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Online Backups vs. Cloud Computing

Article Date: 3/19/2013
Backups are an important component when considering the benefits of a virtual system hosted in the Cloud. Today, many businesses already choose to utilize a backup solution from an online backup provider. However, they might not fully appreciate how moving to Cloud based computing can improve their backup strategy.
Cloud computers hosted by New City IT are backed up every day. These are complete backups that can restore a system to its exact state at the time of the backup. Additionally, two weeks’ worth of backups are maintained so a system can be restored to a working state from any time within that date range.

Many business professionals recognize the need for backing up the data on their local computers. And many solution providers have responded to this need by offering online or cloud solutions for backups. Online backups can serve as a key factor in a company’s backup plan, but it is important to understand the limits to such an approach.

Online backup services typically backup only your data. Now that may perfectly match your expectations, yet consider for a moment what this means. In online backup terms, data equals your files; but not necessarily all of them. Most cloud backup providers only look for specific files in certain locations. This can translate into critical files never being backed up. Let’s look at a few examples.

I tested a well-known Cloud backup provider for a home computer. And what I noticed almost immediately was that the backup software seemed to randomly ignore some files. I assumed that any files in the ‘My Documents’ folder would automatically be backed up. However, my assumption was in correct. It turns out that uncommon file extensions are ignored for backup purposes. In this case, my Visio files and some video file types fell into this category. I also noticed that files over a certain size were being skipped. I found it a little unnerving to think that a software application was making decisions about what data should or should not be backed up without my input.

Another troublesome issue with online backup services for your local data is the consideration of the data’s location. Any files stored outside of a user’s directory are often ignored. This problem, in addition to the file type exclusion issue, can be easily overcome when you move your computing system into the Cloud.  This is an advantage New City IT offers its customer – by having your entire computing system in the Cloud with us, we are able to use traditional on-site backup solutions that allow for custom configuration regarding file types, file size and file location. And because the data is local to where the backup is being performed, there is little concern for bandwidth or internet connectivity.

Perhaps the most troubling problem with Cloud backups is that they do not protect your programs or your computer’s configuration. This might seem trivial, that is, until your computer crashes. In my experience it takes anywhere from 4 hours to a full day to reconfigure a new computer. This is assuming that you have all the necessary software and license keys immediately available for reinstall. And even after the computer has the software reinstalled and configured, there is still the additional time required to restore the data.

Restoring data can be more cumbersome than merely clicking a button. If you changed operating systems or created a different user name during the system reinstallation, the data will need to be restored to a different location than the original computer. If you are familiar with a Windows profile then this may just mean extra time in your data restore.  But most computer users are unfamiliar with the workings of a Windows profile making data restoration a daunting task. Wouldn’t you sleep better at night knowing your entire computing system, and all of its data, was being backed up each day?

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