Let’s just say from the start that both online and offline backups have their place. At Blue Sky Computer Solutions we have extensive experience in implementing each strategy, sometimes in combination, for businesses. However, in order for you to decide what is right for your organisation, we thought it might help to give you some information on both.
What is an online backup?
An online backup is a solution that stores your files at an offsite hosted location. Many refer to this as cloud-based storage. The systems you are backing up need to be connected to the internet.
What are the advantages of online backups?
They’re convenient – The convenience stems from your ability to carry out backups (and retrieve files if necessary) from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.
They don’t get lost – It’s simple human mechanics. If you don’t have a USB stick to lose… you can’t lose it. And that goes for it being stolen too.
They’re more resilient in a disaster recovery situation – Offline backups can be destroyed in physical events like flood and fire. Now, yes, it’s true that online backups are still stored physically somewhere too, but that’s in datacentres that have specific provisions in place to deal with disaster, eg. multiple copies of your data.
They’re less affected by device failures – On a smaller disaster scale, even a single device failure can cause a huge issue with offline backups. Again, online backup providers mitigate this risk within their data centres.
You tend to only pay for what you need – Online backups are often priced on a monthly basis, where you can backup a certain amount of data. You don’t pay for more than you need. Whereas with offline backups, people tend to over specify… ‘just in case’…
What are the disadvantages of online backups?
You are reliant on your internet connection – If you don’t have one, you will not be able to upload a backup or any incremental work you’ve done since the last backup.
You are reliant on the speed of your internet connection – The asynchronous nature of ADSL can mean that your uploads are slow.
What is an offline backup?
An offline backup is a solution that stores a copy of your files locally. Examples of offline backup technology are:
What are the advantages of offline backups?
Internet connection speed is not an issue – Online backups are dependent upon the speed of your internet connection. It’s just the way it is. So, offline backups can sometimes be quite a bit faster to run or restore. It’s true that online backups, once the initial backup has been done, only need to do incremental backups. However, speed is still something to consider if your data storage requirements are large.
Internet connection problems is not an issue – If your internet connection is down, it won’t affect your ability to carry out an offline backup. Also, some argue that online backups consume a lot of bandwidth on your LAN/WLAN too.
Data protection and privacy – Online data storage has really caught up with the legal vagaries of data protection, but it’s a constantly moving feast. If you store your data offline, and manage your data storage procedures carefully, you are not at the mercy of a third party doing this on your behalf.
What are the disadvantages of offline backups
They are easier to destroy – A humble glass of water can destroy a hard drive. Imagine what can happen during a fire. It’s just one of the downsides.
They are easier to steal or lose – if you backup onto a USB stick and pop it into your pocket, you won’t be the first who’s lost it all without knowing.
Technology fails sometimes – Hard drives do just give up the ghost. Heat and magnets are cruel. Time ticking by causes degradation.
With that set out, if you’d like review your backup strategy and perhaps make some adjustments, please don’t hesitate to call. We’d be delighted to guide you towards the right solution for you.