February 22, 2021 — Acronis

Cloud backup vs Local Backup - You need both!

Cyber Protect Cloud

What is cloud backup?

Cloud backup is a service that an organization uses to back up its system, applications, and data to a cloud-based server in a remote location. This server can either be private or public. Some larger enterprises have the resources and budget to maintain a private cloud infrastructure, while smaller organizations typically use a public cloud service, which supports multiple tenants. With a public cloud backup service, the infrastructure is managed by the provider and the organization pays a monthly or annual subscription to use the service.  

Advantages and disadvantages of cloud backup

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The advantages of cloud backup far outweigh any disadvantages, which is why many organizations choose to back up their data to the cloud. 

Cloud backup advantages

Save money and resources. Using cloud backup is less expensive than maintaining an on-premises backup system. Your organization does not need to purchase or maintain hardware and software, nor worry about getting approval for a capital purchase. Instead, you pay a subscription fee that is an operational expense item.

Data protection in the event of a disaster. On-premises or local backups can be destroyed in the event of a local disaster, such as a tornado, hurricane, flood, etc. While your offices and systems may be destroyed, data backed up to the cloud will be isolated from that event, ensuring your organization can get up and running again.

Data is accessible from anywhere. If you have an internet connection, you can access your backed-up data from anywhere, anytime. While restoring a full backup from the cloud can take time, it is fast and easy to download just a few files from the cloud.

Better data security. Some may argue that a public cloud backup is not as secure as a local backup. Yet for a small-to-medium-sized business (SMBs) that may not have a cyber security expert on staff, a seasoned cloud provider can provide better security.

Protection from cyberattacks. Your data will be safe in the event that a cybercriminal attacks your on-premises systems. In addition to compromising or destroying production data, attackers typically delete or tamper with local backups as well. Having isolated off-site backups in the cloud keeps that data protected.

Scalability. Your organization can scale cloud services without the need to purchase more hardware or software. Instead, scaling cloud services is easy and can be done on-demand – although your subscription price will likely increase accordingly.

Cloud backup disadvantages

Takes time to download a full backup. Depending on your internet bandwidth and the volume of data, it can take time – from hours to days – to download a full backup from the cloud. 

Potential for data loss at when the contract ends. Be careful and closely scrutinize the cloud provider’s policy with regards to canceled contracts. You’ll want to be sure that you can download your backup if you decide to cancel your contract. Be sure to confirm how long the cloud provider will keep your data upon contract cancellation.

Difficult to switch cloud providers. If you have your backup with one cloud provider and decide to move to another, it can be time-consuming to make the switch. While you can simply back up your systems to the new cloud provider, you will want to migrate your older backups to the new cloud infrastructure as well. There are some tools to help you perform cloud-to-cloud migrations, but these tools work best if you only have smaller volumes of data. If you have large volumes of data backed up with the original cloud provider, you will need to download those files and then upload them to the new cloud provider’s infrastructure. Uploading and downloading a large volume of data can take a significant amount of time, depending upon bandwidth.

What is local backup?

Local backup, or on-premises backup, refers to the process of backing up your system, applications, and data to a local device, such as tape, disk, hard disk, flash drive, CD, external hard drive, or other media that is located on-site, close to the data source. While it is recommended that an organization perform a local backup, you will need a second backup on a different device (ideally stored off-site) to ensure your data is protected.

Advantages and disadvantages of local backup

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Local backup advantages

Fast recovery of large volumes. Since a local backup is not dependent upon an internet connection, it is much faster to recover large volumes of data from a local backup versus a cloud backup.

Know where your data is. A cloud provider can store your backups in different states, even different countries, if data compliance regulations do not apply. With a local backup, you know where your data resides and have direct control over access to your data.  

Local backup disadvantages

No protection in the event of a local disaster. When local backups are located close to the data source – on a local system or local data center – your data is at risk in the event of a disaster. That is why it having an off-site copy of your backup is always recommended.

Can be attacked if your systems are attacked. Modern cyberattacks, such as ransomware, don’t just attack your systems and endpoints. Often their first move is to delete local backups, preventing you from restoring infected systems and increasing the chances you’ll pay the demanded ransom. 

Not easily scalable. If you need to scale your local backup system, you will need to invest in more hardware and software to support larger volumes of backed-up data.   

Different situations when you need cloud, local, or both types of backups

To address any possible data loss, your organization needs a hybrid backup strategy, where you store backups locally and in the cloud. The industry refers to this strategy as the 3-2-1 backup rule where you keep your data in three places, across two media, with one backup stored offsite, such as in the cloud. There are a few reasons why a hybrid strategy makes sense.

Regardless of the security measures your IT team and cloud provider put in place, there is always a chance that a cyberattack can compromise one of your backups. If your production systems are attacked, chances are good that your local backup will be compromised or deleted. However, if you have a cloud backup copy, you can restore your systems to a pre-attack state. The same holds true if your local backup systems fail for any reason. You can recover using your cloud backup.

Alternatively, in that extremely rare case where your public cloud backup copy is compromised or the data is lost due to a disaster that affects the cloud provider’s infrastructure, you can recover your systems using your local copy.

If you use a software as a service (SaaS) application, backing up your SaaS data is important. While the SaaS provider will back up its infrastructure to comply with Service Level Agreements (SLAs), it is up to you to ensure service backup and recovery. Creating a local backup of critical files is recommended, but having the ability to automatically create cloud-to-cloud backups of your Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace accounts ensures all of the data they contain are protected against any data loss event.

Acronis solution

Acronis Cyber Protect is the first-of-its-kind solution that integrates data protection (e.g., backup/disaster recovery) with cybersecurity and endpoint management in a single solution, administered through one console and installed using one agent. You can back up a full image of your systems, including operating system, applications, and data to the cloud and/or a local device and quickly recover. 

Acronis Cyber Protect also protects your systems and data against malware – including ransomware and cryptominers – with full-stack, next-generation AI/ML-based protection, automated patch management, vulnerability assessments, and URL filtering. The solution also provides remote work and anti-pandemic features to ensure your systems and data are protected, regardless of their location.

Whether your IT department or managed service provider (MSP) delivers this unique cyber protection solution, Acronis Cyber Protect provides the most cost-effective solution to help your organization avoid downtime, eliminate data loss, and mitigate security breaches, including zero-day attacks.  

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