Storage Solutions

Backup with no regrets.

According to reports from tech industry leaders such as Cisco and Microsoft, cyber-attacks against businesses of all sizes are on the rise and doing more damage than ever.

  • More than half of all businesses that are victims of a cyber-attack or data breach are subsequently subject to public scrutiny and suffer losses in brand reputation, customer loyalty, and customer trust.
  • 29 percent of businesses that are victims of attacks lose revenue, and nearly 40 percent of those businesses lose more than 20 percent of total revenues.
  • Among companies that suffer attacks or breaches, nearly a quarter of them lose significant business opportunities following the data-loss event.
  • More than 20 percent of businesses that experience data loss or suffer a cyber-attack lose customers as well. And, 40 percent of those companies lose more than 20% of their customers.

Beyond cyber-attacks such as virus, malware, ransomware, there are the possible for physical hardware failures of systems, computers, servers, NAS, SAN for various reasons such as short-circuits, power spikes, overheating or even simply aging.

There could even be environmental disasters resulting in data loss. A fire, flood, or another type of natural disaster can wipe out all the data in your location and make recovery virtually impossible. And, if you don’t have multiple backups available, the simple theft of a hard drive or storage device could easily result in significant data loss. If that’s not enough, you should never take for granted the very real possibility of hard drive failures and other another types of hardware mishaps.

It is imperative that a business should employ some level of backups to ensure important documents can be retrieved under any unfortunate circumstances.

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Backup Strategies

Simply put, a data backup is just a copy of files from your computer or device. And, as illustrated with the numerous threats described above, keeping a backup of your important business files and data is essential for several important reasons.
Virtually all computer and technology experts will tell you that any backup is better than none at all.

Nevertheless, not all backup devices and technologies are the same; nor do they all offer the same levels of protection. Consequently, for optimal protection, it is best to safeguard your data using what we here at 1Cyber call the 3-2-1 rule. Put simply, the 3-2-1 rule states that you should:

  1. Keep at least three (3) copies of your data (so no single event will destroy all copies);
  2. Store the data in at least two (2) different formats (i.e. disk, tape, cloud, etc.);
  3. Keep one (1) copy offsite to protect against fire, flood, theft, and other physical disasters.

To give you an idea of available options that can help you implement the 3-2-1 rule, let’s take a look at some of the most common methods businesses use to back up data.

Local and Network Backups

One of the easiest ways to create backups of business data is to simply store copies of important files on hard drives, tape drives or other storage devices connected to your systems or network.

Copying files to hard drives, USB flash drives, external drives, or other devices attached to individual systems or devices connected via a local or wide area network is an effective way of ensuring backups are available locally when you need them.

With any good data recovery plan, keeping local copies of backups is essential. However, due to risks associated with physical disasters, ransomware, theft, and other threats, keeping local backups should never be the only facet of your strategy.

In addition to keeping up-to-date local backups of your files and data, you should always store at least one copy offsite as is required with the 3-2-1 rule (i.e. an offsite backup server or in the cloud.)

Cloud Backups

Many businesses use Dropbox, Google Drive, and other online storage websites to store backup copies of important files.

And, while these types of services are okay for storing and sharing a few files, limitations with online storage sites (i.e. limited file versioning, lack of automated backups, limited backup folders, etc.) prevent them from being true cloud backups.

A true cloud backup service enables you to create automated backups of complete systems and store as many versions of backups as you need.)

Software Engineers can re-engineer your application by developing web-based front-ends to take advantage of modern systems while maintaining business processes and keeping costs low.

Often clients will “web-enable” a legacy application so that they can access it from outside the company firewall or provide that access to customers for ‘self-service’ type features to reduce internal costs.

Types of Storage Solutions

On-premise storage and cloud storage reside in two different locations. On-premise storage utilizes in-house hardware and software. That is, the hardware is owned and managed by the enterprise versus a cloud service provider.

A key difference between on-premise and cloud storage is financial. Cloud-based software and cloud resources are treated as operational expenses (OpEx). Because they are rented monthly, these charges are part of the operating expense.

In contrast, on-premise software and hardware are treated as a capital expenses (CapEx). They are typically purchased once as a capital expense.

One of the benefits of private cloud storage is that it combines on-premise control over infrastructure, security and data with the flexible nature of cloud technology. Like public cloud storage, private cloud storage provides the ability to dynamically scale resources up or down as necessary.

