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Cloud or On-Site Backup: Which is the Right Option for Your Business?

by | Jun 17, 2021

A purple graphic showing a cloud with files being transfered around it.

In today’s data-rich business environment, backups are a critical concern. Organizations rely on their data to help them reach their business goals, deliver granular insights, and inform business decisions.

Lost or corrupted data could mean anything from a minor inconvenience to a system-wide shutdown. In best practice, a proactive approach is necessary to prevent disaster. You must ensure you have a “clean” copy of your systems to restore from in case of a malware infection, software glitch, accidental deletion, or other human error.

Backup Options

The two main options for backups are cloud backup—also known as an online backup—or onsite backups. Depending on your business niche, resources, and specific needs, one or the other might be more suitable for you. However, some companies prefer a hybrid approach as it provides redundancy and critical peace of mind.

Let’s take a deep dive into cloud backup and onsite backup. We’ll provide a comprehensive breakdown and comparison of each solution and their core differences, use cases, and what you should choose based on your type of business.

Onsite/On-Premise Backup: Pros and Cons

Onsite backup, also referred to as on-premise backup, is the process of backing up systems to a local disc, drive, or server. You can choose from media types as your backup target, depending on the data you need to protect.

External drives are convenient and inexpensive. You can back up to your external drives manually or continually, and most operating systems can be configured to automate the process. However, should you experience a major power surge or outage, you could lose your backup too.

External Drive, Automated Backups

If you choose this route, it’s critical to ensure you have a battery backup (BBU) power source. A BBU keeps your systems powered temporarily, giving you enough time to back up and safely shut down computers before any data is lost.

That said, power issues aren’t the only reason that systems go down. Fires, floods, or other catastrophic damage to your premises could cause you to lose both your system and your backup.

If all your data and systems fit on a portable drive, that could also be an option for you. On the plus side, this is a very inexpensive way to facilitate backups. On the downside, you’d need to establish a routine around backing up data and be sure to store the drive in a safe place. Small portable drives are easy to lose or fall into the wrong hands, and there is greater potential for physical damage to the backup drive itself.

CDR and Tape

Writable discs like CDR and tape are convenient, inexpensive, and easy to store. However, it might be a more complex and time-consuming matter if you need to restore from them.

Plus, with today’s stringent data privacy legislation, these media types do not easily allow for records to be individually accessed and destroyed. Under GDPR, for example, customers have the right to have their personally identifiable information (PII) removed from company systems, and it would be exceedingly difficult to do so with CDRs or tapes. Essentially, if you received such a request, you would need to destroy the entire disc and any previous discs that contained their information. If that sounds like a nightmare in the making—it is!

In summary:

Pros of Onsite Backups:

  • Greater control over frequency and storage of backups.
  • Retrieving your data is quick and straightforward.
  • Convenient.
  • Portable.
  • No ongoing subscription fees.

Cons of Onsite Backups:

  • Complicated (or impossible) to restore or extract single files.
  • If your systems go down when you’re not in the building, you might not have access to your backups.
  • You need to purchase and maintain adequate backup storage media.
  • You are responsible for ensuring your backups are viable and error-free.
  • Should you lose your premises, you might also lose your backups.
  • Backups are more hands-on and labor-intensive using this method.
  • Drives are susceptible to damage, theft, or human error (such as if an employee overwrites data by mistake).
  • Server hardware, if required, is expensive to buy and requires dedicated IT resources to maintain.

Who Should Use Onsite Backups?

Despite all the drawbacks, onsite backups are recommended as part of a hybrid backup and disaster recovery strategy. They can also be the preferred method for solopreneurs, consultancies, freelancers, home-based businesses, and small companies that don’t need to store massive amounts of data.

Magnetic tape and writable CDR backups are used for companies that produce media-rich content or legal practices that need to archive customer documents for a period of time.

Cloud Backup: Pros and Cons

Cloud backups are the preferred solution for all kinds of organizations, from small businesses to large enterprises. Smaller companies use cloud backups for convenience and peace of mind, while larger companies use them as a component of a more comprehensive hybrid backup and disaster recovery strategy.

