Storing and maintaining the integrity of data is at the heart of any business from small sole trader to large multinational company.
Vital company data including customer and client contact details, stock and sale records, finances, email communications, company documents and other data must be kept safe and secure to ensure the ongoing successful operation of the business.
Over 70% of businesses use some form of cloud computing and recognize that backing up their important data to the cloud is the most cost effective (54% cite cost saving as their primary reason for adopting cloud services), convenient and safest way of storing this information.
If your business has not yet made the move to the cloud, but is considering doing so, it can be confusing trying to choose one provider from the myriad of cloud backup options available.
The following is a simple step-by-step checklist to help you compare different cloud solutions and choose the best cloud backup provider for your business.
1. Security and Privacy
Security is probably the most important aspect to consider when choosing a cloud backup as a service and over 60% of businesses say they are concerned about security when it comes to fully embracing cloud services.
While storing data in the traditional way on-site on physical media is not 100% secure by any means either (data can be destroyed or lost by fire, flood, hardware failure of theft); data stored in the cloud can be accessed from any location by anyone with the correct credentials, so it’s vital that the system is secure.
Not all cloud backup providers offer the same level of data protection. Ask any providers you are considering if they provide the following security measures so you can be confident that your data is secure:
A traditional password login has only one step – once you enter the correct password, you can access the data. While this system is secure as long as no unauthorized persons have access to the password, it is very possible for passwords to be cracked or discovered through phishing or other means.
2-step verification provides an extra level of security by requiring a second “one-time-password” that is generated at each login attempt so it is different every time.
Ability to Disable Login
If you know or suspect that your account login details have been compromised, the quickest way to secure your account is by disabling the login. This is the equivalent of calling your credit company to block your card once you realized your card has been lost or stolen
Some cloud backup providers such as Spinbackup have a security feature that allows you to block login via Google ID if you think your Google account may have been compromised. You can still use an alternative login to access your account.
All data stored in the cloud must be encrypted in order to protect the data during transfer, when it may be vulnerable to attack.
There are various encryption algorithms that can be used to secure data and not all cloud providers use the same algorithm. Some providers may also use a combination of several algorithms.
If a cloud backup company is confident about its encryption methods, it will be transparent about the algorithms it uses and the different points at which data is encrypted. Take some time to study this information and talk to the provider directly if you have any questions about their encryption process.
2. Integration with SaaS Applications
Not all cloud backup services will be suitable for your business and the way you work. One of the main considerations is which SaaS applications you use within your business and how compatible the backup service is with these applications.
For example, if your company regularly uses G Suite or Google Apps for business, you’ll need to find a backup service that integrates with Google Apps, such as Spinbackup. If you use different services such as Microsoft Office 365, look for a cloud backup service that integrates seamlessly with these services.
3. Frequency and Automation of Backups
When you’re busy running your business, the last thing you want to be worrying about is backing up your files. This is one of the reasons why cloud backup is so convenient, as it removes the hassle of scheduling and organizing backups and runs seamlessly in the background so you don’t need to ever worry about forgetting to run a backup.
While many services let you run a backup at the click of a button, not all provide this as an automated service, so make sure that this option is offered for your convenience and data security.
Traditional tape backups are costly and time consuming so would normally only be run once a week. In the event that disaster recovery was needed, up to a whole week’s worth of data could be lost without backup.
Spinbackup offers automated daily backup of all your files so you know your data is always safe and secure. You can also choose to run a manual backup of all or individual files or accounts at any time.
Autobackup can be turned on or off and customized for individual use. For example you can choose to activate autobackup only for certain users or apps. The time and date of the last backup and the next backup are visible at a glance from inside the control panel.
4. Service Level Agreement and Downtime
Neither hardware nor software is infallible and even the biggest names in computing (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc.) have had episodes of downtime over the years.
However, these periods when you are unable to access your data should be kept to an absolute minimum. It is normal for hardware to be taken offline for maintenance from time to time but there should be a solution in place so that downtime is not a regularly scheduled occurrence.
Reputable cloud service providers will publish their service level agreement as a percentage of promised uptime.
Spinbackup guarantees 99.9% SLA and 99.9% backup success rate.
5. Data Deletion Policy
The main failure with cloud backup systems is not security leaks or software error, but rather user error. In fact, over 40% of data loss in SaaS is caused by accidental deletion.
While your data may be safely backed up, if you or an employee with access chooses to delete the data (or deletes it by accident), many systems will dutifully follow the instruction to delete the data and may or may not have systems in place to recover this deleted data.
Look for a data deletion policy that prevents against accidentally deleted data by preventing users from deleting any backed up data. Ideally, data should only be deleted from the servers after account cancellation.
6. Disaster Recovery Procedure
In the event of data loss or corruption, it is vital to make sure that your data can be recovered as quickly and easily as possible.
Any time you do not have access to vital company data, it is impossible to run your business as usual and this can cost many thousands of dollars if systems are down for hours or even days.
Investigate the disaster recovery procedure for the backup solutions you are considering, including how easy it is to recover data and how long the process takes. Look for “one-click” recovery solutions, which provide the easiest and fastest way to restore your data to the last backup point.
While it is almost always worth paying more for a better service, there are many affordable cloud backup options available.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that more expensive means better, especially if you are paying for services that your company will not use or paying to store large amounts of data, when you only need a small percentage of this allowance.
Some backup options offer unlimited storage, while others charge per gigabyte of storage. It’s worth looking into your data storage needs both now and in the future so you can choose a cost-effective longterm backup solution.
8. Track Record and Reputability of Provider
As the number of businesses and individuals using cloud services continues to grow, new cloud backup companies are springing up all the time to meet this growing demand.
New startups can sometimes offer attractive features and prices but choosing an established company with a good track record ensures that your data is safe and there is less chance of the company going out of business.
9. Customer Service and Support
As well as the reliability and uptime of the service, it is equally important to make sure that there is a real person to communicate with if you have any technical problems or questions.
Take some time to research the customer support options available – can they be contacted by email, telephone or online chat? How quickly do they aim to respond to your query or issue? Is support available 24/7 or only during office hours?
Look for a provider that can grow with your business and allow you to upgrade to an enterprise-level solution at a later date if you sign up as a small business now.
If the provider you are considering limits the number of user accounts or data, even for its top-level services, or charges significantly more for storing larger amounts of data, it may become unsuitable or not cost-effective for your business when it grows larger.
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