The world is ablaze with options for backing data up to the cloud. You can hardly open a web page or a trade magazine without being bombarded with services and products for backing up to the cloud. In this article we’re going to look at three must-consider criteria to evaluate when deciding how to backup data to the cloud.

Archive vs. Backup

Data archival is a methodology for permanently storing data that you are required to keep, or wish to keep. Typically the advantage here is that cloud-based data archival storage is cheaper than on-premise storage.

Data backup is a methodology for storing current data that is needed to operate the business on a day-by-day basis. It’s the data that you cannot function without.

Data Recovery

One of the primary reasons for using cloud-based backup services is being able to access those backups anytime, from anywhere. But also relevant is how long it will take to recover (restore) the data so that it can be used. There are two components to the data recovery time to be aware of:

1.       Physical Transfer concerns the amount of time it takes to physically transfer the data across the Internet from the time the data becomes available to you for transfer. Effective strategies for choosing which data to backup and how often to back it up will impact the amount of time it takes to transfer that data back home. How fast you can transfer data across the wire to a specific location will determine what quantity of data you can afford to backup in a single backup set.

2.       Data Availability is the amount of time it takes for the service provider to make that data available to you to begin the transfer.  Data availability defines a key difference between services designed for use in a data backup strategy vs. a data archival strategy. If your data is not immediately available to you to transfer to your data center, then that service is not a data backup service, it’s a data archival service.


Finally, a very important, but all too often overlooked component of cloud-based backups is whether the data is encrypted in the cloud, and when that data gets encrypted. If the service provider encrypts your data that also means the service provider can decrypt your data! If the data is encrypted before it is transferred to the cloud, then you are the only entity that has the ability to decrypt the data. The encryption protocol being used is equally as important. Data that is not encrypted before transfer to the cloud, or encrypted with weak protocols, might as well not be encrypted at all.

So, to summarize:

  • Understand why you’re backing-up the data: archival or business operations.
  • Know how long it will take to recover your data.
  • Ensure your data is encrypted before transfer with a high-quality protocol.