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Author: Faith Cheruiyot
Thursday, January 6, 2022

What are the backup best practices using the cloud?


Category: Cloud

Have you ever imagined what you would do if you lost all your crucial data? Of course, you cant imagine. Well, there is only one way to be sure of data safety and longevity- data backup. And the best thing is; cloud backup is here to make it easy to backup your files. This article will tell you how you can achieve the best backup strategy.

There are several backup best practices using the cloud, such as using offsite storage, following the 3-2-2 rules like using remote storage, backing up your data on a regular basis, encrypting the backup, thinking about the endpoint, and taking BOYD into consideration.

Apart from learning about the best cloud backup practices, you will understand all the best online backup strategies, terms used in backup operations, pros and cons, cloud backup features, and much more. So, read on and get my take at the tail end of this piece. 

What are the backup best practices using the cloud?

The data backup concept is quite simple. However, many users find it hard to implement for obvious reasons such as lack of information, time, or resources.
What are the backup best practices using the cloud?
If you are considering backing up your files or data, then you need to consider the following best practices:
  • Encrypt your backups

Encrypting your data is the top best cloud backup best practice. It adds extra security layers, which give you peace of mind knowing you will get the exact data when you decide to recover your data. 

If your data is not backed up, it is prone to theft, unauthorized access, misplaces, or compromised in a way. 

  • Keep backups for a long time.

Depending on your requirements, it is a good practice to determine how long you will retain your cloud backup before discarding it. 

However, You should back up not all data indefinitely. Some backups can be stored for months or years, depending on your requirements. 

A reputable backup solution should give you terms to adjust your cloud data backup retention. This allows you to keep many copies of your recent data and file and at the same time keep compressed versions of your previous data backups. 

Below is a table showing a data retention arrangement that you can adopt:

Backup Term

Data Retention Period

Monthly backup

Retained until local backups are deleted

Weekly backup

30 days

Daily backups

14 days

Intra-daily backups

7 days

Local backups 

90 days

Note: It is a general rule to retain cloud backup data for a reasonable time. Some companies are giving their users unlimited data backup options. This means you can keep your data for as long as you want- no limit. 

  • Test backups regularly

It's standard practice to ensure your cloud backup will function when you need it. However, a backup existence doesn't mean that it can be recovered- ensure it's working all times. 

Test your cloud data backup regularly to guarantee you can recover them. Most cloud backup systems have automated processes that will alert you when there is a problem with your data backup. 

  • Consider Date Categories and Systems

Cloud data backup is a very cheap process. However, knowing that doesn't mean that you should waste storage space. Ensure your backup strategy entails different approaches for different data and systems. Here are some of the questions that you should ask yourself:

  1. Which data do I need to archive? If you don't intend to use your data frequently, you may consider putting it in archive storage, relatively cheaper. 
  2. Which systems do I need to keep them running? Each system has its downtime tolerance. Set your priority to the systems that will keep running during restore, not just any data that will restore first. 
  3. What is my most critical data? You may consider storing your most essential data on a second cloud site. 
  • Know your Data Recovery Objectives

Well-outlined recovery objectives bring about a good data recovery strategy. The two concepts are the cornerstone for your cloud data backup journey. Also, they help you make decisive actions to reduce downtime in case of a failure situation. 

Determine the following before you do anything:

  • Recovery Point Objectives- Here, you figure out how much data you can afford to lose. One day? On hour? 30 minutes? Once you determine this objective, you will be able to set the backup intervals, which will minimize the data you might lose between your last backup and the failure event. 
  • Recovery Time Objectives- How fast can you do a recovery process before downtime becomes an imaginable situation. 

What are the backup best practices using the cloud?

What are the cloud backup features?

  1. Runs your data backups manually or the set schedule. 
  2. Restores your data from a particular date and time
  3. cloud backup uses AES-256 encryption. The private key is only known to you.
  4. Has unlimited backups
  5. Able to select your specific data from the cloud server for backup. 
  6. Able to view current and previous backup activities
  7. The incremental backup feature allows the system to save a portion of the changed data.

Before doing anything else, it is good to understand some terms used in the backup language to help you make informed decisions on backup operations. The table below shows definitions of cloud backup concepts:


Backup concepts

Definition

Backup

A copy of data or files used for restoring that data if it's corrupted or lost. 

Vault

Disk space with information about each data block currently stored. It is shared with all backup server configurations. 

Restore

Using backup a checkpoint to bring back your systems to their previous state

Backup configuration

Guidelines instruct a backup agent on what to back up, how often, and retention terms. 

Bundle

Several blocks stored together. 

