How to Deploy a Remote Backup Server: A Simple Guide to Effective Backup

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Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud
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Remote Backup Server

Backup today is a lifeline to the future for small, medium, and enterprise organizations. That's because data is the world's most valuable resource (more so than oil, according to The Economist), and you must protect it. With a backup solution in place, businesses can keep running.

Of course, to ensure that's true no matter what happens — from natural disasters and human error to ransomware attacks — organizations require two things:

  1. A backup plan that includes local and cloud backup, upholding the 3-2-1 rule of backup
  2. A backup solution that ensures protection from today's cyberthreats or which combines data protection with cybersecurity (i.e., cyber protection)

Whether the backup plan or backup solution (or any components like the remote backup server, data center storage, etc.) are orchestrated by a managed service provider (MSP) for their business clients, or whether these are handled internally at a small to medium-sized business, it's important to understand:

  • The basics of an effective, modern backup plan
  • How a backup solution is managed
  • The advantages of on-site versus off-site backup server deployment
  • How to choose a remote backup server deployment option for your use case
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This article covers each of these points, so it's clear what effective backup requires today. Then we offer key insights so you can evaluate your options and make the right cloud deployment decision for your needs.

The nuts and bolts of an effective backup plan

Threats today include natural disasters (like fire or flood), human error, and cyberattacks. That's why an effective backup plan needs to consider — and account for — each of these possibilities. A multifaceted backup approach combines local and remote (cloud) strategies, so your data is safe and recoverable in any event.

To do that, start by following the 3-2-1 rule of backup: create three copies of your data, store (at least) two copies on different media, and one of these copies offsite. By employing a multifaceted backup solution, organizations can ensure their data is always recoverable — whether through their local backup solution or by accessing information stored in an off-site data center.

What is a remote backup system?

Off-site backup solutions grant access to remote backup systems for your important data. These systems offer enhanced availability allowing restoration even if your primary site is destroyed by a natural disaster. Data, files and log records are continuously transferred from your primary site to remote server backup. Setting up remote backup services relies on four critical points:

  • Failure detection

It's critical for the remote backup system to detect if the primary has failed and respond promptly.

  • Control transfer

If the primary site fails, the remote backup service takes over data processing, becoming your new primary site.

  • Recovery time

Logs at the remote backup site can become extensive. This means that restoration will take more time. Calculating the time to restore remote backups and including it in your DR strategy is crucial.

  • Committed data check

Data transactions require ensuring the updates to backups in remote storage. Once the log records of a backup reach the remote backup service site, you can mark the latest version transfer as complete.

Difference between local backup servers and remote backup servers

The primary difference between local and remote backup services lies in location. Local backup resides on-site, while a remote backup is stored off-site.

You can store critical data in onsite backup via external hard disks, CDs, magnetic tapes, NAS backup devices, USB drives, etc.

To store backups on a remote site, you'd need reliable off-site server backup software, active off-site servers, and a stable internet connection.

Both local and remote storage present advantages and disadvantages to individual users and businesses. Let's explore them below.

On-site backup

pros

  • Quicker access

On-site backup allows storing data on-premises. This enables you to quickly restore data without an active internet connection.

  • Lower costs

External HDDs are fairly inexpensive, so they can be purchased in large quantities to store additional backups. This can be an excellent option for small businesses lacking the budget to use a dedicated remote backup service.

  • Easier installation

Physical storage devices are easy to install, manage and update. Businesses with limited backup experience can rely on professional backup software to easily create and navigate backups without external help.

cons

  • Poorer security

A physical storage device is often vulnerable to theft. As the device can be physically stolen, sensitive data stored on them is always at risk.

  • Liable to physical damage

On-site backups reside within your primary site. This makes them liable to natural disasters or human error. If you rely only on local storage, you may fail to restore essential data following a disaster.

Off-site backup

Pros

  • Multiple copies of your data

Remote backup services provide multiple servers (at different locations) to store your backups. If one of the servers fails, you can restore data from another location without hassle.

  • Enhanced security

Remote backup software encrypts data before, during and after transit. This ensures your data is always protected; even if the backup is intercepted, attackers won't be able to read its contents unless they have the specific decryption key.

  • Scaling capacity

Cloud backup services offer unlimited storage for a defined or usage-based fee. If your business creates extensive data volumes, an off-site backup service provider can take care of all data management issues.

