Backing up data is essential in this day and age—both for the everyday professional and managed services providers (MSPs) tasked with protecting their customers from data loss. However, your customers might think of data backup as an amorphous, far off concept. They know you have to back up for security, disaster recovery, and compliance purposes, but their knowledge might stop there. Beyond that, they likely don’t have a strong preference for one backup storage method over another—what’s important to them is that you’re taking care of backup and they can access them when they need them—period.
Today’s MSPs specifically need a secure long-term backup storage solution and they should be prepared to communicate its benefits to potential customers. In this article, we’ll provide a quick guide to long-term backup storage, or archiving. We’ll cover why MSPs need it, how to talk about it with customers, and how to choose the best solution.
Data archiving vs. long-term backup storage vs. online data storage
When talking about the advantages of long-term backup storage with your customers, it can be helpful to break down the differences between long-term backup storage, online data storage, and data archiving. These terms are often used interchangeably in casual conversation, but it’s important for your customers to understand they’re not the same.
Backing up is the process of saving a copy of a file to a secondary location so that in the event of data loss via cyberattack, damage, error, or corruption, the file can always be recovered. Long-term backup storage is a specific form of backing up that utilizes a cloud-based, cross-platform backup storage solution. This storage solution is designed to provide a secure place to store all your backups for an extended period.
It’s important to note to your customers that long-term backup storage isn’t the same as online data storage. Online data storage solutions like Dropbox or OneDrive are file hosting services that give you a place to store files many people will need to have access to. The priority here is storage, meaning the files stored there aren’t necessarily securely backed up and MSPs can’t see the status of data at any given time.
For long-term data storage needs, some MSPs turn to data archiving solutions. Data archiving is like long-term data backup storage in that both approaches move data to another location. The key difference is that data archiving solutions don’t make copies of the original data to be moved to a secondary location. Instead, archiving takes the original data that isn’t being used and moves it to another location for long-term retention. Since this data isn’t relevant to day-to-day business-critical operations, there are no point-in-time considerations for recovery.
Why is long-term backup storage important?
What makes long-term backup storage the preferred solution for MSPs? First and foremost, long-term backup storage solutions are the most secure way to back up files. Backing up confidential files using a cloud server backup and then backing up those backups into long-term storage offers built-in redundancy to your storage solution. No matter what happens—data breach, power outage, cyberattack—you’ll always have access to a copy of your (or rather, your customer’s) information.
Long-term backup storage also has significant advantages over data archiving when it comes to disaster recovery and compliance. You can use data archiving solutions as long-term storage if push comes to shove, but they’re not designed to facilitate the easy recovery of files. Archiving data is like storing things in your attic—out of sight, out of mind, out of use. What’s more, data archiving solutions typically don’t save information about data beyond the point at which it was archived. This can pose a problem for compliance. If an auditor needs to see the status of the data at a certain time, data archiving solutions can’t provide that information.
Long-term backup storage can give MSPs a secure place to store their backups while simultaneously keeping them readily accessible for disaster recovery and audits.
Choosing a long-term backup storage solution
For the above reasons and more, long-term storage is crucial for MSPs to offer both security and convenience to their customers. Here are three key considerations for choosing a long-term backup storage solution, plus a breakdown of how SolarWinds® Backup satisfies these requirements.
A long-term backup storage solution should have security built-in from the ground up. This software should encrypt the data as it’s being stored and maintain that encryption during storage to help ensure it’s protected against unauthorized access.
SolarWinds Backup features AES 256-bit encryption in transit and at rest, and MSPs can even bring their own encryption keys. MSPs can further restrict access to backups in the standalone edition of Backup by manipulating role-level access. Backup storage in our private cloud is included with the software, and MSPs have 30 ISO-certified data centers to choose from worldwide.
Many backup and data archiving solutions do a master backup all at once and then only back up new changes that occur after the master backup. The only problem with this approach is it creates a chain dependency. Your backups are only as good or complete as the backup before it, and if there’s a break in the chain it might render all future backups obsolete. You want a long-term backup storage solution that is easier to use and offers the ability to locate the correct information more efficiently.
SolarWinds Backup helps eliminate chain dependency by using a journal-based system. A journal-based backup describes and organizes the backup according to its contents, i.e., “On this day the backup consisted of A, B, and C.” This approach is less error-prone and makes it easier and faster to find what you need when sifting through years of storage.
Most companies grow around 20-50% each year. That means you should be able to securely store increasing amounts of data for your customers. Your long-term backup solution of choice should be robust enough to accommodate future growth (both your own and your customers’) without driving up operating costs.
SolarWinds Backup features a small window and uses TrueDelta Technology to minimize bandwidth usage—you won’t have to worry about resource usage again. The pricing model is also unique because it only bills you for the amount of data being protected, which means your costs don’t increase as stored data grows. This buying model pays dividends over the years as your archives and restore points grow alongside your business. This continually becomes a more valuable benefit the more you archive and you can transfer these savings to your customers.
You can experience these benefits yourself by signing up for a 30-day free trial of SolarWinds Backup here. For more information about long-term backup storage, cloud server backup, and disaster recovery, read through our related blog articles.