimes people use “backup” and “archive” interchangeably. In this context, they are separate practices with distinct uses.

Backups refer to creating duplicate copies of active, live, changing data. It’s a short-term storage solution with new backups periodically overwriting previous backups.

Archives, on the other hand, are copies of data that are important to the company but no longer active. These could be data and files from a completed project, files created by an employee who is no longer with the company but may contain important information, legal documents, data a company is required to retain or files that simply have not been accessed for a certain amount of time. Moving that data to the archives eases the burden on faster, more frequently accessed storage systems while also maintaining a copy of the data.

At the end of the day, your company’s electronic files and data are critical to your business and should be safeguarded. How is your IT Manager ensuring the integrity and accessibility of those files in the face of potential compromise?


How CONNECT Does Backup Right

CONNECT stores all customer backup data on Canadian servers —a big deal for companies with serious concerns about privacy. Not only that, all of this data is backed up every night to our secure Canadian DataCentre. We also offer backup options for Office 365 email and for individual computers as part of our wide range of managed IT services.

We’re here for all your disaster recovery (DR) needs as well, in case of fire, theft, or flood.

Call CONNECT today and we’ll protect your data 24/7.

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