Can I trust online backup services with my data?

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We are great believers in taking precautions to protect business data, and we go to great lengths to recommend backup and disaster recovery solutions that manage foreseeable and unforeseeable risks. Amongst the traditional forms of data backup, online backup solutions are a practical and a sensible option to ensure that a copy of your business data is stored in a safe and secure location that is also physically distant from your business premises.

But, how can you feel safe in trusting your business data with an online backup service?

Handing over your sensitive business information to a service you cannot see or inspect does not at first glance seem like a good idea, and there are very good reasons to consider and choose carefully when considering an online backup service for your business.

There are a number of practical ways to ensure the safety of your information, and we would recommend at least the following –

1. Know the company behind the service

It may seem obvious, but looking into the company that provides the service you are considering is an important starting point. You want to be confident that the company has an established record of providing a reliable service, and that they offer guarantees to back their claims. Also, an Australian based company operating within Australia is more likely to be bound by Australian law, which may mean that you are better placed to enforce your rights should the need arise.

2. Confirm where your information will be stored

Aside from the potential legal benefits of knowing that your data is being stored within Australia there may be practical benefits in terms of the speed of access that make a service based in an Australian data centre or facility preferable to one based offshore. The storage location within Australia may also be relevant as the speed of data recovery in an emergency can be improved if the data is stored in a nearby city or state.

3. Check who will have access to your information, and how access will be controlled

Different online backup services address privacy concerns in different way, but where privacy is a key concern a service where you nominate and exclusively hold an encryption key to your data is ideal. Under that arrangement your data cannot be accessed or even recognised by anyone, including the company holding your backup data, unless they know the encryption key. This also means that if you forget the encryption key you cannot access your data!

4. Understand how you will be able to access your data, and how quickly

The speed of uploading and downloading backup copies of your information on a regular basis (typically nightly) is important, and without adequate transfer speed an online backup service may be ineffective, but a further consideration is how you will access your data in ‘bulk’ in an emergency. Consider the scenario where a key system has failed and your onsite form of backup is also not available; you can download a full copy of your system from the online service, but the time required for this can be counted in days rather than hours. An alternative approach, in an emergency, is for your data to be quickly copied to a portable drive and then collected or delivered to you, eliminating the delay of downloading the information.

Of course, there are many other aspects of an online backup service that should be considered as well, but we believe that if you are satisfied in the four key areas listed above then you will at least have established that the service can be trusted with your business information.

In our own evaluation of online backup service providers we considered a wide range of factors, and were quite exhaustive in our testing of various services. The end result of our search was Cloud Backup, our online backup solution. Many customers have chosen to use Cloud Backup to replace other forms of backup, and in many cases the elimination of manually swapping portable drives was the main motivation.

If you would like to consider online backup as part of your overall backup solution we would encourage you to make contact with us to discuss your options.

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