Exploring Backup Strategies in the Enterprise
Data backup is an insurance plan, and every enterprise company should consider how to recover from a disaster involving
very critical and important data. Without one, they're left with nothing to fall back on. Luckily, there are several
options regarding how and where they can store their data safely and securely. Especially for a large business, it is
important to know what options are available when deciding on a backup plan, so check out the pros and cons of these 4 backup
methods in regards to the following criteria:
Privacy and Security - Who gets involved with your data? Are there any privacy concerns?
Recovery Time - Time is an important factor in any enterprise. For critical systems, you may need to get back online
Accessibility - How accessible is the data? Anytime, any device, anywhere?
Offsite Storage - Is backed up data stored at a different location?
Cost - What sort of equipment is required? Identify any initial/ongoing costs.
Downsides - Some possible disadvantages to this technology.
1. Tape Drive
The Tape Drive is the oldest and most common technology used for data storage, which uses magnetic tape cartridges to
Privacy and Security - One of the things that makes this type of backup an appealing choice is the fact that it is
typically based on-site within the enterprise. Privacy and security definitely score high with a Tape Drive Backup. It
really just comes down to who will be responsible for the data. Ideally, someone should be a primary contact for the
organization's backup and recovery plan. This person may also be responsible for performing the actual backup and
recovery of data.
Recovery Time - Newer models of tape drives have very large capacity. However, one of the downsides to this
technology is the amount of time it may take to recover data. Tape drives store data in a linear fashion. Let's assume
that the tape drive saved 26 letters of the English alphabet (A to Z), but there was a need to restore only the letters E,
J, and P. One possible solution is to move to the location of letter E, then restore everything up to letter P (which
includes letter J). The recovered data would include 10 extra letters that are not needed.
Accessibility - Although tapes are physically located on site, accessibility is very limited. There is no way to
view a backed up file from a mobile device. The concept of anytime, any device and anywhere does not apply in case of tape
Offsite Storage - It is possible to store the backed up data at an offsite location, however it would require a good
amount of manual work. The person who is assigned the task of managing this backup would have to manually transfer data to
the tape drive every day. Also, if this person is unable to backup data (perhaps he is sick, on vacation, or forgetful), it
may cause some problems as there would be gaps in the data.
Cost - Tape drives typically require SCSI-USB converter in order for an Operating System to access the data stored
on the device. Sometimes additional software is required in order for an OS to recognize the tape as a native drive. So the
initial cost for this backup includes the tape drive itself, along with a possible need for converter(s) and software(s)
for compatibility. The only ongoing cost would be maintenance of the magnetic strips, which may eventually wear out over an
extended period of time.
The Downside - Recovering data requires too much time; limited remote and mobile access; external converter needed
to access data; requires human interaction, which may result in data gaps.
2. External USB Drive
The External USB (Universal Serial Bus) drive began to make its presence in the backup market in the early 2000's.
Since then, data storage for these devices have evolved from as little as 128MB to 2TB storage, quite a technological jump
spanning only roughly a decade.
Privacy and Security - Like the tape drive, the External USB is a device that is kept on-site within the enterprise,
and it is typically held responsible by trusted members of the company. External USB's basically have all of the perks
regarding privacy and security as tape drives. The differences come into play when considering recovery time and
Recovery Time - Unlike the tape drive, data is not stored linearly or sequentially. Let's consider the backup
containing the 26 letters of the English alphabet (as mentioned above). The need for letters E, J, and P can quickly be
recovered simply by selecting those specific characters from the device. There is no need to restore 10 unnecessary
Accessibility - USB drives can come in different storage formats, depending on the OS that it is interacting with,
and they are typically quick to use and highly portable. The devices themselves do not allow for mobile access, so the
concept of anytime, any device, anyWhere does not apply to USB Drives.
Offsite Storage - Similar to the tape drive, the USB drive requires a good amount of manual work in order to bring
the backup to an offsite location for safe storage. The same risks apply when it comes to the availability of the
individual who is in charge of managing USB drive backup.
Cost - Depending on the storage size of the device, USB drives can cost anywhere from a few bucks to hundreds of
dollars. Older computers were once manufactured with floppy disk drives, which basically had the same functionality as the
USB drive, but they were unable to contain nearly as much data, and their transfer speeds failed in comparison. More
recently, computers have become completely compatible with USB drives via built-in USB ports for easy access to these
external drives (among other purposes), so there is usually no need for extra converters. The initial cost for this type of
backup include the USB drive itself, and there is typically no ongoing cost aside from physical maintenance of the
The Downside - Limited remote and mobile access; OS compatibility (depends on device format); every machine that
needs to be backed up will need a USB port.