Block

A group of data from a file

Snapshot

A system data checkpoint, primarily a backup

Cloud Backup agent

It is a program on your server that helps you perform a backup or restoration.

Encryption

A method of protecting data or files contents using a key or password. Users with the password or key can access and read the data. 

Data churn

The frequency in which data changes

Cloud files

Where bundles or other files are stored, they are used to restore your data. 


What is a cloud backup strategy?

Cloud backup strategy is also known as remote backup or online backup. It is a strategy used to send a copy of files or database to a secondary location, specifically off-site, to store them safely to be used in case the system fails. 

What are the backup best practices using the cloud?

The secondary servers are hosted by a third party who charges clients based on:

  • Storage space
  • Data transmission bandwidth
  • Number of users
  • Storage capacity used
  • Number of times you access your data
  • Number of servers

A good cloud data backup helps bolster your data protection without adding too much work on your shoulders. 

Many cloud backup providers charge their customers yearly or monthly. It is relatively cheaper to pay annually than monthly. 

How does cloud backup strategy work?

Cloud backup serves as an off-site option for many users. Below are the steps for a cloud backup strategy:

  1. Designate files for backup. It can be new or updated data
  2. Encrypt backed up files and send them off-site to the cloud
  3. You can choose from private, cloud-to-cloud (C2C), or public backup methods
  4. Access files or data quickly and readily available when needed or during the recovery event. 

There are different ways you can do a perfect cloud backup strategy that will fit your backup plans. Below are types of cloud backup you might want to adopt:

Online Cloud Backup Systems

You may opt for hardware alternatives that link data backup to a cloud backup solution. These facilities include disk capacity along with a backup server and backup software. 

These appliances provide seamless links to the cloud provides and backup services. Some of the vendors that give such facilities include but are not limited to Rubrik, Quantum, StorageCraft, Asigra,  Dell EMC, Unitrends, and Cohesity. 

These vendors are the best in terms of the most recent backup retention. In addition, you can make any recovery from the local backup copy, which saves transmission costs and time. 

Back up directly to the public cloud

Another way to store your data is by copying resources to a public cloud. This means writing your data directly to providers like Microsoft Azure or AWS. Here, you use your own data backup software to create a copy to send to a cloud storage solution. 

The cloud storage then provides a destination and keeps the data safe. It doesn't specifically offer a backup application. It is important to note that you may need additional data protection options with public cloud backup services. 

Back up to a service provider

Here, you write your data to a data cloud service vendor who offers backup solutions in a data center. 

The service provider may have commercially-available applications for your backup needs, or it can provide you with backup software that you will use to send data. 

What are the types of cloud backup methods?

With the increased use of technology, backup is no longer an unknown term. However, the backup concept existed way before we gave it the same name. 

When people stored essential files in a different place separate from the original one, that was backing up taking place. This would serve as a backup if one lost the original document or somehow corrupted it. 

What are the backup best practices using the cloud?

The technology companies took over the concept, they didn't change it, but they provided new resources to make backing up more accessible and faster. 

There are three types of cloud backup methods: full, differential, and incremental. 

Let me now dive into each of the above types in detail.

  • Full cloud backup: This type of cloud backup means that you copy everything essential and cannot afford to lose. This is the first copy, and it is the most reliable one because you can make it without any additional tools.
  • Differential Cloud Backup: A differential backup and incremental backup (I will dive into it next) have the same basic structure. Differential involves backing up new files or those that underwent some changes. You will re-copy all files created from the original backup always. I recommend that you should not carry out differential backup manually. 
  • Incremental cloud backup: This backup model require more care than the rest as it involves making copy files taking into account the changes they might have undergone since they were last backed up. For instance, you do a full backup, and once you are done, you go ahead with incremental backup. Here you create two new files. The system will detect all the original full backups and remain the same, and it will only back up the newly created files. Incremental backup saves time and space. In addition, there are fewer backup files to be stored compared to the full backup model. However, like in differential backup, don't carry out incremental backup manually; that is my recommendation. 

As I stated earlier, backing up stated earlier in the days. It is essential to know when to store your backups. There are different ways to store backups, including traditional methods and newer advanced ones. The types of storage media have changed over the years, seeing when they were invented later. 

There are numerous backup storage media such as DVDs, CDs, Blu-Rays, punch cards, floppy disks, external hard disks, and cloud storage services. 

