Top 7 Considerations When Choosing a Business Cloud Backup Provider
Backing up data to the cloud offers so many benefits, which encompass different aspects of running a business, including saving costs, security, streamlined management, and more. However, not all cloud backup solutions are created equal. While some excel in most — if not all — of these areas, others are quite mediocre.
A cloud backup provider may offer high-quality features, but might be unsuitable if it doesn’t meet the unique storage requirements of your business. Knowing what to look for in a provider will help you choose between the host of vendors that have flooded the cloud-backup market.
Ultimately, the provider you decide to go for should meet your specific storage needs.
Here are 7 factors worth considering when selecting a backup provider.
When it comes to cloud backup security and privacy, two factors that determine a good provider are encryption and two-factor authentication.
AES-256 encryption is the gold standard of cloud security because it’s virtually impossible to crack — it would require billions of years to crack it using the brute-force techniques available today.
One important security technique that not all cloud vendors implement is zero-knowledge encryption. A zero-knowledge backup system ensures that no one — not even the cloud backup service — except you, can access your private encryption key. This is an extra layer of protection for your data.
However, zero-knowledge encryption has some drawbacks. You won’t be able to retrieve your files if you forget your encryption key and secret code, since you’re the only one with this information. Also, zero-knowledge encryption slows down the data recovery process because you have to download and upload large amounts of data, which takes more time.
Find out who has access to the encryption key — you and the vendor or just you — and consider your priorities in terms of speed and security when deciding whether you want a service with zero-knowledge encryption.
Even though the traditional password login has been around for a long time, it doesn’t guarantee complete protection against hacks, phishing attacks, and other modern cyber threats. Two-step verification adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts by requiring you to log in using not just your password but a temporary verification code generated by the system. This verification code is generated each time you log into your account.
Most reputable cloud backup providers are transparent about their encryption methods and verification procedures, so be sure to analyze this information and ask questions if you don’t understand any area.
The location of a vendor’s recovery data center determines the safety of your data and the speed at which you can recover this data. Having the primary site and the recovery data center too close to each other increases the risk of data loss due to disasters, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, civil unrest, and terror attacks.
On the other hand, an excessive distance between the two sites can slow down response time and result in latency issues. Cost also plays a significant role in determining where your provider stores your data.
Choose a service that strikes a balance between these factors.
3. Integration With SaaS Solutions
The SaaS applications your business relies on should influence your choice of a cloud backup provider to a large extent. It’s unrealistic to use a backup service that works in isolation from software solutions that help you send emails, schedule important events with calendars, and manage other activities that ensure business efficiency.
If you rely a lot on software products, such as Google Workspace (formerly known as G Suite and Google apps), Microsoft 365, or Salesforce, you’ll need to find a backup service that is well integrated with these solutions.
4. Method and Frequency of Backups
Backup providers offer different types of backups, which impact performance and storage space requirements and fit different business needs. A vendor may offer full backups, which are necessary after major changes are made to data, but require a longer time to complete and consume more storage space.
Differential backups are quicker and save more storage space than full backups because they involve backing up only changes that have been made to data since the last full backup. Incremental backups are the quickest and save the most storage space. This is because, while they also back up changed portions of data, they only back up data that has changed since the last backup instead of the last full backup, like differential backups.
It’s crucial to choose a backup solution with a backup method that suits your business, but a great backup service should be able to perform different types of backups to help you customize your backup strategy whenever you need to.
Most vendors have different pricing structures. Some factors to consider when it comes to pricing include the amount of storage space being offered, affordability, and discounts.
Some providers offer unlimited storage while others use a cost per gigabyte pricing model. Some have affordable subscription plans, and many offer discounts on their longer-term plans and also release promos from time to time. Some also offer lifetime plans.
Also, to avoid incurring unexpected costs, ask the vendor if there are hidden charges for services like data retrieval, support, egress, or general maintenance.
Data compliance affects both you and your cloud provider. In most cases, the provider is already compliant, so there’s little to worry about. However, it is always important to inquire where the provider will store your data and what kind of data regulators require you to make available when customers request access to their data.
It’s also important to conduct routine backup and disaster recovery tests and document your testing procedures. This signals to authorities that you have a recovery plan and are capable of executing fast recoveries because you already know what to expect.
7. Uptime and Service Level Agreement
While no IT service provider is immune to downtime, the best providers are good at minimizing it — whether planned or unplanned. Most reputable vendors state the measures they take to ensure high availability in their Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
One important piece of information to look out for in a vendor’s SLA regarding uptime is the percentage of promised uptime. The level of uptime your business requires depends on the amount of time your business can afford to operate without access to your data. Most reputable vendors promise at least 99.5% of uptime, which equals about 7 minutes of downtime per day.
An SLA level of 99.99%, which is less than 9 seconds of downtime per day, is more suitable for large organizations, such as banks and healthcare providers that handle large databases with sensitive data. If the percentage of uptime a backup service is offering does not meet your storage requirements, try negotiating or looking into another provider.
Also, some vendors promise refunds or service credits for periods of downtime. Ask a potential provider if they offer any form of compensation for downtime and try negotiating if it’s below your expectations.
The best cloud backup solution for your organization is one that meets industry standards for data backup and recovery as well as the unique needs of your organization. For example, data encryption falls under the category of standards every cloud vendor must comply with to be considered safe while SaaS integration and pricing are more flexible, depending on what your business needs to back up.