3. Public Cloud
A public cloud is a form of "cloud-computing" in which data is stored off-site and is typically handled by a
service provider that makes its resources (such as, storage servers) available to the general public over the Internet.
using their services, an enterprise business may feel a bit uneasy with having a "middle-man" between their
important (and most-likely confidential) data and their storage location. Perhaps it is not the in-flight process of
transferring data that may cause one to worry, but rather the actual destination where the data is stored. As with tape
drives and USB drives, the question remains: who will be responsible for the data? In this case, responsibility falls
primarily on the service provider, but an enterprise has very limited control over any unintentional data leaks that can
occur at the off-site location.
Recovery Time - There are a couple ways to recover data from an offsite location. One way is to download the
required data over the internet, which may take quite some time especially if the dataset is large. Another method, which
depends on whether or not the service provider offers such a feature, is to burn the data onto a disk or external drive,
and then physically ship the disk/device to the enterprise. This method not only takes time to burn the data, but must also
consider the shipping speed, which may take several days.
Accessibility - Unlike tape drives and USB drives, OS compatibility is usually not an issue as there is no need for
USB converters or USB ports on the physical machine in order to view the backed up data. Access to the internet is the only
requirement for this type of backup. The concept of anyTime, any device, anywhere is absolutely relevant for public cloud
backups. Depending on what the service provider offers, data can be accessed via internet browsers, mobile devices, and
various software applications. Also, data is typically transferred securely via supportive technologies such as SSL (Secure
Socket Layer) and AES-encryption.
Offsite Storage - All backed up data is stored on the service provider's storage servers, and there is no need
to rely on the availability of an individual (as with tape drive and USB drive backups). This is beneficial for an
enterprise that is looking to save on local virtual storage space, or for one that is limited to such resources. Data is
transferred via an internet connection.
Cost - Depending on the service provider, the cost per month can vary both in price as well as in available feature
sets. Some might charge a flat monthly fee, others may charge depending on how much disk space the enterprise requires on
the service provider's storage servers. This all depends on the particular business model that the service provider is
looking to market. Additionally, when it comes to a public cloud backup plan, an enterprise must consider the type of
support that is available from the service provider, as well as the feature-set that their backed up data needs (such as,
encryption, file versions, reporting, etc). For most public cloud backup solutions, the initial cost also becomes the
ongoing cost in the form of recurring fees.
The Downside - Possible data leaks at offsite location; monthly/annual subscription fees; data usage fees; possible
4. Private Cloud
A private cloud is the phrase used to describe a form of cloud-computing that is implemented on-site within the
Enterprise, typically under the control of the IT department. A private cloud is designed to offer the same features and
benefits of public cloud systems, but removes a number of objections to the cloud computing model, including control over
enterprise and customer data, worries about security, and issues connected to regulatory compliance.
entirely within the enterprise (as is the data being backed up). Any risk of data leaks is controlled by the enterprise
itself, and there is no "middle-man" company that stands between the enterprise and their data. Much like tape
drives and USB drives, responsibility for the backed up data is kept indoors, perhaps with the IT Department.
Recovery Time - Typically, the storage server (or data center) where backed up data is saved is located within the
network of the Enterprise. So the transfer speeds for backing up and/or recovering data is usually fast and reliable since
no information is actually sent out into the internet. If, however, the data center is outside of the network, then
transfer speeds may vary depending on the network connection. In any case, the enterprise has full control of how data is
recovered, whether they prefer network downloads or burning data onto a disk/device.
Accessibility - Similar to public cloud backups, the concept of anyTime, any device, anywhere applies to private
cloud backups as well. Data is readily accessible via an internet browser, software application, or mobile device via a
network or internet connection.
Offsite Storage - Data is generally stored within the enterprise, however, the option to keep the storage location
offsite is also available. In either case, it is the responsibility of the enterprise to provide enough storage space that
is sufficient to hold all backed up data.
Cost - Since this type of backup service is not administered by an offsite service provider, it does not require any
ongoing monthly or annual expenses. In fact, it can be considered more of a product than a service, and the enterprise has
full control over the product after it has been purchased. The initial cost for this type of backup includes the software
and the storage device(s). The only ongoing cost would be the maintenance of the storage device(s).
The Downside - The enterprise is responsible for the size of the storage device(s).
At some level, data can be considered the core of an enterprise, and it should absolutely be of high priority to keep it
safely & securely protected from all types of disasters. So in conclusion, the Private Cloud Backup turns out to be the
ideal solution to keep data safe & secure for an enterprise. With little cost and maintenance, not only does it have all
of the benefits of a public cloud backup with regards to data recovery and accessibilty, but it also boasts the benefits of
Tape drive and USB drive backups when it comes to privacy and security.
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