Cloud Backup vs. Local Backup: What’s The Best Choice?

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November 9, 2021

What does backup mean? For the small and medium-sized business, the answer isn’t always so clear cut. We’ll walk you through what you need to consider.

Onsite server rooms. Remote cloud storage. Backups to your backups. Disaster recovery speed. Data handling regulations. There’s a lot of moving parts to consider when you put together a backup strategy for your company. In the debate between cloud backup vs. local backup, what’s the right choice for you?

If you’ve already gotten rid of your server room, and moved all your operations to the cloud, your decision has already been made for you. You’ll need a cloud backup to your cloud services and files. But if you’re like the broad majority of companies that have at least part of their operations running on local servers, you’ll need to think through where you want your backup data stored, and how often. How do you know what combination of cloud backup vs. local backup is right for you?

Coming to the right answer is a matter of asking the right questions. A good managed service IT provider can help you understand your usage patterns, software requirements, and the platforms you use. Here at Integris, we help our clients decide between cloud backup vs. local backup, every day. Here’s some of the things we encourage them to consider.

Cloud backup vs. Local Backup: the Key Differences

First—let’s talk definitions.

“Local backup” is redundant storage that occurs onsite. Put simply, that means that continuous snapshots of your system are taken, copies are made, and that information is dumped into a backup appliance device at your company.

“Cloud backup” operates in much the same way, except that when those copies are made, they are uploaded into the cloud, where servers at major cloud storage companies hold and monitor your data.

Both these options work well, but they have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s talk about what’s right for you.

“I have an onsite server room, and a need for continuous backups in the event of a disaster recovery.”

You already have servers, a database, applications, email and file systems that are housed at your offices. In this case, we usually recommend an onsite/offsite business continuity plan. We provide you with an onsite backup device that uses inverse chain technology to capture a string of system snapshots of your entire system, every few minutes. This ransomware-resistant system then backs up all this information automatically to the cloud. If an employee has mistakenly deleted a file, or you’ve had to recover after a ransomware attack, your local backup device can restore the needed data in a flash.

This hybrid approach works beautifully in the event of a disaster. During a fire, flood, tornado or power outage, the cloud backup can be downloaded in minutes, ensuring you never miss a beat. And, if your physical plant is destroyed, our backup plans will allow your workers to operate remotely in the cloud until your offices are restored.

And the advantages extend far beyond just the backup aspects of your business. Because you’re writing your backups to the local device first, this means you won’t be in the position of constantly writing your backup information to the cloud all day. Your backups are stored to your local backup device, and sent to the cloud in tne evening, when your system traffic goes down. With this approach, you’ll increase your overall network speed and health with this option. In the majority of circumstances, this is the option that we recommend to clients.

“I have a server room onsite, but disaster recovery isn’t as big of an issue for me. I need a cheaper option.”

If you’re interested in a more budget-conscious option, you might want to consider an offsite server backup option. This system doesn’t have an additional onsite backup server added to your system. Instead, all your backups go directly to the cloud. The big advantage here is price. You’ll still get your backups stored safely in the cloud.

However, instead of backing up your data every few minutes, your system might only back up twice a day. If you’re a company that is managing a lot of customer transaction data from an online store, or you’re continuously pulling from your data stores to operate, this option will be a poor one for you. Why? Because it could take some time to get your files recovered, and you will miss a lot of data in the time in between because your cloud backups are more infrequent.

Another significant “con” to this strategy is what happens in the event of a physical disaster like a flood or fire. Your local storage on your servers/devices would be destroyed, and there will be parts of your recent data that would simply be unrecoverable.

And here’s another point to consider. If your business has to recover after a serious ransomware attack, you’ll be in a position where your entire business will need to be downloaded again from your cloud backup onto your local servers. This is not a speedy process. It could take days, even weeks. That’s simply not a tenable situation for most busineses.

This is why, in nearly every instance, we recommend the onsite/offsite option. It’s simply your safest bet. You have to weigh whether the cost savings is worth the data loss and service interruption risks.

Cloud Backup vs. Local Backup: Taking the Next Step

Now that you’ve had a chance to walk through the cloud backup vs. local backup arguments, it’s time to start looking at your options more closely. Luckily, we have some terrific resources that will let you take a deeper dive into the information. Our recent blog on how to choose a backup services provider will help you understand what to look for. And our analysis of business continuity plans will help you understand the protections you need to have in place to bounce back after natural disasters.

And of course, we’d love to talk to you about our cloud backup solutions for small businesses, or our business continuity planning service for clients.

Contact us today for a free consultation. We’d love to talk to you!

Susan Gosselin is a Senior Content Writer for Integris. A career communicator and business journalist, she's written extensively on IT topics and trends for IT service providers like Iconic IT and ProCoders Ukraine, as well as business publications such as Technologyadvice.com, Datamation.com, The Lane Report and many others. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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