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Questions You Must Ask Before Choosing Any Data Backup and Recovery Service?

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Choosing a service to manage your data backups and recovery of those backups during emergency situations is one of the best insurance policies you can buy for your business. While it’s not “insurance” per se, it is a safety net there to catch you, and your livelihood in the case of a localized disaster that destroys, or temporarily screws up, your network resulting in data loss. Having a good backup and recovery system in place means when things go wrong, that wrong is only a temporary situation, and your business will be back up and functional in a matter of minutes or hours, versus losing everything and being down for days or weeks on top of the lost data.

Those who sell data backup and recovery services have a favorite saying, “It’s not a matter of if you equipment will fail, it’s a matter of when.” While that sounds like a classic marketing line, the reality of the situation is all equipment does eventually fail, and no small business can afford having that failure happen without a safety net in place.

Navigating the sea of hyperbole and marketing speak surrounding data backup and recovery can be daunting task for someone who hasn’t made a living working with it, which is why we’ve put together this list of questions you should ask of any provider you are thinking of hiring.

 

Is the data center storing the information at least a Tier 3 data center?

I know what you’re thinking, “Tier 3, what does that mean?” Well, that’s the entire point to this post, filling you in on valuable information like this.

Data centers, big buildings/rooms full of servers, are classified into four tiers, and the classification of a data center is a strong indication of just how safe your data will be when it is stored there. A consortium called The Uptime Institute, developed a standardized set of tiers to reflect how resilient a data center is during crises. There are four tiers, and the fourth is reserved for the most protected of the group.

  • * Tier 1: composed of a single path for power and cooling distribution, without redundant components, providing 99.671% availability.
  • * Tier II: composed of a single path for power and cooling distribution, with redundant components, providing 99.741% availability
  • * Tier III: composed of multiple active power and cooling distribution paths, but only one path active, has redundant components, and is concurrently maintainable, providing 99.982% availability
  • * Tier IV: composed of multiple active power and cooling distribution paths, has redundant components, and is fault tolerant, providing 99.995% availability.

Taken from Webopedia

While we recommend that whichever service you choose uses at least a Tier 3 data center, it is even better if your provider uses multiple Tier 3 data centers for the purposes of redundancy, which is what we use for CloudVault Data Backup and Recovery. Which brings us to…

 

What kind of redundancy policies does the data backup and recovery provider offer?

Welcome to the Department of Redundancy Department, where nothing is done until it’s done at least twice. While this sounds like a trip into bureaucratic hell in most situations, when it comes to data centers and data storage for backup purposes, redundancy can be a lifesaver.

When shopping for a data backup and recovery provider, you’ll often find them describing themselves as “2N+ Redundancy,” or “N+1 Redundancy,” when describing their infrastructure and security. The key factor here is understanding what N represents in the equation. In this case, N is all of the components and functions needed to make the data center work.

Datacenters.com has one of the better explanations of it I’ve encountered:

What’s the Difference Between N+1, 2N and 2N+1?

The simple way to look at N+1 is to think of it in terms of throwing a birthday party for your child or yourself, because who doesn’t love cupcakes?.  Say you have ten guests and need ten cupcakes, but just in case you have that  “unexpected” guest show up, you order eleven cupcakes.  “N” represents the exact amount of cupcakes you need, and the extra cupcake represents the +1.  Therefore you have N+1 cupcakes for the party.  In the world of datacenters, an N+1system, also called parallel redundancy, and is a safeguard to ensure that an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system is always available. N+1 stands for the number of UPS modules that are required to handle an adequate supply of power for essential connected systems, plus one more, so 11 cupcakes for 10 people, and less chance of downtime.

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So how safe is your backed up data when it’s stored off-site through a data backup and recovery service like Cloudpoint Technology’s CloudVault?

The answer to that depends on who stores your data, how they do it, and where they do it, which means we can’t answer this question for every service, but we can answer it in relation to how secure the data we protect is. What we do, which goes beyond minimal standards, might not be the same as what another company offering the service might do it, so please, do yourself a favor and investigate the fine print of any service you are considering.

