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As Chief Evangelist of a cloud backup company, I get lots of opportunities to ask small business owners about the technologies they use to protect their data from malware attacks, accidental deletions, and natural disasters.
And oftentimes I hear statements like these:
“I use Google Drive to back up my files” or “I back up with Dropbox.”
When I hear people talking about using these solutions for backup, I’m not surprised—but I’m always concerned. That’s because Google Drive, Dropbox—and similar services like Box, Apple iCloud, and Microsoft OneDrive—are cloud storage solutions, not cloud backup solutions.
And business owners that don’t know the difference between the two could be putting valuable data at risk.
From inventories and purchase histories to customer information and accounting, data has become such an essential part of business that most companies couldn’t survive without it. That’s why it’s necessary to make sure that critical business data is never lost.
Many small businesses turn to cloud storage solutions for data protection because they’re easy to access and often free. But using cloud storage as a backup and disaster recovery solution can be a costly mistake for one simple reason:
Backup and storage are two very different things.
Cloud storage is an excellent choice for some needs. For example, if you need to store a handful of files in a centralized location for easy access, share files with friends and co-workers, or synchronize files across different devices such as a laptops and tablets, cloud storage solutions are a good fit. They were designed to do all those things.
But if you have a large number of files that change frequently—or if you need to protect an entire server, a database, and important business applications—a true backup solution is what you need. It’s important to choose cloud backup over cloud storage if your business requires any of the following protection features:
Cloud backup solutions offer version control, which essentially lets users “turn back the clock” if needed and recover earlier versions of files. This is particularly important if your business is attacked with ransomware or some other type of malicious computer virus that corrupts your files and renders them unusable.
Cloud backup systems maintain earlier versions of files. So when systems are attacked with ransomware, cloud backup users simply need to delete all infected files and remove the computer virus. They can then log into the cloud backup system and download clean versions of their files from a time before the attack occurred.
Cloud storage services can leave data vulnerable to the most common form of data loss: human error.
That’s because cloud storage services often require manual uploads, where users select the files they are going to share. On the other hand, cloud backup automatically makes copies of entire systems.
In short, cloud backup users don’t have to remember to back up their files. It just happens.
Cloud backup continuously monitors applications for changes and saves them securely in a separate physical location from the original copy. This frees users from having to worry about manually backing up their files every time they make a modification. Instead, users can spend more time focusing on what matters most—their business.
Companies with complex security requirements will find more options with a backup and recovery solutions provider. This includes things like optional 256-bit private key encryption, 128-bit encryption by default, and support for Transport Layer Security (TLS).
Every business should have a clear policy about the types of data they want to back up—and how often. And the backup solution you use must be able to support that policy.
With the right cloud backup solution, you should have the option to set policies around types of backup, and retention and deletion rules. This greatly reduces the chances of human error compared to ad hoc or manual backup processes.
Businesses that are subject to regulatory compliance mandates like HIPAA, FERPA, and GLBA must have a plan to recover data in the event of a local or regional disaster. In some cases, they have to satisfy requirements for administrative, physical, and technical safeguards, and can only use vendors that can satisfy strict requirements for data handling. Most cloud storage services do not satisfy these requirements.
When disaster strikes, you need to recover your files and get back in business as quickly as possible. With cloud backup systems, you can easily drag ‘n drop a single file—or restore an entire system at the click of a button.
Cloud storage solutions can be very useful. But too often, businesses learn the hard way that cloud storage doesn’t offer the same level of protection as cloud backup. Be sure to keep that in mind when planning your business’s data protection strategy!