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The biggest misconception regarding cloud-based backups is that they are superior to more traditional data storage backups. The technology has been marketed so heavily that there is a perception among some users that any service can be made better by running it in the cloud. I have spoken to a number of executives who were ready to abandon existing backup offerings -- that were working perfectly well -- simply because they were under the impression they were supposed to move backups to the cloud.
While there are some things cloud backups do very well, some jobs might be better handled by a more traditional backup approach.
The advantages of cloud-based backups include:
- Data isolation. Backups stored in the cloud are isolated from your data center, which means backup data will not be lost in the event of a data center-level failure.
- The backup target capacity can be considered unlimited. You have to pay for the data storage resources you consume, but, depending on your provider, you may not have to worry about exhausting the available storage space.
The most significant disadvantage to using cloud-based backups is that recovery times are limited by Internet bandwidth. Bandwidth constraints probably won't cause any issues for small- or medium-scale recovery operations, but they can be very problematic for large-scale recoveries. Backup service providers have even resorted to sending customers physical storage devices containing their data as a way of reducing recovery times from weeks to days.
Cloud-based backups will continue to mature and may eventually become a viable replacement for on-premises backups. For now, one of the best backup strategies involves creating and retaining local backups and replicating those backups to the cloud for safe keeping.
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