Managed backup Services

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Managed backup Services

A remote, online, or managed backup service, sometimes advertised as cloud backup, is a service that provides users with a system for the backup, storage, and recovery of computer files. Online backup providers are companies that provide this type of service to end users. Such backup services are considered a form of cloud computing.

Online backup systems are typically built around a client software program that runs on a program, typically once a day while computers aren't in use. This program typically collects, compresses, encrypts, and transfers the data to the remote backup service provider's servers.

Characteristics:
  • Service-Based
  • Ubiquitous Access
  • Scalable and Elastic
  • Metered by Use
  • Shared and Secure
  • Enterprise-class Cloud Backup
Typical Features:
  • Encryption
  • Network backup
  • Continuous backup Continuous Data Protection
  • File-by-File Restore
  • Online access to files
  • Data compression
  • Differential data compression
  • Bandwidth usage
  • Off-Line Backup
  • Synchronization
Common Features for Business Users:
  • Bulk restore
  • Centralized management console
  • File retention policies
  • Fully managed services
  • Redundancy
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Seed loading
  • Server backup
  • Versioning
Cost Factors:

Online backup services are usually priced as a function of the following things:

  • The total amount of data being backed up
  • The number of machines covered by the backup service
  • The maximum number of versions of each file that are kept
  • Data retention and archiving period options
  • Managed backups vs. unmanaged backups
  • The level of service and features available

Some vendors limit the number of versions of a file that can be kept in the system. Some services omit this restriction and provide an unlimited number of versions. Add-on features (plug-ins), like the ability to back up currently open or locked files, are usually charged as an extra, but some services provide this built in.

Most remote backup services reduce the amount of data to be sent over the wire by only backing up changed files. This approach to backing up means that the customers total stored data is reduced. Reducing the amount of data sent and also stored can be further drastically reduced by only transmitting the changed data bits by binary or block level incremental backups. Solutions that transmit only these changed binary data bits do not waste bandwidth by transmitting the same file data over and over again if only small amounts change.

Advantages:

Remote backup has advantages over traditional backup methods:

  • Perhaps the most important aspect of backing up is that backups are stored in a different location from the original data. Traditional backup requires manually taking the backup media offsite.
  • Remote backup does not require user intervention. The user does not have to change tapes, label CDs or perform other manual steps.
  • Unlimited data retention (presuming the backup provider stays in business).
  • Backups are automatic.
  • Some remote backup services will work continuously, backing up files as they are changed.
  • Most remote backup services will maintain a list of versions of your files.
  • Most remote backup services will use a 128 - 448 bit encryption to send data over unsecured links (i.e. internet)
  • A few remote backup services can reduce backup by only transmitting changed binary data bits
Disadvantages:

Remote backup has some disadvantages over traditional backup methods:

  • Depending on the available network bandwidth, the restoration of data can be slow. Because data is stored offsite, the data must be recovered either via the Internet or via a disk shipped from the online backup service provider.
  • Some backup service providers have no guarantee that stored data will be kept private - for example, from employees. As such, most recommend that files be encrypted.
  • It is possible that a remote backup service provider could go out of business or be purchased, which may affect the accessibility of one's data or the cost to continue using the service.
  • If the encryption password is lost, data recovery will be impossible. However with managed services this should not be a problem.
  • Residential broadband services often have monthly limits that preclude large backups. They are also usually asymmetric; the user-to-network link regularly used to store backups is much slower than the network-to-user link used only when data is restored.
  • In terms of price, when looking at the raw cost of hard disks, remote backups cost about 1-20 times per GB what a local backup would.