10 Questions to Ask Before Selecting a Backup Software Provider

Businesses are relying more and more on data that resides on their smartphones, computers, NAS, and servers. This is because we are moving towards a 100% digital world, with business processes and customer engagement becoming increasingly digital every day.

As a result, backing up critical data, systems and applications becomes an unmissable insurance policy that every business needs in the event of a disaster. Luckily, backup software is becoming easier to use and more affordable for businesses of all sizes, not just large enterprises. It’s available everywhere, especially in cloud deployment models.

But, before you rush out to buy new data backup software, make sure you know you are prepared to make the right choice for your business. Here are 10 questions you should ask any potential backup software vendor to help you decide what is best for you:

1. Is my backup secure?

Your data should be encrypted at-source with strong encryption and a password only an authorized user knows before sending it to secure off-site data centers. Your privacy must be the vendor’s top priority. All communication between your systems and the cloud need to run through secure channels with SSL encryption.

2. Is my backup safe?

Or even better, are the data centers Tier-IV designed? Your backup vendor’s data centers should be equipped with UPS and backup diesel-generators, and designed to ensure constant power availability for up to 48 hours to sustain an undefined power outage. The Tier-IV data centers should not interrupt availability for any planned activity, and sustain at least one worst-case scenario unplanned event with no critical impact. With 99.995% availability, Tier-IV is the highest availability level for any data center on the planet. Even better, your data should be saved on state-of-the-art software-defined storage, existing only for one purpose – the safety of your data.

3. Is the service easy to set up and manage?

It is important to know the amount of time you need to set up and manage your backup service. Some vendors provide an easy-to-use, browser-based console that allows centralized and remote management of backups and recovery. A web-based console can schedule different backup types with policies on different machines, and update all the clients from the console with the click of a button, which helps you to keep the service up to date at all times with little time spent.

4. What kind of backup technique is used?

Modern approaches feature incremental backup, which is a backup of the latest changes since the last backup.  So, when a full recovery is needed the restoration process would need the last full backup (only the first backup is a full backup) plus all the incremental backups until the point-in-time of the restoration. Incremental backups are often desirable as they consume minimum storage space and have smaller backup windows than differential and full backups. 

5. How long can I store my backups?

Most cloud backup providers work with retention policies. For example, if you make a backup once a day and retention is set to 30 days, the backed up data will have 30 versions. On the 31st day after the backup has run, the oldest version expires and is removed. Another popular retention policy is keeping a daily backup for the last week, a weekly backup for the last month, and a monthly backup for the last 6 months or a year.  Leading backup services will let you set the retention in a way that suits your business best.

6. Is it possible to backup remote and branch offices?

The capability to back up remote and branch offices is increasingly important for businesses who have remote locations without dedicated or skilled IT support. Find out if your backup software has this capability – it’s out there if you need it.

7. Where is my off-premises data being stored?

A complete backup service offers local and cloud backup. Because of country and legal regulations, it can be possible to have your backup stored in another country, but some businesses and countries do not want the data to leave the country at all. Therefore, most cloud backup providers have multiple data centers around the world.

8. Can I backup all PCs, servers and applications with the backup service?

Knowing what operating systems and configurations are supported will help you determine quickly if the solution matches your business needs. What operating systems does the vendor support – Windows, Mac, Linux (PCs and servers)? And what versions of these OSs? Does it support backup of applications and smartphones? It also important to find out the vendor’s roadmap, and if they match your future needs.

9. What languages does the backup service support?

Almost every backup service is available in English. But if (part of) your business is in a non-English country or region, you want your backup service in the native language of your IT staff to make the service easy to use and understand.

10. What type of Internet connection do I need to backup to the cloud? 

Nowadays, almost every internet connection is sufficient, but the slower the connection the longer a backup task will take. Some cloud backup providers provide initial seeding service for customers with large amounts of data that they want to secure in the cloud. By backing up your data to a local, external hard drive, and shipping it to the data center, you can eliminate the long backup window that comes with a large data set and quickly protect any amount of data fast. Backing up the data on your network is critical to the stability and continuity of your business.

If you’re buying new backup software, be sure to ask these questions. To learn more and see how Acronis can help you, click here.

You can also check out our white paper titled, The 8 Noble Truths of Backup and RecoveryDownload it here!