Pros of Cloud Backups:

  • Cost efficiency. Cloud backups are payable through a monthly subscription. You pay only for what you use. Staying on budget is easy because the cost is predictable, and there is no need to outsource IT expertise.
  • Security. Cloud backups leverage state-of-the-art cybersecurity and access control features; plus, data is encrypted in transit, reducing or eliminating the risk of man-in-the-middle attacks. You can rest easy, knowing your data is safe, secure, and protected from unauthorized access.
  • Automation. Cloud backups are fully automated and can be configured according to your precise needs. Daily, hourly, or continuous backups are possible—the latter option being the ideal choice for ecommerce stores, platforms, and sites that generate a lot of customer data.
  • User-friendly and accessible. Cloud backups are fully managed, available and accessible when and as needed. Plus, restoration is so easy, it doesn’t take any special IT knowledge to accomplish it.
  • Supports multiple users. Cloud backups enable team collaboration, file sharing, and multi-user, role-based access. In a world where remote work is the rule rather than the exception, access to critical files is essential. Cloud backups ensure your people have what they need to succeed!
  • Anytime, real-time access. Since your data lives in the cloud, it’s accessible to you and your team anytime it’s needed. Data is synced to the cloud immediately on login, meaning your employees have access to the most recent file versions, enabling high-level collaboration no matter where they are in the world or what type of device they are using.
  • Worry-free convenience. Automated cloud backups take this critical task off your plate so you can focus on other things. You won’t have to worry about maintaining external drives or running out of space on those drives should your business experience sudden growth. Employees don’t need to have any specialized expertise to access the system, so you won’t have to worry about training or managing complex workflows. Once you configure cloud backups on your system, you probably won’t even know it’s there—but when you need to restore, you’ll be happy it is.
  • Scalable to your needs. It’s not unusual for companies today to experience rapid growth. When that happens, it’s essential to be prepared, as if the store or website crashes, the opportunity might not come again. Cloud storage is flexible and scalable to any needs. For example, the pricing of Rewind ecommerce plans depends on the number of monthly transactions. Should your business scale either up or down, you could adjust your capacity instantly to accommodate changing data storage needs.
  • Enables disaster recovery. Cloud backups are a critical aspect of a comprehensive disaster recovery plan (DRP). If you were to lose your business premises, along with your on-premise servers, computers, and onsite backup drives, you’d need a remote backup to get back up and running quickly. Without a backup ready to deploy, your systems could face lengthy downtime, resulting in lost revenue and potentially driving customers to your competitors. A cloud backup allows you to restore systems on new devices relatively quickly, ensuring your business continuity.

Cons of Cloud Backups:

  • Requires a fast and reliable internet connection. As cloud backups are internet-dependent, lack of connectivity could be a problem. Unstable internet can also corrupt files during transfer or make restoration more time-consuming.
  • Cost. All cloud backup services charge a monthly fee, often connected to usage. Monthly plans tend to range from a few dollars a month for freelancers and small teams to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month for large enterprise users.
  • Regulations. Some clients in highly regulated industries – government, military, and finance – operate under strict security regulations that don’t allow some of their most sensitive materials to be stored in the cloud.

Who Should Use Cloud Backups?

Small businesses prefer cloud backups for convenience, ease of use, and peace of mind. The fast, efficient restoration of individual assets or entire systems in just a few clicks is very appealing. Cloud backups don’t require specialized expertise or any additional effort to manage it, meaning smaller enterprises don’t need to hire and manage expensive in-house IT capabilities.

Cloud backups are also ideal for ecommerce stores and financial services as they provide continuous data backup and the most robust security protections available.

For the enterprise, cloud backups add an extra layer of redundancy, ensuring business continuity, no matter what.

Cloud or Onsite: Just Back That Data Up!

Whether you choose an onsite or cloud backup solution, backing up data is an essential part of daily operations. Today, businesses need redundant, predictable, and user-friendly solutions they can count on to keep them up and running. When the goal is to run agile and lean, Rewind cloud backups keeps costs low while maintaining the highest levels of service and security available.

Sarah Bader
Sarah Bader
Sarah Bader is a content writer, tech enthusiast, and passionate supporter of the Oxford Comma. When she puts her pen down, she can often be found riding her bike around Ottawa or watching trashy reality tv with her dog (he’s a big fan).