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Why is a cloud backup strategy necessary?

When backing up to the cloud, it's important to take precautions against data loss. See how approaches like redundancy can bolster your backup strategy.

While the cloud is generally considered a safe and reliable place to store data, cloud storage providers do lose or damage files. And it happens more often than you may think. Unless the customer has a cloud backup strategy in place, that missing data is lost forever.

To be fair, most cloud service providers treat customer data with great care. Storing data in multiple locations is a routine industry practice, thanks to approaches such as redundancy, which allows the provider to instantly replace files that have been damaged or destroyed by technical failure, fire, flood, earthquake or other type of catastrophe.

Despite such precautions, human error, carelessness, data vandalism and even corporate bankruptcy can result in temporary or permanent data loss across all locations. The fact is customers are generally forced to take a provider's promise of full data protection at face value. But for many organizations, that's simply not good enough.

When a cloud service loses a customer's data, the obvious reaction is to sue the provider. Yet, even a hefty financial settlement won't bring back the missing files, many of which may be irreplaceable. This is why an organization needs to create its own cloud backup strategy rooted in geographic and media redundancy.

Like a cloud storage provider, a data owner should keep data backups at different locations, allowing multiple copies of each file to exist at all times. One cloud backup strategy is to use multiple cloud backup services to create a custom-tailored and redundant cloud backup environment. If one provider fails in its backup responsibilities, identical intact files can still be retrieved from another service.

Cloud storage is not the same as a cloud backup.

Remember, however, cloud storage is not the same as a cloud backup. Cloud storage services, such as Dropbox, save files and maintain version histories while syncing files across multiple devices, enabling seamless file sharing across multiple users. A cloud backup service offers the extra protection of capturing storage snapshots at regular intervals, allowing files to be restored to a specific point in time.

Even when using multiple cloud backup services, many organizations sometimes opt to maintain up-to-date copies of critical files on storage resources located inside their own data centers. This approach allows for fast access to critical files without relying on a distant provider. Redundancy is important, as data can be saved on hard drives or, for long-term archiving, on optical or tape media. For very strong protection, archival data can be periodically duplicated and moved to another physical location, such as a branch office or warehouse.

Put together a solid cloud backup strategy, and you'll never have to explain to anyone -- bosses, colleagues or customers -- why you lost their data.

This was last published in January 2018

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What is your backup strategy for cloud storage?
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