Cloud Backup Explained

Everything you need to know about cloud backup services and your M365 environment.

What is cloud backup?

Cloud backup—known as online backup and remote backup—is a strategy to protect and conserve business assets by storing a copy of a virtual or physical file or database on a secondary, off-site location. Generally, these secondary server and data systems are hosted by third-party services providers including managed service providers (MSPs). For a recurring fee, usually on a prescription basis, the service provider manages the storage space and charges based on plan size, capacity leveraged, the number of company users, the amount of servers, or the frequency in which data is accessed.

Launching cloud data backup is mission-critical to any organization’s cybersecurity strategy. Cloud backup significantly boosts your business protection strategy without expanding your IT team’s workload. The labor-saving potential and ability to quickly restore data in the event of a climate event or ransomware hacking with zero to minimal business downtime. Without a robust cloud backup strategy empowering business resilience, organization’s risk going offline or out of business altogether after a crisis. This ability to quickly restore business assets and bring your business back online without having to worry about costly ransomware fees—or government fines and charges for paying them—can save businesses millions in the long run.

Most cloud backup solutions run on a monthly or annual basis. While cloud backup is frequently used at a consumer level and at home offices, online cloud backup services are now the best practice frequently used at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and across the global business enterprise to back up a myriad of data types. At larger organizations, cloud data backup can provide a supplementary form of backup. More cybersecurity insurance companies are requiring organizations to implement cloud backup solutions to maintain and renew existing business plans. Cloud backup is a best practice recommended by Microsoft for all M365 and O365 business plans.

How does cloud backup work?

Cloud backup services store business data and applications backup on servers from a remote server. Most organizations back up on the cloud to protect files, data, and applications, keeping them safe and instantly available in the event of a system failure, cyber-attack, outage, or natural disaster.

Cloud backup for business operates by copying and storing your server’s files to a server in a different physical location. A business can back up some or all server files, depending on its preference. Actively working behind the scenes, a cloud backup application actively and instantly copies data—storing it on different media or another storage system to streamline access in the event of a disaster-recovery situation.

While traditionally there are a variety of options and approaches to off-site backup, cloud backup is the modern best practice for organizations across industries and the business enterprise. File storage is the leading cloud backup used across the enterprise with most organizations also leveraging cloud backup for disaster recovery.

What’s the difference between cloud backup and archive and why does it matter for Microsoft 365?

Knowing the difference between cloud backup and archive is essential to securing and optimizing your Microsoft 365 environment. There’s regular confusion about the difference of cloud back up services versus archive because the terms are frequently used interchangeably. However, both knowing and understanding the difference is critical to aligning your data storage methodology and goals.

Archiving or “Putting it on Ice”

Data archiving is the long-term process of storing and retaining data once it’s retired. Businesses archive data that is no longer in use to restore it in the future as necessary.  For example, most businesses maintain an active archive of dated email correspondence readily available in case of organizational shifts, personnel changes, or legal situations. Archiving data is a way of putting your outdated data on ice in case it becomes relevant later.

Calling for Backup

Cloud backup on the other hand is defined as the process of actively storing a second set of data for instant retrieval in case of a data loss event. Backing up your business applications and data makes a second, duplicate set of all your files (both current and outdated) to instantly restore them in the event of a disaster recovery or cybersecurity event. To secure business applications and intelligence, every organization needs a cloud backup. Cloud backup is especially critical for any organization because of the mounting value of data. In fact, data’s worth recently surpassed that of oil.

Here are the major differences between archive and cloud backup:

Think preservation versus recovery.

Archiving and backing up data have significantly different purposes and capabilities. While archiving is dedicated to long-term data preservation and retention, cloud backup is focused on the recovery of data, apps, and files in the event of an emergency like a severe weather event, a cyberattack, or accidental deletion.

Meanwhile, archiving files preserves dated resources to keep handy for later, while backing up protects your organization with the ability to restore everything.

Think different access levels.

Cloud backup and archive both support different technical functions, evident by the different levels of user access. Archives store individual files like word documents, databases, and email message files to ensure they’re easy to locate later. Files are archived along with their metadata, making it easy to find previous employee communications or dated contracts if you’re trying to get more insight into past business interactions after an employee has moved onto another employer. While archives are perfect for retrieving incidentals, archives aren’t meant to be used for a total recovery.

In contrast, cloud backup data is backed up files, apps, and data in case of the need for a large-scale recovery later. Backup applications while used for data objects and individual files, are intended for major recovery efforts—recovering files, systems, data, and applications.

Think Disaster Recovery.

When it comes to what makes cloud backup of data, systems, and applications so different from archiving files and data—it’s focused on disaster recovery preparation. Cloud backup services are vital to Disaster Recovery (DR). Backing information up and protecting that data offsite—usually on the Cloud—in case of a disaster.

While maintaining an archive system is important, it cannot save your data in the event of a business crisis. That’s critical because the number of annual ransomware attacks has quadrupled since 2020. These attacks cost businesses and even local city governments millions to retrieve stolen data from hackers or rebuild their systems, and now organizations can be fined and sanctioned as a federal offense for paying ransom fees.

Here’s why cloud backup services are integral to securing your Microsoft 365 environment and connected workforce.

While the leading productivity and collaboration suite, Microsoft 365 is hailed for a whole host of best-in-class applications, cloud backup isn’t one of them. Keeping your Microsoft 365 data readily available is more critical than ever in our remote, connected workplace. That’s why evaluating an extra layer of backup as part of your Microsoft 365 approach is so critical.

Every month, more than 3 million businesses are added to Microsoft office. However, businesses going with the out-of-the-box setup without a cloud backup services provider for an extra layer of protection will lack a comprehensive backup strategy in the event of an emergency. IT leaders can save businesses millions of dollars by investing in additional layers as part of your Microsoft 365 strategy. Having the right cloud backup strategy protects business data from accidental deletion, security threats, and policy gaps. Backing up your Microsoft 365 environment makes restoring individual items or entire applications easy with recovery flexibility.

Using a third-party backup solution helps prevent unnecessary disruptions and outages while keeping your Microsoft 365 data and applications readily available. With the right cloud backup services solution, you can protect your data from security threats, accidental loss and deletion, and hidden policy gaps while supporting legal and compliance requirements.

A robust, third-party backup solution can empower your organization to streamline continuity from the data center to the cloud while extending full availability to virtual, physical, and cloud-based workloads while optimizing your M365 environment to empower a high-performance, connected workforce that never stops collaborating.

Leveraging a dedicated backup solution for your Microsoft 365 environment also reduces costs while preventing unpredictable, fluctuating expenses by moving the data to Azure.

Protect your data and ensure you can recover your files.

According to a recent MicroAge report surveying hundreds of IT leaders, 62% of technology leaders consider cloud strategy an area where they lack support. Don’t wait for an emergency. Whether you’re using Microsoft 365 already or are making the move, MicroAge is here to help. Contact your Account Executive, call 800-544-8877, or email our Solutions desk to get started.

MicroAge has more than four decades of experience in IT—building relationships on trust and powerful outcomes. Learn how we can help you assess, select, and implement a high-performance backup technology. Visit our Cloud Backup Services page.

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