Traditional or Cloud-Based Backup: Which is Better for your Firm?

When we think of data disruptions at businesses and firms, we unfortunately often think of nefarious cybercrime, like phishing schemes or ransomware attacks. It’s not surprising that we connect the two. Cyberattacks are occurring with greater frequency and sophistication every day. No single industry or size of firm is immune, either.

Today, about half of all cyberattacks target small businesses. But data disruptions can occur for myriad reasons, many of which may be out of your control. Natural disasters and water or storm damage, fire, physical theft, power outages, and other service interruptions can all cause serious and unpredictable data disruptions at your firm. The magnitude of damage, coupled with its unpredictability, poses a constant and serious threat for any company, as a disruption can grind your operations to a halt resulting in loss of business, high recovery costs, and damage to your firm’s reputation.

We’re not just trying to scare you! The good news is that today, firms do have many options and solutions available to help ensure that this doesn’t happen. The key is to establish a robust data backup and disaster recovery strategy. Yet, with so many options and third-party providers, how do you choose the right solution?

To make it easy, we start by posing one key question that you should ask right now: Should I choose a traditional data backup or a cloud-based disaster recovery approach? The question of a traditional versus cloud-based solution is an important decision for your firm and one with timing, recoverability, and scalability considerations. In this post, we explain the key differences between the two solutions to help you decide how best to protect your firm’s data.

Traditional Data Backup: Familiar but Potentially Flawed

Does your firm host its software infrastructure on a physical, in-house data center or server? This is a common approach for firms of many sizes. With in-house data hosting, not only is your software infrastructure hosted locally, but so is all of your firm’s data, documents, and more.

However, this approach is not without risk. We mentioned that data disruptions can occur for a number of reasons including natural disaster or water damage. What happens if there is a fire at your primary site where your data is being hosted? If your primary site encounters an outage, your local office connections will be interrupted, making critical data, files, and documents inaccessible.

One way to mitigate the risk of lost or inaccessible data is with a traditional data backup solution. With this approach, all of your firm’s data and systems are backed up daily and are migrated to a secondary offsite facility. At this secondary location, information technology experts keep copies in a “state of readiness” so that in the event of data disruption at your firm, no matter the cause, your data can be restored and made available to you, your employees, and your clients.

If it sounds like a simple and logical recovery solution, it is! However, there are some drawbacks to a traditional data backup system. First, recovery time can be slow, ranging anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Depending on the size of the backup and other issues, such as the time it takes to re-catalog or index the two datasets, your firm will likely not have immediate access to data in the event of a disruption.

The recovery itself is also prone to error. Recovery from backup tapes can have failure rates of up to 40 percent when files are not restored to the same infrastructure as the original backup. With traditional data backup, theft also remains a risk, as your data is located on physical equipment that can be stolen or damaged by individuals.

Cloud-Based Data Backup: Offsite Management for Fast Recovery

Let’s turn to another solution: cloud-based data backup, which takes quite a different tack from a traditional data backup plan. With cloud-based data backup, your firm’s data is moved offsite to a managed service provider.

There are a few key benefits of a cloud-based data backup approach. First, a cloud-based solution tends to be faster. Virtual servers can be reinitialized almost immediately. This means that recovery time is significantly shorter compared to daily data backups at offsite facilities. Virtual servers can be installed on any host system, which means that replication also takes less time. Second, cloud-based recovery is not run on local hardware or software, which means it can which means it can be easily scaled to meet your firm’s needs.

Which One is Best for My Firm?

Now that you have the basics of each approach, how do you know which one is best for your firm? Start with several questions:

  • Do I have a particularly large amount of data and documents?

  • How long can my firm operate in the event of a data disruption?

  • Can we continue operations and serve our clients without access to files for only an hour? A day? A week?

  • What industry or legal requirements do I have for uptime and recoverability?

  • Do I work with personal protected information?

Another thing to think about as you make your decision is your growth. Do you intend to expand your firm, either in number of employees, more clients, or perhaps additional office locations? If so, selecting a solution that can be scaled should inform your decision.

When it comes to protecting your data, while there is no wrong choice, there may be a best choice. At N8 Solutions, for example, we offer a range of backup and recovery options to suit your unique firm.

This includes: 

  • Backup Basic: This is our baseline solution for firms seeking a data “safety net”. We provide incremental backups, de-duplication, and encryption.

  • Backup Pro: This centralized management solution gives you a fully-staged and tested virtual disaster recovery solution.

  • Replication and Disaster Recovery: This cloud-based solution offers instant recovery via our cloud environment.

We like to say that our goal is simple – to make you happy. That’s why we focus on people first, technology second. We’ll get to know your firm so that we can answer some of the above questions together and select the perfect data protection solution, whether that’s with us or with someone else.

Please get in touch with us today to talk about how to best protect and recover your data, the backbone of your firm.