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What is Cloud Storage?

Cloud Storage
Alistair Bell

By Alistair Bell Membership Manager, Updated 30 January 2017

One of a company’s most valuable assets is data. Keeping this data secure is essential, and the primary method that businesses have tried to backup data is portable backup media, such as tape. However, data loss is still a frequent problem that companies have to deal with, along with the associated waste of time, money and potentially permanently lost information. As bandwidth and capacity optimisation technology improves, more and more companies are favouring Cloud storage as a valuable alternative to portable media. This article will help you answer the question once and for all - what is cloud storage?

Cloud backup involves sending a copy of the data through a network to an off-site server. The customer pays a fee to the host of the server, usually a third-party service provider, the sum of which is based on capacity, bandwidth or number of users. Subscriptions usually run on either a monthly or yearly basis. These systems are generally built around a client software application that works off a schedule based on the level of service bought by the user.

There are two main methods of Cloud data backup: Software-as-a-Service (Saas) and Hybrid. Backup SaaS is a web-based application accessed via a browser and operated at a central location. It exists as an alternative to the model of on-premise software and secondary service. It is usually built with multi-tenant architecture and a utility pricing model. A pure cloud system copies data directly to the service provider’s cloud. A Hybrid service, on the other hand, copies data with installed storage that resides between your infrastructure and the cloud. This solution comprises on- and off-premise components.

Benefits of Cloud Storage

A Cloud solution works off your current infrastructure, so there’s no need to buy or install any new expensive equipment. The software integrates with your IT system to locate and prioritise files for backup, and then securely transmits encrypted copies to offsite data centres. This is overall a more cost-effective solution compared to buying and maintaining a tape backup system.

Cloud-based backup saves time as well as money. Files can be backed up the Cloud automatically and continuously with an Internet connection. A web-based system makes files easy to find and restore, also saving time.

Backing your data up is pointless if you don’t have a fast reliable restoration protocol in case the unthinkable happens and a disaster causes you to lose data. A cloud backup solution can instantly restore data wherever you are, including individual files.

A Cloud-based system encrypts files to be backed up for transmission, and are encrypted until they reach their destination. The only decryption key is kept by the user. This is much more secure than an unencrypted on-data backup and recovery system.

Storing data in the cloud means that users can access their data anywhere, at any time, wherever there is an Internet connection.

A Hybrid system offers the best of both worlds, as it circumvents the limitations of either an on-premise or a purely Cloud-based solution. The hybrid cloud device offers the advantage of retaining data locally to smooth out transport to the cloud and in case restores are required. It eliminates the need for a complete second data centre or other off-site repository. If you only have one data centre, you can take your back-up data and add it to the Cloud. This data can be retrieved at any time, but with the additional advantage of being able to restore it to a different site.

Cloud Storage Solutions

What is cloud storage?

Carbonite logo - what is Cloud storage?

This solution is made for consumers and small to mid-size businesses. They are available to both Windows and Mac users, and can back up documents, emails, music, photos and settings. Carbonite offer two cloud data backup plans catering to two types of users: Carbonite Personal, which is tailored towards individuals and home offices, and Carbonite for Business, which offers more complex Cloud and software-based solutions for enterprises.

CrashPlan logo - what is Cloud storage?

Instead of just offering remote server storage, CrashPlan allows a user to use any computer connected to the Internet or a local drive as a backup target. If you have your own storage, then the software is completely free, but buying a one-computer paid plan from CrashPlan will give you unlimited storage. CrashPlan’s interface is very simple and easy to use, perfect for small business just starting out.

IDrive logo- what is Cloud storage?

A feverishly quick backup and storage service, IDrive offers an unlimited number of machines that can be included in one account. Within the system is a service called Continuous Data Protection, which allows the user to store important files every ten minutes, backing data up on a remote server. Other alternatives to conventional online backup are offered, including its IDrive Express service, which lets you backup files using a physical drive it sends you when you open up your account. The USB drive can store up to one terabyte of data without congesting your Internet connection. File restoration is intuitive and extraordinarily fast.

SOS Online Backup logo - What is Cloud Storage?

What makes SOS exceptional is the special features it provides, including the ability to wipe and locate devices, perform remote backup, and easily control bandwidth. All versions of a file can be saved indefinitely. SOS offer security options that go beyond its competitors; its safest security choice, the reassuringly titled UltraSafe Max, means that not only with SOS staff not be able to gain access to your encryption key, but files can only be decrypted on your own computer running the SOS software with a separate passphrase from your account password.

You may be convinced that your data backup system should be Cloud-based, or that your existing on-premise system should be upgraded. Your next step is to choose a solution, but with so much Cloud data backup, catering to a variety of different sizes and types of business, which one do you go for? This is a decision that can cost your business valuable time as well as money.

Software Advisory Service are here to help. We can offer non-chargeable, impartial advice from our team of experts, and create a tailored shortlist of software vendors for you, based on your specific business requirements. Contact us via the link on the right.