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How do I evaluate cloud data backup services for my company?

Before your organization settles on a potential cloud backup provider, you must ensure it can handle your backups and restores, as well as seeding and data accumulation needs.

The best way to get started with a cloud backup strategy is to evaluate your available options. There are dedicated cloud data backup services, but some major cloud service providers also offer built-in backup capabilities. Microsoft Azure, for example, offers cloud backup capabilities for virtual machines.

It is important to look at the features and capabilities offered by each cloud backup service. The goal is to determine which one will deliver the best backup strategy for your particular environment. This means considering more than just cloud backup costs. Backup capabilities are arguably more important than cost. Factors such as recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives are also important.

Backing up data to the cloud can save time and money, but you need to be aware of potential issues. Discover what analyst George Crump has to say about cloud backup.

Once you have selected a few cloud data backup services that might be a good fit, you should evaluate them by setting up trial accounts and performing some backups. A provider can list all the right features and capabilities on paper, but provide a subpar experience when it comes to creating and restoring data. It is also possible that a cloud backup provider's service might not be 100% compatible with the systems that you need to protect.

You must verify that any cloud-based backup service being considered can not only back up, but restore your data. Using a trial subscription to attempt a real-world backup is the only way of knowing for sure whether or not a backup provider will truly meet your organization's needs.

Data seeding vs. data accumulation

There are two aspects of cloud data backup services that must not be overlooked: data seeding and data accumulation.

Ben Woo, founder of analyst firm Neuralytix, discusses issues with moving data to the cloud. Chief among his concerns? Bandwidth.

Data seeding refers to creating the initial backup in the cloud. It's a good idea to choose a cloud backup provider that allows you to send the initial copy of your data on removable media. It is unrealistic to expect to upload multiple terabytes of data across the Internet in a reasonable amount of time.

Data accumulation refers to the rate of data creation as compared to the speed at which the data can be uploaded to the cloud backup. If, for example, your organization creates 500 GB of data per day, but only has the capacity to upload 300 GB of data per day, your cloud backup strategy will be completely inadequate due to its inability to keep pace with data growth.

Next Steps

Learn how to successfully back up your cloud data

Best practices for cloud backups

Choose the best cloud-to-cloud backup provider

This was last published in March 2016

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