Data backups and data storage are different things. Why do they matter for your business?
This article will examine cloud storage and cloud backups of your data, including the pros and cons of both.
We’ll also consider the storage of archived data and we’ll detail how data backups are used as part of your disaster recovery strategy.
Cloud storage includes all of your company’s data and, generally, in-house produced or other specially-written software. Some of the benefits and risks of using cloud storage include:
All of your data is stored in the cloud, it can be accessed from anywhere at any time, on any device. Your staff could work from home or stop at a cafe on their way across town to check emails. They can access notes and presentations for meetings held at client sites. They will be able to go through their emails on the daily commute to work and be prepared for the day as they step through the door.
Now all of your data is stored in one centralised location, your employees will be able to easily collaborate with each other and with your clients, too.
This is useful for project teams, for instance. They can jointly write documents, accessing the same file as needed to add their area of expertise to the content. You will be able to share design documentation and test plans with clients and review and feedback on each others’ work.
Moving all your data to cloud storage is cost-effective for most organisations. There will be no need to purchase and maintain expensive servers and data storage devices or to have employees monitor the equipment. The cost of upgrading, replacing and maintaining hardware is part of your monthly service fee.
Grow with your business
As your business grows, your system and data requirements do, too. When your data is stored in the cloud you don’t have to worry about having to store twice the volume of data planned, your cloud service provider will take care of it for you.
Cloud storage automatically keeps previous versions of your data and files. This task used to be done by a data configuration controller with expensive software. It can be useful to revisit previous versions of documents to spot where changes were made. If a file is accidentally overwritten a previous version is always available.
Now all your data is stored online, you are subject to internet performance. If local bandwidth issues slow your access to the internet this will affect your download and upload speeds and your ability to access data stored in the cloud. If the internet is not available where you are, then neither are your files or data!
It’s vital you work with professional, well-regarded cloud service providers. Ask questions and read reviews. The company you choose should be able to reassure you about concerns you may have, including:
You need to know the security and privacy of your data is assured. Your customers and employees will not be delighted if their details are sold for a marketing campaign.
We are all aware “the cloud” is “somebody else’s computer system”, however, for some organisations, it matters where their data is held (where the cloud system holding the data is located). The Australian government and departments, for instance, insist their data is always stored within Australia.
When your data is stored off-site, your organisation may lose the ability to customise the data storage setup. Probably not an issue for small to medium companies this may present a problem for large organisations with complex data.
Beware of your contract with your cloud storage providers. You may overestimate the amount of data to be stored or your requirements may change and you store less data than planned. If you have a fixed-price contract, you may be at a disadvantage and still have to pay the original monthly fee despite reduced requirements.
In the event you have a disagreement with your cloud service provider, you may decide to change providers. You may find it difficult to migrate all of your data to a new cloud service and ensure it is all removed from the previous service.
Online data backups
As with data storage, above, it is important to partner with a cloud backup service provider with a strong reputation. There may be advantages or desirable features available from some service providers but not others. Some of the possible pros and cons of cloud data backups include:
Previously, organisations planned data backups to run in quieter periods, like overnight, to reduce the risk of large amounts of data being transferred impacting your network speed.
Cloud backup no longer requires users to send the data to backup. Modern systems are automated. The software constantly scans for changes and backs up data automatically.
This process of mirroring means your backup data is the same as your live data. If you have an IT disaster and need to refresh your IT system from backed up data it will be in the same state as when your system failed and you will be able to restart trading immediately.
Backing up your data on a separate network and in a different location can help protect your business from certain security threats.
If you suffer a data breach you will have access to your backed up data as soon as your system has been cleansed of any malicious agent.
If you have a local power cut, you can simply move your laptop to somewhere with power and internet access and carry on working.
Disaster Recovery planning
Having secure, accessible backed up data is vital to ensure business continuity in the event of an IT disaster. Your disaster recovery strategy should be tested and should enable your organisation to get back to successful, normal trading as quickly as possible.
In the event you have hardware issues, or need to replace your existing hardware, you will be able to quickly load up all required data from backups and get your new/refreshed hardware running quickly.
Data backed up online, or in the cloud is accessible via the internet. If the internet is unavailable, or slow in the location your data is backed up, this will impact your ability to quickly restore data and get your IT systems back up and running.
The point of backing up data is to have a set of clean, easily restorable files to access in the event of an IT disaster. Such a disaster can range from a power outage to a natural disaster, such as flooding or an earthquake. It is important to make sure backed up data is located in a different place to the rest of your data, otherwise you could lose it all at the same time!
As with online data storage, make sure you do some research before choosing a data backup service provider. You will want to remain confident in the security and privacy of your data.
Data retention and data archives
There is another type of data not needed for the business of the company and is not required as part of disaster recovery but must be stored, regardless.
Many companies have data they no longer need to access on a day-to-day basis but they must retain to comply with government or industry rules and standards.
Employee records, including employment details and pay rates, must be kept by a company for seven years in case a government Fair Work Inspector or the employee themselves require access.
The website of the Australian Tax Office states certain employee records, including super contributions, the employees’ super fund choice form and records of fringe benefits must all be retained for five years.
An organisation may have internal retention rules for data on completed projects or purchases. This data is probably not needed to be accessed again for normal business but is to be archived because of the retention requirements.
This type of data is likely to be added to the backed-up data online as it is no longer required for the business but there may be a future need to quickly access the records.
Starboard IT offers expertise, reputation and peace of mind!
At Starboard IT, we are proud of our great reputation gained over years of experience and many delighted customers.
We are experts in the provision of cloud services. Including disaster recovery planning. Our solutions include continuous data backups and a proven and tested disaster recovery procedure.
We will help your organisation to enjoy all the benefits of cloud storage and a tried and tested online data backup facility.
Check out our online review and get in touch for more information.