Security specialists at our data center are continually updating our security measures the latest tools to guard against hackers and other unwanted visitors. There are also numerous in-house security measures in place to make sure unauthorized people do not have physical access to our data center as well.

  • * Multiple levels of physical security including biometrics, prox card with PIN, locked cabinets and cages, and video surveillance
  • * Surveillance cameras at all entrances and exits and at every access point throughout the buildings
  • * Surveillance footage digitally recorded and stored offsite
  • * Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems offer recirculation capabilities to protect from biological or chemical attack or heavy smoke due to adjacent fire
  • * Air quality is continuously monitored for chemical, biological or radiological contamination
  • * Building access is tightly controlled with two-factor authentication, physical sign-in, and all facilities are staffed 24x7x365
  • * 24×7 Network Operations Center (NOC) to continually monitor data center security, environmental conditions, and technical infrastructure

 

How is my backup data protected against natural disasters and power outages?

In the case of CloudVault, this goes back to the previous question regarding redundancy. When you upload information to your own cloud via CloudVault, it is duplicated to a second data center in another part of the country, which reduces the risk of it being affected by a localized storm, or other natural disaster. Even when things aren’t so safe in your neck of the woods, your data will be, because it’s somewhere far, far away.

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Is my data stored somewhere hacker proof?

Hackers are the modern day super criminals. Nearly everything we do gets recorded in a computer system somewhere, and every bit of our personal information is stored out there somewhere on multiple servers, just waiting to be snatched by a cyber criminal. A skilled hacker can make a fortune selling that information to others, or they can even use that information for personal gains. This fact makes them a tenacious bunch.

The truth of the matter is nothing is really, and truly, hacker proof (just check out this story about the time Russian hackers hacked into White House Computers). Those are just the facts. The best one can do to prevent it is to stay up-to-date with the latest hack-resistant techniques. We have specialists whose job is to focus on doing just that.

If you really want to get into it, our data backup and recovery plan is built around OpenStack, the open-source, cloud-computing software platform, which features a security plan designed by a collective of security experts. The most recent updates were made earlier this month.

 

So how long would I be out of commission if a crash wipes out the network on a Tuesday afternoon?

The one remaining issue with cloud-based backup and recovery is the limitations presented by a business’s Internet connection speeds. The download speed at location A, can often vary greatly from the download speed at location B. The more data backed up in the cloud, the longer it is going to take to get a network restored to its pre-crash state. That said, it is a rare situation where an entire network needs resuscitated from a completely blank slate, so in that regard, the question of how long a restore would take is a difficult one to answer.

If such a situation would occur, however, we can revive most network systems in a matter of 24-48 hours, and the only reason it might take that long is that it takes a while to download 50 GB, 100 GB, or even more, from the net.

We encourage our clients to also keep some form of local backup running at all times to facilitate faster restores when necessary. Their data is automatically backed up to the more secure cloud location, should a major tragedy arise, but a local source is kept going to at least get a crashed network up and running within a matter of hours.

So in most cases, CloudVault customers will be up and running in a matter of hours, but might not be fully restored until all of the remotely stored data not kept locally is reintroduced.

How complicated is managing my data?

It helps to know whether you need a computer science degree to understand how to engage your data backup and recovery solution, because some options are far more complicated to manage than others. CloudVault incorporates a common, browser-based control panel, accessible by the customer whenever they choose. This allows for easy backing up to a point an hour, or even 5 hours, before the present time to undo a recently committed snafu. The virtual routers, firewalls, and VPNs are all managed through the browser interface. This isn’t to say CloudVault customers are on their own with their backup plan. We offer live support and management along the way as well.

 

Are you ready to make the leap to a cloud-based data backup and recovery solution? If you aren’t sure, we will help you assess your current situation, and whether cloud-based data backup and recovery meets your needs, for free. Find out how this no-risk, no-hassle offer works here on our website.

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