Cons

  • More costly

Remote backup solutions are typically more expensive than on-site backup. However, the added costs offer advanced security and data accessibility.

  • Varying data restore speed

Off-site backup restoration relies on your internet connection speeds. If they're slow, restoring data may take several hours to even days, depending on the volume.

What are off-site servers?

Off-site backup has a range of specifics, but the general idea refers to placing several copies of backup data outside your primary location. You can use physical media carriers, such as HDDs and CDs, to enable data restoration should your primary site be compromised.

The main difference between cloud backup and off-site backup

While off-site backup focuses entirely on placing your data somewhere outside of your primary offices, cloud backup software typically offers additional services.

An online backup solution can simplify the entire backup process. This includes purchasing, data selection, data backup, storage specifications, cybersecurity and data restoration.

In summary

Off-site servers are primarily associated with providing storage for your data.

Cloud backups are primarily associated with providing services concerning your critical data.

Are there downsides to using online remote backup services?

There are three major potential disadvantages of online backup software.

  1. Backup and restore speeds rely on your and the provider's internet connection speed. You'd need to plan your backup schedule accordingly to ensure no business operations are affected by it.
  2. Backup data costs can be higher for enterprises managing extensive data volumes. However, cloud-based backup is the best scalable solution for such businesses when paired with sensible planning.
  3. Online server backup relies on a third-party provider, so businesses can experience a "loss of control" sense when switching from local backup. However, with the proper due diligence, you can easily find the most suitable provider to take care of your files.

How do I create a backup server?

By definition, a "server" receives, stores and sends data — files, folders, operating systems, etc. It can be a computer, software or a storage device configured to provide services. So, if you want to perform backups to a server, you can create one to fit your specific needs.

If you go for an on-site server, you can use HDDs, USBs, disks, etc. (if you're running an ‘80s-themed firm, you can also go for tape-drive devices). To create a server via the physical storage drive, you need to connect it to your primary system and enable data backup to it. You can perform manual backups or opt for an automated solution.

Suppose you want to send files and documents to a remote server. In that case, you'd need to purchase (or rent) equipment, a secondary (physical) site, and build the infrastructure required to transfer data from your primary location to the remote server.

If you opt for online storage, the dedicated backup vendor will provide the needed support to use their backup server (this includes all steps of the backup process).

Difference between cloud backup servers and remote backup servers

Although the term "cloud server" is singular, dedicated online backup typically relies on multiple servers to ensure redundancy. If one of the servers fails, you can restore your files from multiple other options without downtime.

If you rely on an off-site server, you will have one or more storage devices in a secondary location. To ensure redundancy for remote servers, you'll need multiple secondary locations to protect server backup copies from location-based disasters.

Is an on-site backup server better than a cloud backup server?

Both server types have their advantages and disadvantages. Different users need to customize their backup plans according to their specific needs. On-site backups can be better for ensuring quick file access, while cloud servers are a bit slower but enable file recovery from anywhere, anytime. On-site servers can be accessed without an active internet connection, while online storage requires one, regardless of your preferences.

Users should pick the most suitable approach depending on their data backup volumes, budget, RTO and RPO requirements, etc. As a general rule, it's best to use a hybrid approach to ensure the 3-2-1 rule and guarantee file access in all scenarios.

Cost of remote backup solutions versus cloud backup software

Maintaining an off-site backup location includes the facility, infrastructure management and data transfer costs. Additionally, if you store critical files, you must ensure their encryption and other security measures.

Cloud backup software typically offers users a complete service package. The cost of both approaches varies significantly depending on your needs. If you only want to store backups in a secondary location, the bare minimum support can come cheaper than dedicated cloud storage. However, a robust solution can save you time and effort, which, in turn, lets your company concentrate on business-critical tasks and maximize revenue.

Managing your backup solution

So how do you get access to your backups? A backup server is one that facilitates data, file, application and database backup. It has hardware and software capabilities, so you can manage and recover your backups — it can be a locally- or remotely-based server. Typically, your deployment type will dictate where the server lives.

With on-premises backup solution deployment, the backup server is installed in the local network. When it comes to cloud deployment, an off-site backup server is used. This means the backup solution is deployed off-site, for example, in a data center.

When using an off-site backup server, a backup agent is installed on each machine that needs to be backed up — or selected devices, in the case of agentless VM backup; with a local server, sometimes no agents are required.

Note: Cloud storage space is often sold separately from the backup solution license. This design gives clients more choice over where their data is stored.