Before you decide where to save your backups, it's good to figure out how long you want the backup to be stored in the medium. Each medium has its life span, as shown in the table below:


Medium

Capacity

Date of Invention

Lifespan

HD

From few GB to TB

1956

5 - 10 years

SSD

Few GBs to TB

1970 - 1990

10 years plus

USD flash drive

A few MB to GB

2000

10 years plus

CD or CD ROM

80 minutes or 700 MB

1979

25 - 50 years

MD (MiniDisc)

60 minutes or 340 MB

1991

25 - 50 years

Floppy disk

KB to a few MB

1971

3 - 5 years

SD card

A few MB to GB

1994

10 years plus

DVD

A few MB to GB

1994 - 1995

25 - 50 years

What tasks do online backup services perform?

Online backup services usually include a Web-based admin console that allows you to access the data and monitor the health of your backups. The backed-up files are encrypted and stored in the provider's data centers.

What are the backup best practices using the cloud?

Before choosing an online backup service, its good to consider the pros and cons of the service:

Advantages of online backup services

  1. The cloud is scalable. This means that if your data grows, your cloud backup will still accommodate your backup needs. However, it would be best to be wary of the increasing cost as the data grows. Therefore, it is good to delete or archive data you no longer need. 
  2. It is simple to manage cloud backup because online backup service providers do much of the work compared to other backup models.
  3. Cloud data backups are not prone to a high risk of backup failures. However, you can lose data due to physical damages, accidental overwrites, or improper storage with other forms. 
  4. Online backup services are available anywhere and across devices.
  5. Online backup services are secure from malicious ransomware attacks. Cloud data backup is done outside your network, and it is encrypted before it is transmitted from your site/source to the cloud.  
  6. It is cheaper to backup your data online than other backup models for large data volumes. In addition, some providers offer free cloud backup options for a specific memory volume or time. 

Disadvantages of online backup services

  1. Backup cost increases as you increase the amount of data in their storage.
  2. The cloud backup speeds depend on latency and bandwidth. This means if you have many users connected to your internet network, your backup process might be slower. It can be a bigger issue when conducting a data recovery operation.
  3. Your data is moved from your locality or device to an outsider provider. Therefore, it is good to understand your provider's physical security procedures, fiscal viability, and equipment used.

What are the best cloud backup service providers?

Choosing the best cloud backup vendors can be a challenging task. Before you settle on one, review their SLAs, long-term costs, security, and pricing plans. The table below shows some of the best cloud backup service providers:


Cloud Backup Providers

Description

Microsoft Azure Backup

Sends backups to the Azure cloud automatically. In addition, its recovery automates replication to conduct backup for private Windows infrastructure. 

Acronis

Offers Cyber Backup Cloud, a hybrid cloud backup, as a service product. Acronis Cyber Backup Cloud protects virtual, physical, and cloud environments and includes the Pay-as-you-go business model.

Backblaze

It provides personal and business cloud backup and cloud storage—Backblaze stores data in storage pods on open-source hardware platforms and cloud-based Backblaze Vault file systems. You can access backup data from a web browser on your mobile device or computer. You will download the restore via SSL.

IDrive

IDrive is aimed at consumers and small businesses and includes snapshots, synchronization services, and hybrid data protection.

Unitrends

It allows customers to use Forever Cloud to indefinitely back up their private clouds. In addition, it offers several disaster recovery (DRaaS) options as a service for recovery.

Veeam

Offers cloud backup through CloudConnect products. Service providers can work with Veeam to create backup and recovery destinations in the cloud.

Druva

Druva has three main products. While enterprise-level DruvainSync is endpoint-centric and backs up data between physical and public cloud storage,  Phoenix backs up and restores records in the cloud of distributed physical and virtual servers. The software agent used. In addition,  Druva acquired Cloud Ranger in 2018 to protect AWS data.

Arcserve

Arcserve has expanded its Unified Data Protection (UDP) service with the purchase of Zetta. This product includes Arcserve UDP Cloud Direct Direct-to-Cloud Disaster Recovery and Backup. Cloud protection is aimed at midsize businesses.

Carbonite

Carbonite sells to consumers, SMBs, and businesses. The company's products are secure documents, email, music, photos, and settings, available to Windows and Mac users. In March 2018, Carbonite acquired competitor Mozy from Dell EMC and integrated its services into its products. In 2019, Carbonite acquired cybersecurity provider Webroot. In late 2019, content management provider OpenText acquired Carbonite.

Asigra

Asigra is a pioneer in cloud backup. Cloud backups have a built-in malware engine to prevent ransomware from breaking into your backups.

Conclusion

It goes without saying that data loss can be very costly to any of us, and backups should be part of cyber hygiene for everyone. In a sense, backup is intended to protect your data investment. Now let's think ahead so as not to lose this investment. Cloud backup is one of the best options to keep your data safe.

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