Drawbacks of traditional off-site data backup and recovery

traditional-off-site-data-backup

Whether it’s a flood in Brisbane, a bushfire in Victoria, or a tornado in NSW, disasters are bound to occur in spite of our best plans. Last summer’s string of catastrophes in South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, and NSW was more than enough to set insurance companies back by $550 million. With disaster season just around the corner, organisations have to brace themselves yet again for the crushing financial repercussions of data loss.

Even if there are no imminent disasters, business data is still vulnerable to a slew of cyberattacks designed to exploit system vulnerabilities. Of course, traditional data backup solutions can help businesses recover their data and live to fight another day, but in this day and age, it’s simply not enough.

Traditionally, off-site backups are limited to copying data to portable media — usually tape — and then transporting the media to the remote data storage facility. Yes, you heard that right. Tape, the same technology used in VHS or cassette tapes. Just let that sink in for a moment. A medium popular in the 90s is still being used to combat modern day problems. But not only are these solutions outdated, there are also a myriad of other reasons why traditional backup methods can’t meet the needs of a 21st century organisation.

Labour-intensive

First of all, the management and maintenance of tape backups alone is a full-time job in and of itself. IT staff have to manually configure backup software on each workstation.  This is quite a task, considering how difficult it is to track and back up individual systems, especially during emergencies. Technicians also have to perform periodic backups and testing. All of this eats up a lot of your company’s time and resources — a pattern that you’ll notice with traditional data backups as you read on.

Slow recovery time

A poor presumption many business owners tend to make about tape backups is the length of time it will take to restore data. Although many traditional backup providers tout their ‘fast’ recovery times, tape drives are manually stored in remote storage facilities. This means that data needs to be carted back and forth between storage locations, slowing down the entire recovery process.

In reality, most businesses that experience an unexpected disruption may have to wait several days to retrieve the tapes and begin restore procedures. A 2014 report suggested the average Australian business can end up waiting for more than three working days. Outdated approaches can drain resources, overburden servers and increase backup and recovery times.

When businesses have to wait that long just to restore mission-critical data, financial damages can account for $21,300 lost per hour of downtime.

Vulnerable to data corruption

Like any computer or hardware, tape is a physical object that deteriorates over time. Tapes can supposedly last for as long as 30 years.  However, this figure is purely based on the assumption that the tape backups are kept under ideal conditions. Storage temperature, for instance, has to be kept at 20 degrees Celsius with minimal humidity. Anything less (or more) can result in accelerated tape decay and corrupt any data stored in the backup media.

In addition to the unforgiving conditions of tape maintenance, traditional backup methods are inherently vulnerable to a number of other risks such as:

  • Sun exposure,
  • fingerprints,
  • tape tampering, or
  • getting too close to magnetised areas can corrupt data and make tapes unusable.

Traditional backup methods are often transferred from one location to another, so the chances of problems are increased.

Susceptible to theft and security threats

Anyone can easily pilfer a phone that contains sensitive information and traditional tape backups are vulnerable to the same risks. In fact, last year, sensitive information of thousands of Lloyds Bank customers was leaked, following the theft of a critical storage device.

Cybercriminals often have several opportunities to steal tape backups. The first is when backup units are transported to off-site storage location. Accidents do happen, after all, and there’s no guarantee that data won’t get misplaced, even if you delegated the task to a third-party.

Another point of vulnerability is during storage. Low-tiered facilities generally have weak vaults and no physical security systems in place to deter attackers. If a business can’t afford security systems, they often go for the riskier option or having employees take tape backups home. It doesn’t take a security expert to know that traditional backup methods create more problems than they solve.

Cost

Comparing the cost of tape backups to other solutions will have you wondering why you didn’t switch sooner. Tape drives start at around $450 dollars and may cost more depending on the data transfer rate. Standard tapes range from $30 to $60 for each workstation or server you plan to back up. Transport and storage can cost twice as much as the initial investment. Employee training, tape maintenance, and other security considerations can clean out your business in only months.

Opting for cloud-based backups, however, and you pay only a fraction of that price. Cloud backups eliminate:

  • the cost of tapes,
  • extra hardware, and
  • transporting backups to and from facilities.

All you have to pay for is an affordable ‘pay-as-you-go’ monthly subscription that includes 24/7 customer support and fully encrypted data backups.  Plus you won’t have the hassle of labour-intensive processes.

The bottom line

Traditional off-site backups may seem like an appealing option at first. However, if you look closely, you’ll realise that this cannot be further from the truth. The effort and care required to maintain tape backups are just too great for any large enterprise.  Especially for a small business with only 20-40 employees. If you are looking for a suitable backup solution, rule out traditional backup and recovery methods and backup to the cloud.

When disaster strikes, it’s in your company’s best interest to recover data as quickly as possible. Empower IT Solutions is one of Australia’s leading cloud backup providers.  We have the technology and support to help your business quickly get back on its feet. Not convinced? Contact us today to find out how our cloud backup solution is superior to traditional tape backups.