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Data backup gives your business a lifeline when, for whatever reason, you lose access to essential data. When implementing or reviewing data protection practices, your business faces choices about where your data resides. In this article, we walk you through the cloud backup vs local backup debate to help you decide which option best suits your needs.

Cloud Backup vs Local Backup – Where Can You Store Your Data?

You have three main options to choose from, which are as follows:

  1. Local  Also known as on-premise backup, local backup methods save a copy of your data to a server, tape, disk or USB drive located on-site. Local backup provides fast recovery since the data resides physically close to your users, so long as your users are office-based.
  2. Private Cloud  Your business gets dedicated cloud infrastructure for backing up data remotely. This infrastructure isn’t shared with other companies, which is crucial if you have particular compliance or data privacy considerations to bear in mind.
  3. Public Cloud  Public Cloud providers operate on an enormous scale. With an unrivalled network of data centres, this backup option is suitable for the largest large organisations that require global access to their data. Companies known for their Public Cloud operations include Netflix, Pinterest and PayPal. In a Public Cloud environment, you share the same storage infrastructure as other customers.

The Key Considerations for Data Backup Location

It helps to start by asking where your data resides today.

Are you fully cloud-based?

Most companies are on a cloud journey and are gradually moving their services, data and applications to the cloud. Generally, only startups and progressive organisations that have championed a cloud-native approach operate entirely on the cloud.

In this situation, as our backup expert Gavin Albury says, “if you run all of your services in the cloud, local backups make almost no sense because you don’t have anything locally. Backing up locally means that you’re taking it out of the cloud.” 

Hybrid IT environments: should data stay local?

Almost all modern businesses (92% to be precise) run some of their operations using the cloud. The majority of those will be running a hybrid IT environment using a mix of on-premise and cloud infrastructure.

In this scenario, some data may reside in cloud services, such as file-sharing platforms or cloud-based office suites, while some data is stored locally on endpoints or on-premise servers.

However, storing your backup data in the location where it gets viewed and edited does not give you the protection you need. As Gavin succinctly puts it, “the simple reason to put something in the cloud is so that it’s not only in your office!”

A power surge or natural disaster would leave you unable to access your backup data, even if your staff can work from home. Instead, your backup data needs to reside in more than one location.

Do you need worldwide data access?

Public cloud providers like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud are global operators by design. The scale of their infrastructure is unrivalled, which is brilliant if you need worldwide, multinational access to your data. However, we must stress that most businesses do not operate at a scale that requires this.

Hidden public cloud costs: data ingress and egress

You typically pay for Public Cloud backup services on a pay-per-use structure, so the actual storage costs are low. However, an overlooked yet important consideration for Public Cloud backup is the cost of moving data into and out of these services.

On paper, the low cost per gigabyte of storage offered by providers like AWS and Azure is appealing. Unfortunately, this misses a crucial detail.

“At some point, you need to recover or move data, which is when it starts to cost you. Data ingress and egress can catch you out.” 

Before committing to the public cloud as a backup option, make sure your business understands all costs, some of which may not be immediately obvious. Otherwise, you might find that you rapidly burn through your budget.

Rethinking Cloud Backup vs Local Backup

The key takeaway here is not to make a binary choice between cloud or local backup. Instead, a hybrid strategy that combines both locations so you can cover as many eventualities as possible. No single backup solution is absolute.

The 3-2-1 approach to backup is recommended by statutory bodies, backup software providers and managed service providers (like us!). In practice, this means:

  • Keep three copies of all your data (one primary and two backups)
  • Use two different storage media types (e.g. disk and tape)
  • Have at least one copy of your data off-site.

Keen to learn more about backup and how Ekco can solve your data protection challenges? Get in touch with our expert team today.

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