As an MSP, it’s crucial to be aware of the different types of backup solutions and how they compare. As you’ll be aware, most data backup solutions currently focus on cloud-based backups.

Nevertheless, there are significant pros and cons to each.

This article will briefly examine and compare:

  • On-site backup solutions
  • Off-site backup solutions
  • Cloud backup solutions
  • Hybrid backup solutions

Pros and cons of on-site backups

On-site backups are when the data remains on the premises, usually in the computers’ hard drives or in a local server.

Keeping data on-site might serve to inspire customer confidence. It also has the unique advantage of relying almost entirely on physical rather than cybersecurity (depending on the system and network).

The traditional method of storing information on a computer, on-site backup solutions are now being partially phased out (although they’re certainly still relevant). The main reason for this relates to Disaster Recovery.

On-site data backups are especially vulnerable to catastrophic events like floods, fires or the physical theft of a computer or hard drive. Should one of these happen, the entire business has essentially been lost. There is often no way to recover any data, and so an SME will have to either close or start again from scratch.

Another disadvantage of working with on-site backups as an MSP is that you often need to be at every location physically if the system has no remote access options. This confines your potential market to a specific geographic area.

Pros and cons of off-site hardware backups

Off-site backups again focus on data stored on a physical device such as a removable hard drive or flash drive, this time away from the office premises. The term ‘off-site backups’ is also used for cloud backup solutions (see below).

The main advantage of an off-site backup is that the data is kept away from the workplace. In essence, this fulfils a data backup’s purpose, as the information is kept safe in the case of a disaster.

However, there are also considerable disadvantages.

For example, someone must remember to carry the data off-site every time they leave. It must also be manually backed up every time and, depending on the system, this could take a while.

In terms of security, a small hard drive or USB stick is perhaps the easiest data-related target for a would-be thief. Since someone is always carrying it to and from the place of work, it increases the chances of both losing it and a criminal picking it up. Once the physical data has been lost, there’s no way to get it back or protect it from prying eyes.

This constant ferrying also dramatically increases the likelihood of the device being damaged, rendering the data unreadable.

Pros and cons of cloud backups

Many companies around the world now use cloud backups. A cloud backup solution is also located off-site but, of course, often far, far away. Cloud backup solutions use a secure, encrypted internet connection to upload data to a secure server. It’s then held and stored in a data bank.

Cloud backups keep the information secure – more secure than most on-site or off-site services. Backups can be flexibly scheduled to occur regularly, or even every time a single bit of data is modified. These backups now often occur silently as a background process, so there’s no need to interrupt the working day.

Instead of reuploading a whole system, cloud backups find and replace any data that’s changed since the last backup. This means a much lower bandwidth usage than differential backups, for example.

Finally, cloud data backups are accessible at any time, provided the SME has an internet connection. This reduces downtime and means they can get back up and running as soon as possible.

There are also a few disadvantages. You should always ensure that the data backup company you’re working with has adequate security protocols and clearly defines how it operates to avoid disappointment. If the SME has a shaky internet connection, data uploads or recovery could also take longer than an on-site or off-site backup.

Pros and cons of hybrid backups

Hybrid backups are when a company has two or more backup systems. Today, at least one of these is generally a cloud backup.

Hybrid cloud/local backups

A hybrid system usually works by setting up a local drive on the office’s computers. When a file is saved or edited, it’s uploaded to this drive. In the background, the local drive then synchronises with the cloud backup system.

It’s also often easier to restore data from a cloud/on-site hybrid backup solution than a cloud-based system.

Unfortunately, although they are the most efficient and secure, hybrid systems cost a lot to set up. This is likely to put many SMEs off, at least at first. As a business grows, it would be recommended to migrate over to a hybrid system.

Hybrid public/private/shared cloud backups

Other hybrid systems work by backing the data up onto different types of cloud storage – either public, private or shared. A cloud hybrid system can select which cloud types to use for specific data storage. Often, an SME would choose to store most of its data on a private cloud and certain files on a public cloud to minimise costs and increase efficiency.

The main advantage of hybrid backup systems is the extra layer of insurance. Even if one of the backups fails, there’s another one – in a different location – to fall back on. The odds of every backup suffering a disastrous event at the same time are incredibly low.

Like the hybrid cloud/local solution, hybrid cloud systems cost a lot to install.

It’s also important that the two cloud environments work well together. For example, if one is slower than the other, it could cause significant problems when there’s a large amount of data being stored.

On-site vs off-site vs cloud vs hybrid backup solutions

While physical on-site and off-site backups are still generally effective, they are somewhat primitive and prone to many risks in today’s advanced technological world.

Overall, we recommend working with a hybrid system. If these costs are too high for SMEs to start with, a cloud-based solution is the next best thing.

For assistance with getting your software set up as an MSP, or for any further information, you’re welcome to get in touch with us here at BCDR Solutions.