No system is adequately protected if data exists in a single physical location. An offsite backup provides essential protection from fires, floods and other natural disasters, as well as from thieves, angry ex-employees and malicious software attacks. If your business engages in regular IT audits, offsite backups also have tangible compliance benefits.
In short, offsite backup is extremely advantageous, and when creating a disaster recovery strategy for mission-critical files, you should certainly look into offsite options. Here's what you need to know to avoid data loss.
Online Backup Services: A Fast, Affordable Option
The easiest way to keep an offsite backup is to use an online backup service. Online services store your data on secure servers with multiple levels of failure tolerance, and most services use state-of-the-art encryption to keep your files safe from unauthorized access.
Regardless of where your business is located, you can find an online backup service that is located in an entirely different part of the country, and this provides additional protection from large-scale natural disasters. If a hurricane knocks out power on the Eastern seaboard of the United States, for instance, you might be able to get your company's website up and running by restoring from a server located on the West Coast.
For personal computer users, cloud services are absolutely ideal. Many services cost less than $20 a month for PCs and provide exceptional access speeds, perfect encryption and great reliability. Businesses with serious data backup needs might be hesitant to seriously consider a move to the cloud, but when coupled with an onsite backup, a cloud service provides enormous benefits at a reasonable price.
Be sure to check out a few different cloud options before making a choice; prices vary greatly, and some businesses can save money by setting up their own off-site file repository.
Using Physical Media to Keep Files Offsite
Some organizations dislike the idea of trusting data to a third-party company. You might also have compliance requirements that restrict digital transfers severely, which would make a cloud service an infeasible long-term option. You can certainly store an offsite copy of your data on physical media, provided that you take a few precautions when implementing your backup plan.
Choose storage media that will last. Data tapes are a popular option for backups, as they offer a 30-year storage life on average, but make sure to store your digital media in an appropriately controlled environment. Resist the urge to rent out a storage space for your company's data tape cartridges or backup hard drives; storage spaces rarely have ideal controls for temperature, humidity and media contamination.
You might also decide to back up your files to a remote server or computer. This is an acceptable alternative to a third-party backup service, but you should take care to check your backups occasionally. Make sure that your data is usable and up to date. If you perform incremental backups, open a few files occasionally and schedule regular tests as a part of your disaster recovery plan.
Logical issues like data corruption and missing file entries can easily affect your backup copy, and these regular checks are an important part of your long-term backup strategy.
For the best possible results, you should keep at least three copies of your files, including an incremental copy and an offsite copy. Many businesses set up local storage servers that automatically upload to the cloud in a sort of best-of-both-worlds arrangement. Whatever options you choose, keeping an offsite copy of your files will keep your data safe from localized disasters, and you should always think about fires, floods and other worst-case scenarios to ensure adequate protection.