Why should you store back up to media offsite?

Having an offsite backup of your important data provides protection that onsite backups alone cannot. Storing copies of your data offsite mitigates the risk of permanent data loss due to localized threats. Here are some key reasons why offsite backup should be part of your data protection strategy.

Protects Against Localized Threats

Onsite backups provide protection against things like accidental deletion or drive failures. However, they are still vulnerable to localized threats that could damage or destroy all copies of your data at a single location. This includes:

  • Natural disasters like fires, floods, tornadoes, etc.
  • Building system failures like burst pipes, electrical issues, HVAC problems, etc.
  • Theft of storage media
  • Hardware failures that damage all onsite backup copies

Having offsite backups provides an additional layer of protection against catastrophic events that could otherwise cause permanent loss of your data. If something damages or destroys your onsite backups, you still have an offsite copy to restore from.

Allows for Greater Restore Flexibility

With only onsite backup, you can only restore as fast as you can copy data back from your backup location. This may require restoring terabytes from a NAS or tape backup device. It can be a slow process if you need to restore a large amount of data quickly.

Offsite backups allow you to restore directly from the cloud or a remote data center. Cloud storage in particular makes it easy to quickly transfer data to any location. This flexibility enables faster disaster recovery since you aren’t bottlenecked restoring onsite.

Supports Disaster Recovery Planning

Every organization should have a disaster recovery plan detailing how critical systems and data will be restored in the event of a catastrophe. Offsite backup is a key component of effective disaster recovery:

  • Restores can be performed independently of the main office infrastructure.
  • Backups are accessible from anywhere, enabling restore to a secondary location if needed.
  • Backups are distributed geographically reducing the chance of any single event affecting all copies.

With only onsite backup, disaster recovery is much more difficult and risky. Having offsite copies of data ensures business continuity even in worst case scenarios.

Facilitates Regulatory Compliance

Many regulations and compliance standards have backup requirements, including retaining copies offsite. Examples include:

  • PCI DSS – Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard
  • HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
  • SOX – Sarbanes-Oxley Act
  • GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation

By incorporating offsite backup into your data protection policies, you ensure your backups will meet regulatory requirements for protected data sets.

Protects Against Malicious Activity

Onsite backups are vulnerable to malicious activity that could either damage backup copies or prevent recovery. Examples include:

  • Ransomware encrypting online backups
  • Insider deleting or modifying backups
  • Hacker exploiting vulnerabilities to destroy backups

Storing backups offsite adds protection against malicious scenarios. Backups are isolated from the corporate network and kept at a secure remote facility.

Reduces Risk of Backup System Problems

Media problems, hardware failures, software issues, or human error could render your backups unrecoverable. Offsite backup mitigates this risk.

If you have problems recovering from your onsite backup, you still have offsite copies you can restore from. Keeping duplicate backups offsite provides insurance against issues impacting restore capabilities.

Cost Effective Insurance Against Worst Case Scenarios

Offsite backup provides an additional layer of protection for mission critical data. The cost is relatively low compared to the value of the data being protected.

Losing key data sets could be catastrophic for an organization. Having offsite copies can mean the difference between recovering or folding. It protects against scenarios that onsite backup alone cannot.

Enables Storing Backups Farther Back

Maintaining a large number of onsite backups is expensive, requiring purchasing and managing extra disk space. Offloading older backups offsite makes it more affordable to retain backups longer.

This supports compliance requirements to keep backups for set timeframes. It also provides recovery points much farther back in case you need to restore older data.

Supports Business Continuity

Business continuity planning ensures that business operations can continue even during catastrophic events. Offsite backup is essential for effective business continuity:

  • Access to data from alternate locations prevents downtime
  • Backups facilitate faster RTO when recovering from outages
  • Distributed backups prevent a single failure from halting operations

The business can quickly fail if backup and recovery depends entirely on the main office infrastructure. Offsite backup enables continuity even if that infrastructure is damaged.

