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The Importance of Off-Site Backup

We all know the important concept of having local or onsite backup. Files get deleted accidentally, or hardware in a workstation or server fails, and precious data critical to businesses gets damaged or vanishes along with such mishaps. The ability is restore lost data from nearby media such as a backup hard drive is a potent one which saves businesses time and time again.

However, there is a critical vulnerability in relying solely on onsite backup – it runs under the presumption that the local area is safe from harm. What happens to your data in the event of a local disaster, be it man-made (war, terrorism, sabotage) or natural (earthquakes, fire, tornados, etc.)?

This is where off-site backup becomes an important consideration, the goal of which is placing some or all of your backup data elsewhere out of harm’s way.

The ideal off-site backup solution should have the following characteristics:

  • It must be physically secure. Access should be guarded under lock and key, with a security guard verifying and controlling access to trusted technicians.
  • It must have sufficient distance away from the original site. Having the offsite backup in another room down the hall will do you no good if a fire destroys the whole building. Consider having the off-site backup stored in another building, in another part of town, state, or even another country.
  • It must be in a naturally safe zone. A site survey should determine nearby risks (near a faultline? Tornado or earthquake zone? etc…) and while considering the offsite backup placement, these areas should be avoided.
  • It must be verifiable and accessible. Periodic testing of backup restores is needed, to ensure that the system works and your backup data is preserved and can be reached quickly to recover when something happens to your main backup location.

Offsite backup can be as simple as backing up data to an external hard drive and placing in a safe deposit box in some bank in another part of town, or can be as sophisticated as streaming backup data over a secure tunnel within the internet to a bank of servers in some underground bunker on the other side of the country.

We live in unpredictable times. We read in the papers and on the net about some disaster striking someplace in the world everyday, and tend to think “this cannot happen here”… but it might. Having both an onsite and an off-site backup solution in place will help ensure the survivability of your data when the unthinkable happens!