What is Cloud Backup?
Cloud backup is a process in which data stored in a physical location is replicated and sent over a network to another, remote, location in the cloud to protect it from loss or corruption. Organizations choose information backup in the cloud to keep their data safe and accessible in case of a hardware or software failure, outage, or disaster—either natural or a cyberattack such as ransomware. Because all backup software and infrastructure is hosted and managed by the cloud provider, cloud backup is also known as backup as a service (BaaS).
The Importance and Benefits of Cloud Backup
Cloud backup keeps data safe and protected. It automates the copying and safeguarding of data in a remote location. Without protection like this, organizations could lose valuable data during hurricanes, floods, system failures, or cyberattacks.
The popularity of cloud backup is growing because organizations are increasingly dependent upon their data for daily operations. Many on-premises backup solutions require copies of data to be physically transported to an offsite location regularly and physically retrieved if restoration is required. Because this process involves many manual steps, it is more time consuming and less reliable than cloud-based backup and recovery.
Cloud backup solutions are:
- Easy to use – They eliminate the need to manually move copies of data made onsite onto tape or other media to an offsite location
- Accessible – Cloud backups can be made available anytime from anywhere with an internet connection
- Automatic – Backup data jobs are based on policies the organization sets. Users can easily adjust these policies at any time and once established, policies do not require manual oversight
- Secure – Data can be encrypted before sending it to the cloud
- Reliable – Cloud backup helps not only ensure data protection but is a reliable resource for long-term data retention
- Cost-effective – Teams gain on-demand, scalable, and low-cost capacity that helps to prevent data loss
- Improves productivity – Cloud backup frees IT staff to focus on higher-value work, since they don’t need to manage on-prem backup software and infrastructure
- Fast – Organizations can quickly back up critical files and restore data at a rate greatly accelerated over manually restoring from tape
The Difference Between Cloud Storage and Cloud Backup
Cloud storage and cloud backup share a common goal: to securely store data in a safe, offsite location, and make it easy to retrieve when organizations need it. Both use the cloud as the destination for data. Both are highly scalable—giving teams as much capacity as needed. After that, differences exist.
Cloud storage supplements on-prem data storage, only in an offsite location in the cloud. It gives you access to the data stored within it from anywhere, at any time, using any device with an internet connection.
Cloud backup, in contrast, is specifically designed to replicate and store data so you can restore it if it is lost or damaged.
Another important difference between the two is this: cloud storage is a manual process. You have to physically enter all the files you want to be stored in the cloud. Alternatively, most BaaS options automatically save files stored onsite, based on the preferences you set through policies.
There are also differences in security. With cloud storage, your data files are encrypted only when they reach the cloud server, not before. Cloud backup or BaaS solutions, on the other hand, encrypt files before transferring them to the cloud, making the operation more secure.
What Is the Best Cloud Backup?
The best cloud backup solutions meet the following criteria:
- Fast recovery, particularly from ransomware – The ability to rapidly recover your files is one of the top attributes you look for in a cloud backup provider. In the unfortunate event that you are hit by a ransomware attack or lose data, you want it back as soon as possible.
- Frequent backups – How often your data and files are backed up is also critical. Shorter intervals are better for important information—at a minimum daily, if not hourly. Without small backup intervals, you won’t completely recover all your data.
- Flexible retention – Some data you might want to keep for 30 days, other data you may want to keep for months or even years, depending on business or regulatory requirements. The cloud backup service should provide for flexible data retention.
- Infinite scalability – You don’t want a limit on the number of files or volume of data that you can backup. With cloud backup, this shouldn’t be an issue because of the scalability of the cloud, but always check to make sure.
- Ease of use – You should be able to easily manage all backup and recovery activities from one place using a “single pane of glass” for complete data visibility.
- Flexible pricing – Look for pricing flexibility to meet your business and application needs. Options for per-gigabyte, per-user, or flat rate plans give you greater choice and flexibility.
- Secure – The best cloud backup solutions will protect your data and use air-gapping to ensure a clean copy is always available.
How Do I Back Up to the Cloud for Free?
