There are multiple ways a user can backup data, the majority of these fall under the “local backup” category.  Forms of media include CD, DVD, RAID, USB, or other forms.  No matter how ‘safe’ a local backup device may seem, it is always vulnerable to natural elements like fire damage or water, and also outside influences not under your control like theft or sabotage.  The Cloud backup was created because of the need for a more secure backup method.

Computer Backup via the CloudWe first saw instances of cloud-type backup with NAS devices – Network-Attached Storage. By having data stored on a network device, certainly susceptibility to these threats was reduced, but not eliminated. Now, we are uploading data to the “Cloud”, which is actually servers that can be hundreds or thousands of miles away, have no relation to the user, and specialize in date security. The majority of cloud backup servers are redundant as well, meaning that when one server goes down, another just steps in, with no loss of data availability or integrity. Redundancy can be used at any level of backup, but isn’t very helpful for NAS (if they are in the same facility) and most likely even less helpful for local backup (fire will damage everything, a thief will take all visible forms of data storage). So while redundancy is a good thing at any level, having more than one backup location is usually most effective when they are located in different physical locations.

The negative side of remote storage (NAS or internet cloud backup) is that the farther data has to travel, the slower it goes. It’s not necessarily the distance that is negatively impacting the time, but more has to do with the medium through which it travels. With a local backup device, a typical user has the options of USB 2.0 (480 Mbps), USB 3.0 (5 Gbps), or FireWire 800 (800 Mbps). Local ‘wired’ networks can usually achieve speeds of several hundred megabits per second, up to 1 Gbps. These speeds also vary based upon network traffic. Usually a local network connection is slower than a local direct connection (USB or FireWire). Access to the Cloud, however, is very slow by comparison.  A very high speed internet connection will deliver up to 30 Mbps. This is not a constant speed, and just doesn’t compete with the speeds offered by local connections. Why is this important? Because the size of today’s files for business or home use, can easily reach several hundred gigabytes. Uploading and downloading such large amounts of data can take hours, days, or even weeks depending on the user’s internet speed. Some cloud solutions place constraints on file size or storage capacity.

Most situations call for multiple solutions.  Such is the case with data backup and recovery.  Using both local backup technology and cloud backup gives the user the security and peace of mind that comes with a redundant secure backup – the convenience of local access but also the security that comes with remote backup.