Online Backup Advantages and Disadvantages

24 Jul 2013

In our previous blog about ‘Online Backup and The Myths’ we touched on the increasing popularity of remote, online, or managed backup services, sometimes marketed as cloud backup.

Just to recap, and to put simply: Online Backup is an offsite service that provides users with a system for the storage and recovery of files and data.

Online backup has allot of advantages over traditional backup methods such as memory sticks, cards, discs and tapes. However, like everything though, online backup naturally has some disadvantages too. Below we explore both...

Online backup advantages over traditional backup methods...

  • Data is stored offsite - Perhaps the most important aspect of online backup is that your data is stored in a different location from the original data. This protects your files from onsite risks such as floods, fire or employee theft. Traditional backup requires manually taking the backup media offsite.
  • Removes user intervention & manual steps - Online backup doesn’t require someone to change tapes over or label and store multiple CDs or memory sticks. Online backup removes that user intervention or other manual steps; saving time and money.
  • Automatic Backups - Online backup records changes at each subsequent backup, in accordance with an automated schedule you have chosen. The process comes with built-in ‘retry’ to account for any possible disruptions; unlike the unreliability of human error or hardware or software faults of traditional backup methods. Some remote backup services will work continuously, backing up files as they are changed.
  • Fully Encrypted Backups - Most remote backup services will use a 128 - 448 bit encryption to send data links such as the internet. At BackupVault our system uses AES 256bit encryption; the trusted, industry standard.
  • Unlimited Data Backup - Unlimited data retention (presuming the backup provider stays in business).
  • Most remote backup services will maintain a list of versions of your files.
  • A few remote backup services can reduce backup by only transmitting changed binary data bits.

Disadvantages

  • Whilst storing data offsite can be a huge advantage, avoiding USBs going in the wash with your jacket, or discs being scratched or lost. Depending on the available network bandwidth, the restoration of data from online backup can be slow. Because data is stored offsite, the data must be recovered either via the Internet or via a disk shipped from the online backup service provider.
  • Some backup service providers have no guarantee that stored data will be kept private — for example, from employees. However this is easily overcome and most recommend that files be encrypted to prevent this.
  • Like every business, it is a possibility that the online backup service provider could also go out of business or be purchased; which may affect the accessibility of your data or the cost to continue using the service.
  • If the encryption password is lost, data recovery will be impossible. However with managed services this should not be a problem. But whatever you do, do not lose that encryption key!
  • If you are using residential broadband services, they can often have monthly limits that can preclude large backups.