Free cloud backup services are typically limited-time offers (such as 30-day trials at no charge) to give organizations access to full-featured solutions without having to make financial commitments upfront. Fewer operate a “freemium” model, in which you get a limited form of the service for free, but pay a monthly (or annual) subscription fee to get additional functionality. This model tends to limit the volume of files or data you can back up. With any free backup service, it will be important to ask about security and privacy practices, including rapid ransomware recovery.
While free is a good way to test a solution, businesses generally need to pay for a robust backup service to get the comprehensive ongoing backup support they require.
How Much Does Cloud Backup Cost?
Cloud backup costs vary, typically with a discount if you commit to a year or more of service. That said, price ranges depend on a number of factors, including how much data can be stored, how fast data can be restored, and customer service response times.
How Safe Is Cloud Backup?
The short answer is as safe as your backup onsite. The chief benefit of backing up your data offsite, away from the office, is that it’s safer from physical theft, fire, and other local (and physical) disasters.
But cloud-based backup is still prone to virtual risks, such as cybercriminals—both inside and external to your organization—that could make your data vulnerable.
You can be reassured that leading cloud backup providers are likely to be secure as they utilize extremely robust cybersecurity measures—such as encryption, multifactor authentication, and immutability—to protect data against breaches. And by storing your data in an offsite cloud, you can protect your data against threats like ransomware.
Additionally, leading cloud backup vendors provide 24/7 monitoring, management, and reporting to ensure your data remains safe.
Should I Use Cloud Backup?
Cloud backup is increasingly seen as an optimal way to keep your data safe from loss. It’s also cost effective, as you don’t have to invest capital in storage infrastructure and pay skilled personnel to manage that infrastructure.
What Are the Disadvantages of Cloud or Data Backup?
There are a handful of potential disadvantages to moving your data backup to the cloud. Here are the top three. They can be easily mitigated however by choosing the right cloud backup provider.
- Speed – Depending on the cloud backup service you subscribe to, this can be a problem, as copying data to the cloud—especially if you are continuously backing up large volumes of data—can slow down the network. With some providers, you must carefully plan your backups so that they don’t interfere with business operations.
- Big data costs – Although free or very inexpensive cloud backup services exist for businesses with only limited volumes of data, organizations that need to store extensive amounts of information can find costs creeping up if they are paying on a per-gigabyte basis. Precisely because the cloud is virtually of unlimited scalability, you need to be aware of how much data you are backing up. Otherwise, you may get hit with an unexpectedly large bill.
- Lack of control – Some businesses hesitate to go to cloud backup because they feel like they are losing control of their data by allowing a third party to store it and retrieve it for them. Although leading cloud back-up vendors provide robust security and privacy that can be trusted, this worry is valid precisely because when trusting a third party with your business’ most important asset, it pays to be cautious. That’s why you have to perform due diligence when choosing a cloud backup provider.
How Cohesity Does Cloud Backup
Cohesity simplifies data management, including cloud backups. Cohesity cloud backup, or BaaS, eliminates the time-consuming manual tasks of copying data onto tape or other physical medium at the end of each day and transporting it to a remote site.
Cohesity automates cloud backup, providing many capabilities and benefits to IT teams and their organizations.
- Predictable costs – Cohesity cloud backup empowers organizations to eliminate inconsistent CapEx and upgrade costs as well as lengthy planning cycles by shifting to OpEx with predictable subscription-based pricing. Teams also enjoy rolling feature updates, unlimited data restores, and no data egress charges with a single inclusive price
- Simplified operations – There are no gateways and no silos—just unified hybrid cloud backup with Cohesity. Your organization can sign up, connect, and protect your data in minutes with a single unified GUI and consistent experience for hybrid cloud thorough Cohesity. Plus IT minimizes data transfers while protecting data in flight and at rest with the encryption and flexible key management Cohesity provides.
- Ability to protect more and do more with data – With cloud backup from Cohesity, your team can not only automatically discover and protect on-prem and cloud workloads but allow others to do more with data, too. Cohesity is a single backup service that protects your on-prem VMware, files/objects (NAS), and cloud data such as Microsoft 365. And when you need to restore data, you can quickly search and find the data you need and quickly recover it to the original source or to a new location with Cohesity—even defend your data from a ransomware attack. IT Ops recommends cloud backup from Cohesity because it frees them from managing infrastructure and enables others such as developers and data analysts to do more with data.
Cohesity offers cloud backup and BaaS in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS).