One thing with data backup is that there is no single solution that will make it completely failsafe for your backup data. We at BestBackups are advocates of online backups, but we also know that having online backups alone is not an ideal solution (although it is much better than having just a couple external hard drives where you randomly copy your files to).
The thing is that if you have just a single point of anything, then when that point fails, you are definitely doomed.
So, are you saying cloud backups can fail?
No, we are not claiming that. We cannot claim that with certainty, actually.
All online backup companies use secured data centers, either at Amazon S3, Rackspace or their own data centers. At least, the providers we have reviewed and been recommending here use secured and reliable data centers only. And there are several processes and checkpoints to ensure that the employees of those companies will not interfere or modify your data.
So there is that. We are not saying it is impossible that your backup data on the cloud won’t be corrupted. There is very slim chance of that, but then the chances of losing your locally backed up data is a lot higher.
The problem with relying only on online backup data is that it is limited by your Internet connection. There we said it, limited.
Yes, as those are backup services over the Internet, access to it is only possible through an Internet connection. Imagine the horror of backing up and downloading 2TB of data. Do you know how long it will take? Well, it will depend on your connection speed but still, it will take a lot longer than using locally backup media.
Sure, Internet connectivity speed has been improved in the recent years. Now we have high speed ADSL lines and fiber optic lines, but not everybody can afford fiber optics (except in Japan and Korea, maybe). And in the Western world, there are still bandwidth limitations (which is silly) depending on your ISP.
Even if you have a good ADSL line with high or unlimited bandwidth, you are still at the mercy of connection speed. Unless you are sitting on your own backbone, there is no way you can backup and restore terabytes of data in short time.
But that’s the thing. Online backups aren’t meant for immediate backup and restore. They are meant as redundant copy at an offsite location in case your local backups fail. Don’t take them for immediate access.
Which local backup media should we use then?
Commonly used media will be hard drives. For good reasons too. They are fast, affordable and accessible. Say all you want about tape drives. It is still a fact that hard drives are a lot more accessible and easier to use than tape drives. Besides, tape drives are meant for archiving purposes, rather than constant backups. Except for big corporations, perhaps.
Yes, we have preached about how it is a bad idea to rely on hard drives as backups. But we never said that hard drives are hardware equivalent to Darth Vader. It is bad idea to rely ONLY on hard drives as backup and data storage. That’s what we meant.
Then for local backups, there are two options you can use: external hard drives or NAS devices. If you have relatively small amount of data (like just one laptop or so), then maybe a couple external hard drives would suffice. But if you have a lot of data, or are running a company, then NAS are good choice.
Yes, NAS still uses hard drives to store data, but the way NAS are structured make the chances of losing data just because a single hard drive crash a lot lesser. Plus, they are speedier, and depending on the way they are configured, you can get a huge amount of storage for backup compared to using single hard drives.
3 – 2 – 1 Backup Plan
A truly failsafe backup solution is called 3 – 2 – 1. We have explained in length about it here so we won’t be repeating about it. In brief, it is a setup that includes 3 copies of data, 2 different media for data storage, and 1 offsite location. That’s the completely failsafe solution. You should really read up our article on it if you haven’t.
So as you probably have guessed by now, 2 different media for data storage are meant as local backups. The issue here is what to use. Commonly, it will be one medium which is accessible, rewritable, fast and affordable when it comes to $ per gigabyte. Only hard drives fit the bill. For the other medium, the choices vary. Again, read our article on 3 – 2 -1 where we explained in details.
Like we mentioned above, using an NAS lowers the chances of losing data because one hard drive fails. NAS is an acronym for Network Attached Storage, and basically it is a device that is connected to your network via LAN cable or wireless. Then inside the device, you can install hard drives. NAS devices can house from one to quite a few hard drives, depending on the price. They are specialized for file handling, and as such you get extra capabilities that you normally won’t see in using single external hard drives.
Main capability is in RAID configuration. It is basically either software-based or hardware-based configuration which dictates how the NAS will use all hard drives installed within. You can configure to collectively use all hard drives as a single storage unit, making it possible to house huge amount of data (think 1TB hard drives x 4), or you can make it to mirror data from each other so that when one hard drive fails, your data will still be on other drives. There are some hybrid models of that too. For a more detailed description, check out the wikipedia page for NAS.
Still, backing up to NAS isn’t just copy and paste. You have to do proper scheduled and automated backup, with versioning and all that. Otherwise your backup will be a mess. Sure, you can do that manually but do you really want to? Or rather, do you have such free time? We would rather not. Especially when backup software can do that job for you.
Backing Up The NAS
Then if you are backing up locally to NAS, it makes no sense backing up from your computer to the cloud. All your backup data is on the NAS, and the purpose of using a cloud backup is as an offsite copy of your backup. So why not just backup your NAS onto the cloud? All your backup data is already on the NAS, so why not?
So here are 5 best cloud backup providers that can backup your NAS device too. Check them out after the break.