Unlike public cloud storage, customers do not need to worry about performance degradation that may occur as the result of using a remote data center, since private cloud storage resides within an enterprise’s data center.

On-Premise Storage

Storage resources are procured, owned and managed by the enterprise.

  • The enterprise is responsible for securing the storage resources and data.
  • Storage resources remain dedicated to the company.
  • The investment is considered CapEx, which is a typically a high cost.

Cloud Storage

  • Storage resources are owned and managed by a third party.
  • Storage resources may be purchased on a pre-paid or pay-as-you-go basis.
  • Storage resources may be shared in a multi-tenant environment.
  • Software is kept up-to-date as part of an active subscription.
  • IT does not have to install software updates and patches.
  • The investment is considered OpEx, which is a lower monthly cost.

Cloud vs. On-Premise Cost Comparison

Comparing the cost of cloud and on-premise storage can be misleading, mainly due to false assumptions. For example, there’s a general belief that public cloud is cheaper than on premise storage. However, many enterprises face sobering invoices they did not expect. Cloud storage pricing should not be assumed – it needs to be researched very carefully.

“Cost” can also have different meanings. For example, there’s the cost of purchasing on-premise resources versus using cloud resources. For on premise, it is wise to identify underutilized storage resources before deciding how much capacity is needed. Under buying or over buying assets is a common lament.

For public cloud, pay-as-you-go may seem attractive cost-wise until unused resources (such as virtual machines) are left running unmonitored for hours, days, weeks or even months. Similarly, prepaid public cloud capacity can seem attractive because it tends to be less expensive than pay-as-you-go. However, pre-paying for unused resources involves unnecessary costs.

In addition, cost comparisons of on premise versus cloud storage are not always apples-to-apples comparisons. If they were, then one might compare the cost of the same:

  • Number of virtual machines
  • Number of CPUs
  • RAM per virtual machine
  • Storage capacity per virtual machine

However, the wild card is the usable life of the asset, which is a public cloud handles through redundancy. If one VM, server, or data center goes down or is destroyed, it does not affect the end user’s cost. However, when on-premise equipment fails, there is the cost of replacement.

Human resources should also be considered. More IT personnel are required to manage on-premise storage than public cloud storage. While on-premise storage management software and cloud storage management software share similarities, with on-premise there are still physical boxes to manage.

The use case also matters. Highly regulated companies tend to split their storage between on-premise and cloud. Sensitive data, such as patient health records, are stored on-site while non-sensitive data is stored in a public cloud.

Non-storage related costs should also be considered when pondering what to store on-premise or in the cloud. For example, if a public cloud had an outage, what would the downstream costs be if the data were not available? If a natural disaster took out the company data center, could business as usual continue?

Public Cloud Storage Providers

Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive are the most popular cloud storage providers today. Picking between them to determine which one is the best cloud storage provider is no easy task. Each has strengths and weaknesses that don’t always overlap.

By the numbers, Google Drive has the advantage. In early 2017, the company announced it had passed 800 million monthly active users. By now, it’s probably the first cloud storage service to have passed the one billion mark.

Dropbox, once the leader in active users, last reported 500 million registered users. Of those, 11 million are paying users, including 300,000 business subscription customers (read our Dropbox Business review).

OneDrive, meanwhile serves a measly 115 million users worldwide. Then again, it’s reported that over 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies use OneDrive, which isn’t surprising given the popularity of Office 365.

Numbers aren’t everything, though. Each of the three tech giants has taken a different approach to marketing and developing their storage service, helping to define the cloud storage market along the way. Which one works best for you will depend on which approach aligns most with your needs.

What Is Dropbox?

Dropbox is a standalone cloud storage solution designed for users ranging from individuals to businesses. The storage platform offers a variety of desktop and mobile applications for easy integration with your computer and smartphone, as well as robust file syncing and sharing capabilities.

What Is Google Drive?

Google Drive is a cloud storage solution closely linked to Gmail and Google’s entire G Suite of products. With Google Drive, you have access to Google’s native office applications to edit documents, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations directly on the cloud.

Google Drive also offers a desktop client that allows you to sync files between your computer and the cloud.

What Is OneDrive?

OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage solution and the platform is well integrated with the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office applications.

OneDrive allows documents, spreadsheets, and other Office projects stored on the cloud to be shared and edited simultaneously. Note that while OneDrive is available for iOS systems, there is no Linux client for Microsoft OneDrive at this time.