I'm looking into an online backup strategy. I can see a few helpful questions on providers.

I'm looking for general pointers of things to bear in mind when making an online backup strategy.

3 Answers 3


Here's a few pointers that I'd be looking for:

  • Transit costs (transferring data to the backup provider)
  • How cost effective is the service given the size of the backup (100GB will cost a fortune, 10GB not so much)
  • How will the data be stored by the backup provider
  • Will the data remain within this country (be that US, EU, etc..)
  • How will I access the service? Can I use rsync or do i have to use a custom client?
  • How will the data be encrypted?
  • For any given provider, what happens if they go out of business?
  • Related to the above, What is their history like, how stable are they, etc.
  • What is their network infrastructure like?
  • Are they compliant to PCIDSS, SOX, ISO9001 or whatever accreditations mean anything to you.
  • Good list. I would just add: if at all possible, don't let your online backup regimen be a single point of failure (have an overall back strategy that includes local and/or regional backup too). Dec 8, 2009 at 21:39
  • Don't forget about your retention policy in the coste effectiveness of the solution. Just as an example, we have a 7 year policy in month one the price was very reasonable (2 0's at the end) in month 84 ... not so much (5 0's at the end ) ... needless to say we laughed them out of the meeting when they told us the firgure
    – Zypher
    Dec 8, 2009 at 23:36

The one thing that everyone seems to forget about is restoration after a disaster. If you've got a small quantity of data, there's no real problem, because you just copy it back over the network. However, if you've got a growing data set that could ever get pretty large, the amount of time (and possibly traffic costs) required to copy all of that data back onto your live setup to restore operation is likely to be prohibitive.

Remember that you can't generally start copying all your data back until your storage infrastructure is in place, so you can't easily parallelise the data copying and hardware setup. It's a big problem that not enough people think about.

  • 1
    I'd +27 this if I could; you NEED local backup at least once a month to complement ANY online backup solution for this very reason. Dec 8, 2009 at 15:12
  • Whilst I agree you need local backups, I don't think that monthly is a good guide (I'm more of an "hourly" man when it comes to local backups, myself). In any situation where I need my offsite backup, all of my local setup is gone (smoking crater style), so any and all local backups are toast anyway (so a monthly isn't going to reduce the amount of data I need to copy back on-site). What is needed is a known plan to get all the backed up data back on site and ready to rumble by the time the hardware is back up and running. I like shipping halves of mirrored RAID sets, myself.
    – womble
    Dec 8, 2009 at 20:16

For actual service recommendations, for a local desktop, there are things like Jungledisk (Syncs a directory with an online version hosted using Amazon's S3) or Dropbox (Same thing, flat rate for storage, no bandwidth costs), or roll your own service using some kind of NAS hosting, like The Planet's new cloud storage platform.

Personally I sync stuff to dropbox, which syncs back to my laptop, work desktop and home machines, but I wouldn't want to use that for big corporate security sensitive stuff.

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