In an industry as young as IT using the term “traditionally” is potentially dangerous and/or laughable, nonetheless fortunes have been made over the last few decades in developing backup techniques, software and hardware that have been in common use. These have been based around tape and tape libraries of various types and have usually required a great deal of manual intervention and supervision needing tapes changing, taking offsite etc. A major issue has always been the reliability of tapes themselves requiring frequent validation of the backups along with replacement/cycling of the media as it wore.
As the cost and hence availability of both storage and bandwidth has fallen dramatically over recent years, so backup over the internet has become cheaper, easier to adopt and use. It is now more readily available with a variety of service options and costs to suit all budgets.
Our purpose here is to give a summary of the specific advantages and disadvantages conferred by using it:
Advantages of cloud backup over traditional methods:
- Backups are stored in a different location from the original data where traditional backup requires manually taking the backup media offsite.
- User intervention is not required; the user does not have to change tapes, label CDs or other manual steps.
- Data retention is unlimited as remote data facilities are scalable and elastic to meet client requirements.
- Automatic backups.
- Backup services may offer the option to work continuously, so files are backed up files as changed.
- Backup services may offer the option to maintain a list of versions of your files.
- Backup services typically use a 128 - 448 bit encryption to send data over unsecured links (the internet)
- Backup services hold data stored with 128 - 448 bit encryption at the data centre so cannot be read without the encryption key.
- Some backup services are able to reduce backup by only transmitting changed binary data bits
Disadvantages of cloud backup over traditional methods:
- Restoration of data can be slow; speed is contingent on available network bandwidth. Said data can be recovered using either the Internet or shipped on a disk from the service provider.
- Some backup service providers may not guarantee stored data will be kept private from for example, employees. Consequently most recommend files are encrypted.
- The service provider could go out of business or be purchased, which may affect the accessibility of one's data and/or the cost to continue using the service.
- Should the encryption password be lost, data recovery will be impossible. Using managed services should mean this is not be a problem.