Outsourcing Backup – To Do, Or Not To Do

June 2, 2008

After my post on Data Backup and Recovery I was asked by Fergal Madden of Arion Online Backup on my opinion on online backup. I thought it worth a post of its own.

As I stated in the original post, I have not used an online backup service, but I do like the idea. And for my SMB president that I wrote about in SMB’s We are not all the same I would quickly recommend it after the due diligence questions.

I do have some questions and concerns though. For vendors in the online backup space, these are some questions that your literature and materials can answer. For SMB business managers these are some of the questions to ensure that your vendor can answer.

My Questions and Concerns

A big one is vendor viability and data ownership. Should the worst happen, I want my data back. This would include any required documentation on data backup formats, hardware etc as well as legal documentation in the contract.

Next is data security; this includes the basic security that your data will not be lost or divulged where it should not be, but also that that the data storage will conform with your data retention requirements. These requirements could be legislation and e-Discovery requirements, or business requirements. For example, a major customer of ours requires seven years of data access for all data.

Online backup services usually require a one time complete backup of all your data, then the service can only backup changed data on a daily basis; this ensures that huge amounts of data don’t repeatedly have to cross your internet connection. This still presents challenges to your internet connection, especially on slower connections. For example I currently have almost a Terabyte of data to backup – and an older T1 internet connection. even that can be a challenge to backup and restore. One of me servers has approximately 500 GB of data on it – if it dies and a “bare metal” rebuild is required, how long will that data restore take?

The types of data that you receive should also be a consideration. We get large amounts of audio and video data on a weekly basis. (often in the range of 200 to 400 Mb) Backing these up (or restoring if necessary) could be hours.

Next on the list is any database management systems that you have in place. These could include tools utilizing databases such as Microsofts SQL Server, or databases by Oracle Corporation or IBM. Also included in this are databases running your email system, for example, Microsoft Exchange. Database management tools are usually backed up via their transaction logs, again this ensures that huge amounts of data do not have to be transferred across the Internet connection. Again though; if databases are large, the full restore time if the full database requires restoration could be significant.

As I said at the beginning of this post, the the SMB business I discussed in ,SMB’s, we are not all the same’ in that business presidents case, his distribution business has absolutely a minimal amount of data. Primarily an entry level accounting package and some basic documents created in their office productivity package. In his case online backups would be quick and painless.

For my multi-media rich organization – it may be more of a challenge.

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3 Responses to “Outsourcing Backup – To Do, Or Not To Do”

  1. john oneill Says:

    If it is the concept of online backup which you have difficulty with rather than the actual provider decision then you need to get informed before you can make a decision. We drew up a shortlist of 50 things you should know about online backup. It actually started out life as a list of 10 then 12 then 24 and now at fifty we are loath to amment it.



  2. I use Titan Backup to protect emails and important business documents, backups are done both on local attached HDDs and some files through FTP on remote location.

    Backup tasks for all computers are administrated from a console.

    They offer a 15 day trial at: http://www.titanbackup.com/business-solution/titan-backup.html

  3. Jenny Says:

    On the subject of file backup, sharing and storage …

    Online backup is becoming common these days. It is estimated that 70-75% of all PC’s will be connected to online backup services with in the next decade.

    Thousands of online backup companies exist, from one guy operating in his apartment to fortune 500 companies.

    Choosing the best online backup company will be very confusing and difficult. One website I find very helpful in making a decision to pick an online backup company is:


    This site lists more than 400 online backup companies in its directory and ranks the top 25 on a monthly basis.

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