Allows Redeployment of IT Resources

For a major disaster like a fire or flood, companies may need to redeploy IT infrastructure at a temporary location. Offsite backup makes this feasible:

  • Data can be downloaded at the alternate site to recreate necessary systems.
  • Applications can be reinstalled from scratch and restored from backup.
  • New hardware can be procured and restored with offsite data.

This level of flexibility is only possible if critical data and backups are accessible offsite. It minimizes business disruption by facilitating temporary IT deployment.

Supports Remote Work Environments

The shift to remote work has meant more offsite access to data and apps. Offsite backup provides resilience for this distributed model:

  • Workers can access backups directly from home
  • Backups facilitate “work from anywhere” capabilities
  • Geographic distribution protects against localized outages

Having offsite copies enables remote access without depending solely on the corporate network. It provides reliability for a decentralized workforce.

How to Select an Offsite Backup Strategy

There are different methods companies can leverage for offsite data protection:

Cloud Backup

Backups are transmitted and stored using public cloud storage services like Amazon S3 or Azure Blob Storage. This makes data accessible from anywhere and simplifies offsite protection.

Managed Backup Services

Backup providers have secure data centers where they maintain offsite copies of customer data. Makes offsite backup easier for organizations to manage.

Offsite Tape Rotation

Tape backups are rotated out to another office or an offsite tape vault. More work than cloud options but tape is inexpensive for large amounts of data.

Media Replication

Data is continuously replicated to a device in a secondary office or failover site. Provides low RTO but duplicate hardware is required.

Companies should choose the offsite backup approach that best fits their budget, recovery requirements and capabilities to manage.

Best Practices for Offsite Backup

To leverage offsite backup effectively, companies should follow these best practices:

  • Perform regular test restores from offsite copies to verify recoverability.
  • Encrypt data prior to transmission and at rest to ensure security.
  • Document detailed recovery procedures for restoring from offsite backups.
  • Have defined RTO/RPO requirements and validate backup systems meet them.
  • Use modern mechanisms like cloud storage for easier offsite backup management.
  • Supplement real-time replication with less frequent backups for greater recovery flexibility.

Potential Drawbacks of Offsite Backup

While offsite backup provides significant advantages, it also carries some potential drawbacks including:

  • Added bandwidth usage and cost when replicating data offsite.
  • Increased complexity to manage and test backups in multiple places.
  • Latency for access and restores from an offsite location.
  • Storage costs for maintaining duplicate backup copies offsite.
  • Time and effort to retrieve offsite media like tapes for disaster recovery.

Organizations should weight the protect offsite backup provides against the added costs and complexity.

Offsite Backup Options

Here are some top tools and services for offsite data protection:

Offsite Backup Option Key Features
Veeam Cloud Connect Creates cloud repository for backups hosted by a Veeam service provider.
Asigra Cloud Backup Backup software with globally distributed cloud storage options.
Druva CloudRanger Cloud-native backup tool for AWS workloads.
Acronis Cyber Backup Hybrid cloud backup supporting cloud storage integration.
MSP360 Managed Backup Turnkey secure cloud backup managed by backup experts.

The Importance of Offsite Backup

While onsite backups provide day-to-day protection, offsite backup is essential for comprehensive data protection and disaster recovery. Keeping additional copies offsite mitigates risks that onsite backup alone cannot.

Losing access to critical data for any prolonged period can severely harm an organization. Offsite backup provides the insurance policy against worst case scenarios like natural disasters, ransomware and malicious activity that could otherwise cause permanent data loss.

The relatively low cost for offsite storage and services makes this an inexpensive way to significantly enhance data protection. Companies should implement offsite backup policies to ensure business continuity and quickly recover from outages.

Technologies like cloud backup have made offsite protection easier and more affordable than ever. Assess your RTO/RPO requirements and use the offsite backup approach that best enables achieving those objectives within budget.

Keeping duplicate copies of important data offsite is a best practice that mitigates risks onsite backup alone cannot. Every organization should incorporate offsite backup as part of their business continuity strategy.