Cloud storage and backup: Is it safe?

Moderated by Josh Gingold | February 20, 2012 -- 07:00 GMT (23:00 PST)

Summary: SMBs should carefully consider the viability of cloud storage and backup services -- or they could lose important company data.

Heather Clancy

Heather Clancy

It's Safe


Not So Fast!

David Gewirtz

David Gewirtz

Best Argument: Not So Fast!

Closing Statements

It just makes sense

Heather Clancy

There is no evidence to suggest cloud storage and backup services are less safe than local alternatives. That is especially true when you consider for many SMBs, the alternative has been a limited data management and archiving plan – due to the complexity and expense of many on-premise solutions.

Like another other technology investment -- whether it is on-premise or in the cloud -- a truly safe cloud backup plan must be backed up by a real business strategy and commitment.

Small businesses must do their diligence when selecting a cloud storage and backup provider. Look for real security (including encryption) and serious bandwidth support. Make sure the cloud provider has its own backup and disaster recovery plan for its servers – the servers on which your data will be housed. And check out the financial backing of the provider to make sure it has a long-term future.

But here is the crux of the matter: The cloud allows small businesses to get a grip on the value of their data and take steps to safeguard it and share it like never before.

The cloud is not safe

David Gewirtz

Heather is one of the IT authorities I respect most at ZDNet. I regularly read her columns, discover new and important things, and learn to think with a more informed perspective.

That said, and with all due respect to a favorite colleague, I have to tell you that not only is she wrong in this regard, she's dangerously wrong.

The cloud is not safe. First, the cloud isn't just one cloud. The cloud is made up of many different companies, with different infrastructures, agendas, skill sets, levels of funding, and degrees of dedication. Some cloud providers are very good, and some, quite frankly, are terrible.

It's not that you should avoid the cloud, it's that you shouldn't rely only on the cloud. Think about how important your company and your livelihood is, how important the livelihood and trust of all your employees is, and then take the small extra effort necessary to split your backups among different methodologies, mediums, and vendors.

A tiered backup strategy that divides your eggs among a number of baskets is the only truly responsible backup strategy.

Proceed with caution!

Josh Gingold

This is a difficult debate to score because the primary question, whether cloud storage and backup is safe, is perhaps a bit more complicated than it implies.  In reality -- and I'm not copping out here -- cloud storage and backup may or may not be safe depending on your business and the inherent interdependencies that must always be considered.

At a basic level, yes, many cloud providers now offer more security and other measures than many if not most businesses are able to provide on-premise.  In addition to security there are the issues of access, redundancy, scalability, and perhaps most of all, expertise.  Cloud storage and backup solutions are purpose-built and providers expend a lot of resources making sure it's safe so they can win more customers.

For the most part, at least in my experience, the cloud is really very safe and actually a very good idea for storage and backup.  However, the cloud also requires a certain degree of caution and therefore may be best as a "safeguard," as Heather says, as opposed to the only solution.  For this reason, I must say "Not So Fast!" and agree with David Gewirtz.  Now is not the time, as David says, "to bet your business or your livelihood...solely on cloud-based storage and backup."

So, at the very least, please proceed with caution. 


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  • It's safe. Well...sort of.

    If you have data on a device that connects to the web, it's not 100 percent safe. Online storage and backup is no more or less safe than local backup and storage on a connected device.
    Reply Vote I'm for It's Safe
    • RE: Cloud storage and backup: Is it safe?


      Not exactlly, I have a large degree of control on what happens on my local storage. I have no control over the service provider hiring a kid fresh out of school that makes a huge mistake or the hundreds of things that can go wrong.
      Reply 1 Vote I'm for Not So Fast!
      • *BINGO*

        One can either own or lease the space.

        And the moment one lease's it, as I recently read, there is no "total cost of ownership" any longer. No equity, no control - or any real control, you're delegating it to somebody who may or may not have individual interest in mind or in heart, because they are too busy thinking about their own survival (undercutting competition, which means corners get cut along the way...)

        Never mind Terms of Service agreements... once lawyers become cheap then everybody can afford one and everybody will need one... see "undercutting competition" above for more...
        Reply 1 Vote I'm for Not So Fast!
  • IT Support

    It depends on the data being stored. If you take data that NEVER be breached. Then , no, it's not safe. However, most data, with the proper backup, does not fall into that category because the chances of a breach are so low and the potential damage is not that high. Most <a href="">IT Support</a> companies recommend the use of cloud hosting.
    Reply Vote I'm for It's Safe
    • RE: Cloud storage and backup: Is it safe?


      "Most IT Support companies recommend the use of cloud hosting." I certainly wouldn't as a professional working in this field. It is anything but safe.
      Reply 1 Vote I'm for Not So Fast!
    • Most IT support companies?

      Apart from Geitner Group*, which sources have bothered to ask every single IT support company to get a proper consensus?

      * and I doubt they asked every IT support company as well... that gets expensive, trying to remain ethical when agendas sound cooler...
      Reply Vote I'm for Not So Fast!
  • RE: Cloud storage and backup: Is it safe?

    I think it is safe as it can be, given the fact that most connections can or will be either Fiber Channels with dedicated links or in a controlled environments as a private cloud internally. Realistic, nothing in this world is actually safe, but the key concept is prevention. If it's set up correctly, it can be an effective tool with miminal down time. This also includes the CIA triangle.
    Reply Vote I'm for It's Safe
    • RE: Cloud storage and backup: Is it safe?


      It's the CIA Triad and I do wish people would stop touting it as a model for security. It simply isn't. It's just a bigger target than most.
      Reply 1 Vote I'm for Not So Fast!
      • I'll show you mine if you show me yours

        Links to articles supporting actual evidence to these claims everybody makes, that is.

        What's a "CIA Triad", apart from the old song sung by Jefferson Airplane some 45 years ago?
        Reply Vote I'm for Not So Fast!
  • Cloud storage is only safe until the government shuts down your provider

    Once the government pulls a "Mega-Shutdown" on your provider you are out of luck. And the way things are going you never know who is going to be shutdown next.
    Reply 2 Votes I'm for Not So Fast!