Top advantages associated with off-site versus on-site backup server deployment

  • Orchestrate data recovery after a site-wide disaster. Your local backup infrastructure (including the local backup server) gets destroyed when a disaster hits an entire site. This outage is critical to realize because it significantly increases recovery times. If you're using a remote backup server, your infrastructure stays safe.
  • Gain easier, more cost-effective protection of multiple, geographically diffuse sites. This means that you can deploy a single off-site backup server to orchestrate data protection everywhere rather than deploying a backup server in each office.
  • Improve how well you protect your mobile workforce. For network performance (and therefore shorter backup and recovery times), it makes sense to deploy a remote backup server so employees working elsewhere receive the same level of protection as those working in the office.
  • Benefit from financial and technical (i.e., networking) advantages that come with hosting your backup server with a colocation or a data center provider rather than on-site. Sometimes the business doesn't have the required IT infrastructure or network resources in the local office, or it's simply more cost-effective to outsource hosting these needs to a data center provider.

Exploring options to deploy a remote backup server

There are several ways organizations can access a cloud backup solution, no matter how small or if done so with the help of an MSP. Consider these different use cases and their advantages:

1. Physical server in colocation. A colocation center is a type of data center. Businesses that use a colocation achieve the highest control over their data. Companies that leverage the support of a center gain access to equipment, space, and infrastructure — or a host site for your remote backup server and other essential elements to run your offsite backup system seamlessly. The economics are also friendly; you save on operational expenses (OPEX) while achieving higher capital expenses (CAPEX).

Small- to medium-sized businesses may consider using this approach. They simply need to buy backup software such as Acronis Cyber Protect (formerly Acronis Cyber Backup), which offers flexibility regarding where to deploy the software — locally or off-site — and deploy it accordingly.

2. Virtual machine in a public cloud. A public cloud offers data storage, applications, and other services via the internet. Public (and private) clouds run on virtual machines, which simulate a computer's operating system off-site.

Businesses that wish to leverage the power of a public cloud provider typically turn to one of the 'big three': Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure. These providers host the remote backup server itself (plus offer the infrastructure needed to run cloud backups in a disaster recovery scenario). Certain backup solutions like Acronis Cyber Protect (formerly Acronis Cyber Backup) are flexible enough to be deployed in these public clouds. In turn, businesses can get started quickly and scale without thinking twice.

3. Backup as a service (BaaS). With BaaS solutions, small- to medium-sized businesses can run their own remote backup solution so long as they have one IT person in house to manage it. After purchasing the BaaS solution (e.g., Acronis Cyber Protect (formerly Acronis Cyber Backup) as a Service), you're all set — it's already deployed in the vendor-managed cloud. Better still, the vendor knows the product inside and out, making it easy for users to get started and a snap to maintain.

4. Managed backup as a service (BaaS) by an MSP. Maybe you're an MSP looking for a BaaS solution. Or, if you're a larger organization with numerous IT needs, you may already be working with a managed service provider or considering it. Solutions like Acronis Advanced Backup are purpose-built for MSPs, ensuring they have the tools to deliver easy, efficient and secure cyber protection that meets today's business requirements.

For many organizations, the advantages of working with an MSP are simply a wise business practice. You don't require any internal IT staff. Plus, an MSP isn't just a software reseller — they are a trusted advisor that knows all of your IT needs and can help you make the right decisions for your business. They often specialize by industry, too, helping to ensure your business complies with regulations, which is particularly important when choosing a backup solution.

Bottom line

No matter your use case or if you're a service provider handling various use cases, Acronis has an effective backup solution for any deployment need, giving you the practical advantages (and peace of mind) needed to keep data safe.

Acronis Cyber Protect (formerly Acronis Cyber Backup) as a Service offers an easy-to-manage, reliable, infrastructure-free cloud solution with a vendor-maintained remote backup server, so you remove all implementation and maintenance hassles.

If you're a service provider, Acronis Cyber Backup Cloud is just for you. On top of the robust cloud-based backup solution capabilities, it offers numerous features for MSPs, like white-labeling, a multiclient management portal, integration with RMM and PSA tools, and much more.

About Acronis

Acronis is a Swiss company, founded in Singapore. Celebrating two decades of innovation, Acronis has more than 1,800 employees in 45 locations. The Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud solution is available in 26 languages in over 150 countries and is used by 20,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.