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How to Choose the Right Cloud Backup Service

You already know that backing up your data is crucial, whether it's for your business or personal needs, and keeping it in the cloud is one way to make sure it's safe.

By now, you've seen the horror stories on the news about huge swaths of the West that are ravaged by fire, while other areas have been inundated by floods. Homes and businesses in those areas were destroyed, frequently without warning. Meanwhile, computer systems elsewhere have been attacked by ransomware, their data frequently lost forever.

As bad as such losses are, there can be hope for those whose data was held beyond the reach of the fire, the water, or the bad guys. Not to mention the mechanical failure or the human error. With the right cloud backup, you can get your data back and resume operations, even when the loss is caused by something wholly dumb, like erasing your entire email file.

While you can use an external hard drive as a backup location for immediate needs, such as recovering a file you erased by mistake, the same fire or flood that destroys your office will get that, too. Likewise, the malware attackers can almost always find your external drives and attack them, if they're connected to your network. However, a cloud-based solution is likely beyond the reach of those perils. But you have to pick the right solution for it to be a safe haven.

Cloud Backups

There are several ways to backup your data to the cloud, ranging from copying files manually onto a remote drive to automated, real-time backup, where every file is backed up as soon as a change is made. It's important to note, however, that cloud backups are not the same thing as cloud storage or cloud operations. Cloud backups are copies of files that exist on computers, servers, or even in cloud storage, but they're kept in a secure location that's separate from day-to-day operations.

When choosing a cloud backup service, think about what you're planning to backup and how you want it to get there. Here are some things to consider:

 ·         What are you planning to protect? Do you want secure storage for disk images of each computer? Just the data from your day-to-day operations? What kind of data is it? It matters whether you're backing up images, multimedia, text, documents, or some other type of data file.

·         Where is this data located now? Is it on the hard disks of your computers? Is it stored on a server? How much data is there?

·         How do you want the backups to happen? Should there be an application on each computer that automates the process? Should backups happen continuously or at set times?

·         How much bandwidth do you have for backup? These jobs can sometimes involve a lot of data, so if your internet connection is slow, you may need to time them so they happen when nothing else is going on.

·         Do you have regulations to consider regarding your data, including requirements for specific security measures or data locations?

·         How fast do you want to be able to recover lost data?

Knowing this information will be important when selecting a backup provider. For example, some providers limit backups to one computer per account, which may be reasonably priced, but it could mean signing up for a lot of accounts. Others have higher limits, and some don't place a limit on the number of computers.

There may also be surprises in pricing, though. For example, some providers will let you include data on external drives in your backups; others won't. Some will limit you to one hard disk per computer. Some providers will let you include servers. Many charge an extra 'network fee' for downloading large amounts of data, too. Get a detailed picture of what the service will cost you, given what you're trying to back up.

It's also important to know whether any services you're using (such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google Workspace) will play nicely with your backup solution, considering that these services have their own cloud connections.

Remember, this is your lifeboat in case of a catastrophic loss. While there are providers with some attractive low-cost or even free offers, remember that what matters is the security of your data. It's important to know how the service protects your data when it's in their hands. You should confirm that your data will be encrypted by an industry-standard method, that it will stay encrypted from the time it leaves your computers throughout the time it's in storage. Fortunately, all of the leading services provide such encryption. 

Choosing a Service

There are several excellent cloud backup services available. You can get Acronis True Image Advanced Protection, which includes cloud backup through Dell Technologies. You can also explore dedicated backup appliances that feature native cloud integration, and backup-as-a-service offerings such as Dell EMC PowerProtect Backup Service. There are many more, but you can start your exploration with these and find a viable and affordable cloud backup service that meets your business needs.