* Posts by Rob Cosgrove, Remote Backup Systems

1 post • joined 28 Jun 2011

Cloud storage survey FAIL: May have to, er, back up

Rob Cosgrove, Remote Backup Systems

I think you missed the point. BackBlaze is Online Backup - quite different from a cheap hard drive.

Wow, I didn’t read that survey the same way you did. I am the CEO of Remote Backup Systems, the company that more or less founded the Online Backup business in 1987.

BackBlaze is a well-respected company of smart people who are in the “online backup” business, not the “find the cheapest way to store your data” business. If they were the later type of business your points could be well taken. Fortunately for them, they are in the former.

Online backup services provide far more than storage space, and (IMHO) will never be cheaper then local disk space. They provide secure offsite storage for copies of data that you may also have onsite.

Data are stored in secure facilities which are, unlike your parlor, impervious to damage from natural disasters. Your housecat is not going to relieve himself in BackBlaze’s data center, ruining years of your Aunt Maud’s famous rhubarb pie recipes. But he might be doing that in your house right this very minute. Better check. If you have your data backed up offsite, your housecat isn’t such a problem.

Online backup services verify your data is correctly backed up, they keep redundant copies in redundant geographically separate data centers, they keep multiple versions so you can restore to last month’s version of that spreadsheet, you know, the one WITHOUT the virus. Your cheap hard drive can’t do that.

Online Backup services manage their hardware and rotate it out of service when it gets old, without impacting your data at all. When your super-cheap hard drive gets old and starts dropping sectors you’re going to lose data, irrecoverable data. And you’re going to have to go out and buy another drive and worry with properly copying what’s left of your data to the new drive. That takes time, expertise, and money – things some users won’t have.

Online Backup services monitor your backups to make sure they are done properly and on schedule. They send you status emails. Your local hard drive will not do that.

The software that comes with Online Backup services is pretty great stuff. It usually has built-in automatic agents to back up open and locked files, your email, Active Directory, System State, Sharepoint, and other special file types. It usually backs up data in real time as it is changed, or on a convenient schedule. To do all this with a cheap local hard drive you would have to purchase, install, manage, and maintain several applications, each of which is a point of failure and might be a management nightmare

Online Backup services maintain far higher standards of security and privacy protection than you do. If someone breaks into your house and steals your cheap hard drive, they will have all your information – bank records, credit card numbers, phone numbers, and yes, Aunt Maud’s secret recipes.

On the other hand, Online Backup services store your data in encrypted form, inside secure facilities that are often protected by armed guards. These facilities have backup generators, special fire suppression, redundant security systems, man traps, monitored cameras, and all manner of secret gadgets to protect your data. Nobody is going to steal your data from an online backup company – even by hacking into their systems. Your data are tightly encrypted. Even if it were possible to steal it, it would be useless.

What about regulatory compliance? Most countries have laws that govern how and where data are kept and transported. Many types of businesses are required by law to handle data in very specific ways. In NO country is a cheap, unencrypted hard drive in your parlor compliant. Most Online Backup services comply with security and privacy regulations.

You could spend far more time and money maintaining correct local backups to a cheap hard drive than you could by using an Online Backup service. So, that super-cheap hard drive you mentioned in your article might end up costing you many times more than you think, while failing at performing the important task of backing up your data.

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