It goes without saying that if you’re a company in this day and age, you’re going to have server infrastructure, or at least server services. You’re going to have corporate data which is located on these servers and unless you use Office 365, you will have corporate emails stored here as well.

One critical solution that really every single company must have, is backups. Ensuring that your data is backed up so you can restore it if there’s a disaster, or if someone deletes files which perhaps they shouldn’t have. When you’re allowing many staff members to access data, there’s bound to be issues where someone deletes something that they shouldn’t have. That’s where backups come into the equation. You will be hard-pressed to find any company operating out there today which would not have backups for their corporate data. But do they have offsite backups?

offsite-backup-storage

It’s all well and good taking backups of your servers and storing them on the same server, or on a separate backup server in the same physical location as your other servers. Sure, it will be nice and fast to transfer all that data from one server to the other, leveraging Gigabit Ethernet. But what happens if you have a major disaster and everything within your office is no longer available. Think of flooding, major fires or theft. There’s many situations where the physical presence of your servers can be compromised. This could mean that your server that contains all your corporate data suddenly gets flooded and the data is lost. Time to fall back to your backups. Well your backup server is in the same location and chances are, it’s been affected the same way as your primary server. There goes your backups too! So what happens then? Well this is when Offsite backups come into play.

Offsite Backups

Offsite backups really is the same principal as your regular backups, but the copy is stored offsite. In a separate office, in a datacentre, or in the cloud. The idea is that the backups are taken offsite, so you don’t have access to them from the network that you’re on (to avoid corruption or encryption (malware)), and also so they won’t be affected by natural disasters or anything that will physically affect your primary servers.

Achieving Offsite Backups or Offsite Replication can be done in many ways. Some applications allow you to upload your data to another server which is located in a datacentre. You could own that server and setup the connection yourself, or you could subscribe to a cloud service where you pay a monthly subscription based on the amount of data you’re using.

Some examples of applications which will allow you to do this are the following:

  • Shadow Protect (and Image Manager)
  • Veeam
  • Backup Exec

This solution leverages an internet connection and really once you’ve configured everything, there’s not much work required on an ongoing basis. Once the backups have been configured to replicate, provided that you have a stable internet connection on both sides, it will continue to replicate until you run out of storage, or until you meet the set retention period.

If you were to have a cyber-attack, perhaps a staff member opens up Cryptolocker and infects the network. You want to make sure that your backup copy is off the network so it can’t be affected. Leveraging Offsite Replication will ensure that your data is available should you need it, but it’s also off the network so you’re not going to be affected by attacks such as this.

Another great benefit of using an offsite replication solution, especially if you’re using snapshot technology (such as Veeam), is that you can spin up the replicated virtual machine in the secondary location. If you were to have a disaster and your main office is no longer online, there’s a very quick turn-around to get the servers spun up at the DR site.

Tape Backups

A much older solution, but still one that is widely used is replication to tape. This is where your backups operating normally, but there’s a copy that is sent to a tape. Yep, just like an old VHS! Except these are a lot smaller, and hold a lot more data. This might look like a rather archaic solution, but some companies still use this method for offsite storage. The benefits of using this solution is that the backups are no longer stored on a spinning disk. There’s no way that the data can be compromised, as it’s stored offline. You don’t really have to worry about disk space, as you’re not storing any of the data on a server.

There are a few caveats with this solution however.

Slow – It’s slow.  Backing up to tape takes a long time. You don’t have gigabit transfer speeds which you would have if you’re backing up to disk over Ethernet.

Temporary Storage – If you’re wanting to restore data from a tape, you need to have the free space to cache the data that you’re wanting to reload. If space is an issue and that’s why you’ve moved to Tape backups, then you’re going to have issues accessing this data again if you need to restore it.

Slow Restores – The process of restoring a backup from tape is much longer than restoring from a disk. You will have to physically collect the tape, insert it into the tape drive, run a scan on the tape to find out what’s actually stored on there, and then start the restore process.

Comparison

When comparing the two solutions of storing backups offsite, it’s really a no-brainer. Offsite replication using online technologies really comes in as the winner. There’s not a lot of benefits of having backups stored on tape with storage being so cheap nowadays. Unless you’re very paranoid and worried about having your data stored online (and 100% want a copy kept offline) then the Offsite replication option is the way to go.

Storage costs definitely come into the equation when comparing the two options, but disk storage costs continues to decrease. When you can have TBs of data stored on servers or NASs, it really makes it hard to use any other technology. There’s always going to be that tiny chance that something could happen to your offsite backup location. Because it is accessible online (whilst it’s all encrypted and very difficult to break into), there’s always a chance (albeit a minute chance) that it will be compromised as well. One must take this into considering when looking into their options and deciding on a backup solution.

Implementation

Avantgarde Technologies is an IT Consulting firm located in Perth, Western Australia. We specialise in all things Microsoft and can assist in designing and implementing Disaster Recovery solutions. If you require any assistance with planning your DR solution, or if you just want to have offsite replication setup, Avantgarde Technologies can definitely assist.

SamuelHosting & Data Centeroffsite backup storage,offsite backups
It goes without saying that if you’re a company in this day and age, you’re going to have server infrastructure, or at least server services. You’re going to have corporate data which is located on these servers and unless you use Office 365, you will have corporate emails stored...