Do I Need to Back Up My Data Stored in the Cloud?

November 1, 2019

The data you should be backing up and how to back it up involves a complex set of questions that every business owner or executive must find the answers to if they are going to preserve the integrity of their organization’s data and the value it represents.

Size of The Problem

Most businesses, especially small to medium sized businesses (SMB) use a public cloud for storing data in one form or another. Even if you haven't been consciously using a cloud storage service such as Dropbox to store documents, spreadsheets or CAD files to share and access remotely, you probably have data stored in the cloud.

  • If you use Gmail, Yahoo or another web-based program, your e-mail history is in the cloud.
  • If you collaborate with other firms through Google Docs or Microsoft 365, those documents are in the cloud.
  • If you use QuickBooks Online for accounting, your financial data is in the cloud.
  • If you've posted a how-to-video to YouTube, your company know-how is in the cloud.
  • And, of course, your website is hosted in a cloud.

A public cloud is hosted by a cloud provider, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, or IBM Cloud. It provides on-demand, pay-as-you-go services that are accessible over the public Internet. Multiple organizations access public cloud resources concurrently. Therefore, the cloud is made up of shared resources for users to access through Internet connected devices, and accessed on a self-serve, as-need basis.The growth in cloud storage and services is so tremendous that according to the RightScale 2018 State of the Cloud Report, 27% of SMBs spend $10k to $50k per month on public cloud solutions. 68% of Enterprise companies spend $50k - $500k+ per month.

If your company or organization isn’t spending nearly that much, the implication of this report is that you may be doing so in the near future. Of course, the key driver behind the decision to back up your cloud data isn’t how much you spend to store and access it but the value of the data itself. While a Facebook post may not be worth much (unless your Kylie Jenner) a CAD file or your customer billing history is probably worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to your company to replicate or replace. The costs skyrocket from there if you factor in the cost to your reputation if you experience a slowdown or work stoppage due to missing data.

Backup vs Archive

A discussion of backing up data, whether on the cloud on your laptop or in-house server, needs to distinguish the difference between backup and archives. Backups and archives both store copies of data produced or generated from day-to-day operations of your firm. However, the purpose for each are different, which means that different solutions are appropriate. Your company or organization’s IT cloud strategy needs to consider both elements.

  • A backup enables recovery from a situation where data has been lost, corrupted or becomes inaccessible, so it’s primarily a safeguard to facilitate data recovery. A backup stores multiple copies that are each associated with a specific revision of data and provides recovery back to a known good state from a specific point of time.
  • An archive enables compliance with legal and business data retention policies, as well as supporting discovery processes. An archive preserves a single copy in secure immutable storage for a finite time period and provides ongoing end user access to historical business information.


How Is Data Lost?

There's a common misconception that user data especially in SaaS applications like Microsoft 365 or QuickBooks is fully backed up. It’s more likely that an employee will delete something they end up needing two weeks later than the possibility of all Google’s servers being destroyed by a storm or a fire. In fact, SaaS applications usually aren’t the responsible party for data loss, but they aren’t built to protect against accidental or malicious actions either. Without a backup solution in place, you might be out of luck if one of these events occurs.

  1. Accidental Deletion and User Mistakes: More often than not, data is deleted only to be realized later that it is actually still needed. A collaborator might accidentally delete a shared project, or you might delete a scrapped project and then later learn it is starting up again. Information can also unknowingly be overwritten or corrupted by users and third-party apps.
  2. Overwriting Data: SaaS applications hold large amounts of data that is constantly added to and updated. Overwriting data is a common problem that occurs when large data sets are imported into the application via bulk uploads or when integrated third-party applications are used to manage the data inside the base SaaS application.
  3. Malicious Actions: People have been known to delete data before they quit their role if they suspect they are going to be fired, or to spite a boss or coworker they are angry at. Hackers can also be the culprit, sneaking past security systems to delete or corrupt data. Whether internal or external, untrustworthy users are a threat to your data.

What Do I Do?

Now that you are sufficiently scared about something you felt was under control, let’s talk about the next step you need to take. As a business owner or executive, you have to mitigate the risks associated with unintended data loss and that starts with making a formal assessment of the risks at your specific company or organization. A technology consulting engagement with Techlocity’s team of experts is designed to make that assessment and a managed service plan ensures that recommended guidelines and practices are being followed and maintained company-wide.Let us help you put this issue to bed so you can finally get that good night’s sleep.