Tag Archives: cloud backup vendor

How to Select a Cloud Backup and Recovery Vendor – Part 3

(This article is the third in a three-part series exploring how to evaluate and select a cloud backup and recover service. Previous articles explored how to evaluate your data needs and how different data types are treated by backup services. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.)

Selecting a cloud backup vendorBackups, whether they’re local or to the cloud (or “hybrid,” doing both at the same time), can be done in a variety of ways. Just like if you’re planning to buy a car that can accelerate quickly–like driving on New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway, whose entrance ramps are often very abbreviated)–you need to know whether a cloud service’s operation matches your needs. Some services do schedule backups, e.g. daily at 2 a.m. This means if your hard drive crashes at 4 p.m., you’ve lost everything you’ve been working on all day.

Other services apply a more frequent schedule, perhaps every six or three hours–again, possibly not good enough for your needs. Other services do backups continuously, meaning they check your files for changes. Even here, there are various ways this may be done. Some services do backups only when you exit an application, e.g., close down Microsoft Word. Some backup services back up a file when you save and close the file, which still may not be good enough if it’s a spreadsheet or other file you typically keep open all day long. (Or you have to change the way you work.) Other backup services save changes to a file every few minutes, or however frequently you specify, or even every time the application does “writes” to the computer’s disk.

Incremental and versioning

Obviously, continuous or very frequent backups offer the most protection for your data.

But you also need to know two important aspects of what the cloud backup is doing.

One, does the backup have to upload the entire file each time? For big files, like an Outlook .PST file, this can take a long time, and consume a lot of bandwidth. Or does the backup do an “incremental” backup — upload only the changes, applying them to the cloud backup?

And you also need to know, and be able to set, backup “versioning.” What if you want to get back a file the way it was the day before, for example? Does the service offer “versioning”? If so, how many “versions” will it maintain?

Backup considerations

Other important things to determine about a cloud backup provider (by reading their website, and, if need be, asking a sales person) include:

  • If you delete a file from your hard drive, does the backup service delete its copy? Or does it preserve these files, and if so, for how long?
  • Recovering files: can you do it through any web browser on any computer (assuming you haven’t lost your password)? How long does it take to recover a few files, or a few directories?
  • Recovering large amounts of data: How long to recover a gigabyte, or many gigabytes — how long does it take the cloud service to get the recovered data available, and how long will the download take? And for very large recoveries — many gigabytes or tens-to-hundreds of gigabytes — can you request them sent to you on a DVD or hard drive? And if so, how much extra does this cost, and how quickly can it be done?
  • How much does the cloud backup service cost, and how are charges determined? Are charges based on the amount of data “being protected” — what’s on your hard drive(s) — or the size of the stored backup? Can you backup several computers to a single account, and if so, are there per-computer charges? Are you charged for retrievals? Customer service calls?
  • What operating system(s) and version(s) does the cloud backup service support? For example, if you’ve got a Mac, and they only support Windows, that doesn’t do you any good.
  • How long does it take for the first backup — which, if you have a lot of data, can take a long time? Can you “prime the pump” by sending in a copy of your data on DVD or hard drive (make sure secured with encryption and a password!)? And if so, what does that cost?

Once you know what a cloud backup service is doing, you can see if it’s a match for all, or some, of your data backup needs. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know when you look at cloud services which ones may be a match, and which ones clearly aren’t.

Then you look at which of these is the best match based on the way you work and your back up needs.

 

 

How to Select a Cloud Backup and Recovery Vendor – Part 2

(This article is the second in a three-part series exploring how to evaluate and select a cloud backup and recover service. The previous article explored how to evaluate your data needs and the future article will cover the different backup methods. Read Part 1 here, and Part 3 here.)

Selecting a Cloud Backup VendorIn terms of backup requirements, not all of your data is the same.

One way of looking at your data is by importance: What data can’t you live without? What would be unable to reconstruct or rebuild? For example, you can re-rip new copies of your audio CDs or re-scan your old photographs, if you still have them, but you won’t be able to rewrite your project report or your novel manuscript from memory; you won’t be able to re-take pictures of your dog from five years ago.

Another question: what data do you need back as soon as possible, and how soon is “as soon as possible”? This is what backup experts typically refer to as “Recovery Point Objective” (RPO) and “Recovery Time Objective” (RTO).

For example, I’m a freelance writer; the files for my active projects, plus some key calendar, to-do list and other files, typically total to maybe a quarter of a gigabyte. My “archives” — files for projects I’m dealing with — and other less-critical files represent maybe a gigabyte or so.

Not prepared to lose

But I’ve also got 50+ gigabytes of photos, 25+ gigabytes of video, some audio, dozens of scanned images, and gigabytes of assorted sundry stuff.

And when I get to digitizing my older photos and negatives, record albums, and CDs, I’m sure I’ll have a terabyte or so of additional multimedia files.

None of which I am prepared to lose — so it all must be backed up.

For you, essential data you need available may include three large databases, many spreadsheets, several presentations, the past three months’ worth of email, and client billing and payment data for the past six months. If you’re a professional photographer or designer, you may need a ready archive of tens, even hundreds of gigabytes of photos and images.

And you may have lots of personal multimedia — photos, video, scans, etc. — that you don’t want to lose.

RPOs and RTOs

So I’ve really got several sets of RPO/RTOs and yours might look similar to mine:

  • For the RPO consisting of “Projects that I am actively working on, plus roughly half a dozen files of to-do, calendaring, etc.” my RTO would be “two to three hours at most.” Ideally, for the half-dozen or so files relating to projects I’m working on immediately, I’d prefer an RTO of “one hour or less.”
  • For the RPO that also includes other current projects, along with marketing and pitching, I could probably live with an RTO of 1-2 days.
  • For all my other files, I’m sure I could wait a week, even weeks to months — as long as I knew for sure that I’d get them all back.

All this, of course, is just for data. I’d also want a working computer with my core productivity applications on it. (Having recently bought a new, small notebook computer, I’ve got that covered — although there’s more I could be doing in that area… but that’s straying from “data backup.”)

Create and change

The next question: How often do I create or change files — and how much do I care about saving these changes.

For example, my multimedia files are pretty “static” — once I’ve created, organized and named or tagged them, I don’t expect to edit or change them, as a rule.

But the files for whatever I’m working on are created or changed throughout the day. If I lose a file that I have been working on all day (and my most recent backup was at midnight) I’ve lost hours of effort.

So you not only have to know how much data you have, but also how much of it changes frequently, and which and how much data you need near-continuous access to versus what you can wait a few days or even weeks to regain access to.

Now you’re ready to look at cloud backup services, and see which of these match your requirements.