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What If Off-site Backup Isn't Possible?

The very best backup plans are the ones where your data is stored in multiple locations. It’s good to have everything backed up to an external drive, but if that’s in the same location as your main data then both copies will likely be destroyed in a natural disaster.

You might be aware of something called the 3-2-1 rule. This rule helps remember and follow the best practices when it comes to backing up your data. That is, there should be at least three copies of your data, in at least two different formats, with one copy stored off-site.

The whole point of following this rule is to try and ensure that you will always have a copy of your data, no matter the circumstances. Different storage formats have different strengths and weaknesses; therefore storing everything on hard drives isn’t best practice.

The whole point of following this rule is to create redundancy. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if one copy of the data fails because you will have another two.

As per the introduction, and the final step of the rule, one copy of your data should be stored off-site. Although this can technically mean the building next door, it’s even better if this is a location in another city.

However, for some, storing off-site isn’t always possible. This could be down to budgetary limitations, security concerns, or something else entirely. It’s not recommended, but what should you do if off-site backup just isn’t possible?

Under the best circumstances, an off-site backup is one that is physical and that you retain full control over. Although it might be a hundred miles away, you’ll still be able to travel to it in an emergency if you need that physical copy of your data.

Nevertheless, there are alternatives. One such alternative is to store your data with a cloud provider. Although this raises some security concerns of its own, and can often be more expensive than physical backup, it does bring about benefits of its own.

There are many cloud providers who will hold your storage for a fee. The usual method of charging is per user, by storage capacity, or by a combination of both. Your data is then hosted on the provider’s servers, meaning it is technically off-site.

Perhaps the biggest downside to this option is that, if you have vast amounts of data, the time it takes to restore will depend on your internet connection. Unlike a physical off site copy, storing in the cloud relies entirely on online transfer speeds.

If storing to the cloud isn’t an option, there aren’t really any other reliable methods that can replace the off-site requirement. You could have a second drive in the office that takes a backup at the end of the day, which could then be taken home with you, but this is flawed and clumsy.

It’s truly worthwhile investing in an off-site system, but in the meantime it’s important that your backup plan is as redundant as it can possibly be.


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