What happens if your Cloud backup fails?

10 October 2014 by Ben Lloyd

Cloud computing offers dozens of advantages for businesses looking to access the latest enterprise-grade technologies without all of the financial outlay usually attached. With ever increasing volumes of data, many companies are now relying on Cloud backup services to provide the additional capacity they require. These services are then further enhanced by storing the backed up data offsite.

But what measures do these Cloud providers have in place to protect your backed up data?

Off site, out of mind?

Because offsite data storage has worked so well for so long, many IT administrators can place too much faith in the system. There is a natural assumption that everything is fine, particularly because the backup and transfer process is automatic and transparent.

However the remote data centre is affected by the same issues as your own, so how exactly does your Cloud backup provider protect your data from loss? What happens if your system fails and the service provider loses your backed up data?

It is extremely important to make secondary backup part of your evaluation criteria when trying to choose a service provider. You should only ever consider services from providers with published backup regimes and schedules designed to protect your data.

Far from being a theoretical problem, there is a precedence for Cloud-based data being permanently lost. Users of the Amazon AWS platform have had their . When concerns were raised, Amazon pointed the affected customers to their security precautions (part of the standard terms and conditions) that place the burden of responsibility for data protection on the client.

If all else fails

If your local system is damaged and the offsite backup is unavailable, you have one final avenue of recovery – physical data recovery from the servers themselves. Advanced recovery techniques now allow data to be extracted directly from failed RAID arrays and deleted partitions.

Always look for a reputable data recovery company, like Ontrack, who have helped dozens of companies to recover from data loss disasters that have threatened the very operational future of their organisations. As effective as these techniques are however, they should only ever be used as a last resort because the recovery process may need to be completed offline, leaving your systems out of action for the duration.

A final warning

Physical data recovery may be impossible from a Cloud backup service. Because data is normally stored on shared hardware, other service users are unlikely to agree to your business taking drives for recovery. Unless explicitly permitted in the terms of service document, you cannot rely on physical data recovery as a last line of defence in the event of service outage.

Better to be prepared

It is good to know that your business still has options in the face of a data disaster, but physical data recovery from deleted partitions is an avenue of last resort. Far better is to implement a backup regime which reduces the risk of loss from the outset.

Cloud backup services provide a useful and cost-effective way to manage your growing data storage needs. As stated above however, you need to ensure that any potential provider has a proper backup regime of their own in place to offer the protection you expect. Otherwise you may well be forced to maintain your own onsite backups for the foreseeable future.


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