Some makers of hardware-based backup disks, NAS or appliances say their approach is best, better than the cloud for speed of restores and the confidence of seeing exactly where your data is stored.

Some providers of cloud-based backup say their approach is best, better than disks or appliances for the absolute protection of your data, and the ability to recover from anywhere, even in the event of a total disaster.

Both are partly correct. Hardware appliances are far faster for restores since the device is local and the recovery happens over a high speed LAN. On the other hand, the cloud cannot be damaged in a disaster (except, perhaps, in a nuclear war), and so the data is always there no matter how much debris hits the fan.

Each side only tells half of the story. SMBs do need fast local restores for data loss that occurs from hardware failure, user errors, software glitches or hackers. If that is all that ever happens, you might be able to dispense with the cloud layer of backup. That is assuming that your on-premises disk or appliance never itself falters. If it does, an added layer of backup, whether another disk or appliance or the cloud, is needed to recover.

Meanwhile, disk and especially tape backup are prone to failure during recovery, meaning data is lost forever.

Choosing an extra layer of hardware protection means that the SMB or MSP must provision, manage and pay for two sets of hardware. And if there is a disaster, both sets of hardware can be damaged or destroyed.

The cloud has its own flaws. With a trusted provider, you can be confident the data is there when a server disk dies or the very worst catastrophe happens. The problem is that the data is in the cloud, and must traverse from the provider’s network, across the internet or WAN, and then across the SMB’s internal network.

Most Clouds Too Dog Slow for Business Continuity

Many SMBs indeed choose to backup servers directly to the cloud, which is generally easy and cheap (with OPEX as opposed to CAPEX costs). If the server or servers are down, the data is indeed safe in the cloud, but takes a dog’s age to get back. Let us assume the servers have 3TB altogether. And let us assume the SMB has a 20Mb/s connection to the Internet.

Even if the SMB uses that entire bandwidth for the restore (which means no other work is being done), it will take a full 15 days to get all the data back. That amount of downtime is devastating to say the least.

This kind of data loss is no once in a lifetime occurrence, but happens far too often from viruses/malware, software failure, hardware failures (the leading cause), human error, and finally natural disasters – which only accounts for 3% of major outages or data loss.

Limits of Backing up to a Disk or NAS Appliance Only

Many shops think backing up to a NAS is enough, and having an extra copy of the data makes them safe. While a NAS device offers far faster data recovery than the cloud, it is far from perfect. First, you have to perform a full server recovery before you can spin the servers back up. That takes time, and as the desktops struggle to come back up, data access is down until the servers are fully operable.

The bigger issue is having confidence recovery will succeed. It is incredibly difficult and expensive to do automated recovery testing on these backups. Without this confidence, many SMBs pay ransomware criminals rather than go through their untested and in many cases poorly designed recovery plans.

Too many SMBs are indeed caught flat-footed. In a survey, over 60%, of SMB who suffered a major data loss event said that their BCDR plan was nowhere near as effective as they expected.

Enterprise Class BCDR – The Appliance Plus Cloud Backup Answer

As you can see, the either or of cloud vs. disk/appliance backup is a compromise either way one chooses. The total solution is to offer clients not just backup and recovery, but true BCDR.  You can do this with a combination of an on-premises appliance and the cloud – thus offering the best of both worlds.

Unitrends MSP offers this approach with an all-on-one BCDR solution does not require the stitching together of disparate vendor tools.

Because Unitrends MSP focuses on simplicity, it is easy to provision and operate, needing little special training and support. While this is great for the MSP, it also translates into an affordable, stable reliable system for clients. With Unitrends MSP, the on-premises appliance recovers seamlessly and almost immediately, while the cloud allows clients to recover from a disaster in less than an hour.

However, the real key is that with Unitrends MSP you can automate the testing so that you KNOW your recovery will work. It also allows you to apply those exact same processes used while testing to failover in the event of data loss.

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