28/03/2012

By Stuart Coulson

Backing data up in the cloud is already a well-established method in mobile technology thanks to Apple’s iCloud and Google’s recently released Google Play.

Cloud back-up is simple enough with mobile devices considering their in-built connectivity and relatively low amount of data, but with PCs and large data stores it becomes a little more difficult.

As you increase the amount of data per backup, the time and network capacity required to upload and download to and from the cloud also increases. Synching a backup from a mobile phone with a few images, songs and messages may take minutes; backing-up 1Tb of data to the cloud could take days.

With this in mind it is vital for businesses considering moving their backup into the cloud to ensure that their network infrastructure is up to the task. Cloud based backup could easily saturate the upstream and downstream bandwidth that SMEs are accustomed to.

The limitations in internet connectivity mean that even with a top speed connection, big data backups could take significantly longer in the cloud than using hard-disk backups.

Although hard-disk is almost always significantly faster, you can’t lose, break or set fire to data that’s floating in the cloud. As cloud storage is off-site, should your hardware be stolen, destroyed or damaged in the home or office, the data is still available and accessible from the cloud.

Having backups in the cloud within someone else’s data centre removes the worry of ensuring that your backup device is safe. In this sense, despite the security debate surrounding cloud, cloud can offer more peace of mind than a hard-disk backup that you monitor and manage yourself.

As expected with cloud technology, collaboration and mobility is another driver of cloud backup. Not only can the backup data be accessed from any device with an internet connection – smartphones, tablets, PCs – it can also be accessed from across the world so whenever and wherever you need it, your data is there, ready and waiting.

The key to successful cloud backup is due-diligence on your part. Your data will be stored on the hosting provider’s servers so choosing a reliable, PCI compliant cloud host who can safely store your data is key but there are steps that you can take to ensure that all security bases are covered.

If data is stored in plain text and the security of your cloud storage is breached, the data is then ripe for the taking by the cybercriminal that has hacked into your cloud. If data is encrypted, it is translated into a series of codes that would need to be decrypted to decipher the information – a significantly more difficult task than reading plain text data. All data should be encrypted when making the journey from your source to the cloud and back, and should remain encrypted while in storage.

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