Disaster Recovery from the Cloud – Is It Wise?


Businesses often wonder if they should move their backup copies of data off of local servers and into the cloud. The answers to their questions, though, are not as simple as one might think. Just as there is not any single disaster recovery plan that works in all scenarios, there is not one method of data backup that is superior to the other in every situation. Whether it is better to store files locally or on a cloud-based server depends on the type of information those files contain and how quickly that information needs to be recovered. Assessing the classification level of data and the speed at which it is recovered during a disaster recovery event will help businesses decide where to backup their important files.

Trusting Strangers with Confidential Data

Outsourcing data backup to the cloud helps businesses, especially those with a limited IT department, reduce overhead. At the same time, entrusting files to a cloud service provider also increases the amount of risk a business assumes. No matter how secure a company promises to be, having data saved on servers that can be accessed through the internet and / or by administrative employees of a third party company creates a potential loss of data.

For most information, the cloud is adequately secure. Governmental agencies and companies that have contracts with the Department of Defense, however, likely have files that require additional protection. Confidential information, whether of a governmental or business nature, is safer when stored on local servers or a Private Cloud from a Cloud Service Provider deploying a dedicated, fully managed, secure solution.

Disaster Recovery and Speed

One of companies’ main disaster recover concerns is how quickly they can return to normal operations. Whether the cloud or local storage allows for faster data recovery depends on the nature of the disaster.

Recovering from a disaster that causes severe physical damage is easier to do when information is saved with a cloud-service provider, since files are stored at an off-site location. Natural disasters often destroy both computers and local servers, but a single disaster will typically not harm both a company’s computers and off-site cloud servers at the same time.

On the other hand, local backup promises faster disaster recovery times than cloud storage does, as long as there is not significant local property damage. Companies’ internet connections are adequate for their day-to-day needs. Downloading all of a company’s files over the internet, however, can take a long time and slow the disaster recovery process. Initial first writes, or full backups can be moved to the Cloud Service Provider’s location, then incremental backups can be done more efficiently and quickly. Recovering all of the data takes time, though, and this must be considered in a recovery scenario. It is not about the backup, but the recovery. This is defined as the Recovery Time Objective (RTO).

If company leaders believe the data can safely be backed up on the cloud, they should check the service provider’s “time to recover,” which will be mentioned in the Service Level Agreement (SLA), and review their internet connection’s bandwidth. This will help companies know how cloud-based disaster recovery will take, which the can compare to their local network’s disaster recovery time.