I recently stumbled across an article describing data loss horror stories from 2011. The most disastrous occurrence described a server being struck by lightning, subsequently set on fire, and incurring water damage from the fire department’s attempt to extinguish the fire. Amazingly, the provider was able to recover all of the data from the charred servers because the company had their data backed up through a cloud service as part of their disaster recovery. Unfortunately, not everyone has a back up recovery plan or is subscribed to a cloud provider who can restore data after such a detrimental disaster. Choosing the right provider who offers the right services is a matter of patience, rationale, meticulousness, and a little bit of common sense.
In today’s world where the term “cloud” is just as directly associated with technology as it is with the weather and differentiating the best providers who offer the best backup solutions can seem like a daunting task to undertake. Here are a few tips to consider when you’re looking to backup in the cloud.
Contemporary cloud security is multi-layered, multi-faceted, and just about multi-everything. From rotating passwords, to impregnable firewalls, to heavy encryptions, it seems like cloud security is nothing short of perfect. This is a common misconception and sometimes the flaws lay directly in front of us. Basic or free cloud services usually require only an email and password to create an account. On an eerily frequent basis, people will actually use the password they designate for their email accounts as the password for their cloud service too. This compromises both accounts and if a hacker was to gain the password of one, he’d have the password for both. This is where it pays to consider account names and passwords, and not to hastily use ones you’re already familiar with because you don’t feel like keeping track of one or two more.
Encryptions are extremely important. A heavily encrypted file is important for safeguarding information. But keep in mind that heavily encrypted files are as equally difficult to restore as they are to secure.
More often than not, providers will offer the opportunity for a free trial period. Try it. Hands-on experience is the best way to garner knowledge on which cloud provider works best for you and your applicable data. Even better is that most providers offer a limited amount of space (1-2GB) for free. Before being acquired in 2009, backup and storage provider Oosah.com offered 1TB of free storage. Take advantage of what the providers are offering, it’s free after all.
Compatibility, Incremental Backups
It cannot be stressed how integral it is to make sure the provider you choose is compatible with your OS. Uploading data compatible only with a Mac can be tricky when your Mac crashes and you only have access to a PC; comparable instances can occur with mobile devices too. Most providers will be compatible with multiple OS’s but be wary of the ones that aren’t.
Similarly, some providers won’t allow for specific files to be uploaded. Oosah.com offered an unprecedented amount of free space to help lure customers. As a drawback, they did not allow for text documents, spreadsheets, and presentation files to be uploaded, though they did convert RAW image files into JPGs. Be sure to read the fine print and know the limits of what you can and cannot upload to the cloud.
It is also more than worth considering if providers also offer incremental backups. Incremental backup, also called file synchronization or diffing, is a utility that compares the difference between an old file and its updated version, and saves that change. Basically, it backs up the revisions you make to a file. This is a time-saver and a space-saver when compared to providers whose only means of backing up are saving the same files repeatedly on a systematic basis. Incremental backups also save bandwidth, allowing for a smooth transition into the cloud without congesting your internet connection.
Backing up and disaster recovery in the cloud is one of the cheapest, safest, and most convenient mediums for file storing and data recovery. While some people see physical backups (discs, external HDs, etc.) as the best way of reproducing safe copies of certain files, this is merely because they can be physically seen and touched, giving the user a false sense of security. But the statistics don’t lie. Nearly 50% of SMBs use external hard drives, of which 20% have failed on them. 42% of SMBs use flash drives, although of those who use them only 6% think flash drives are reliable. The best providers can sometimes be the hardest to distinguish in terms of pros and cons, so a great way to choose which provider offers the most in return for the least, is to look at their basics: price, size, speed, file types and platform compatibility.