In storage technology, online backup means to back up data from your hard drive to a remote server or computer using a network connection. Online backup technology leverages the Internet and cloud computing to create an attractive off-site storage solution with little hardware requirements for any business of any size.
This type of off-site storage is typically part of a business disaster recovery plan, as the data remains safe should your office be at risk from disasters such as fires, flood or employee theft.
How Online Backup Works
Using a high-speed Internet connection, specific files or the entire contents of a hard drive are backed up to the online storage provider's system using a Web browser interface. In some cases the service provider may require software to be installed on your computer, but in either scenario, the files are automatically saved to the online backup on a regular basis (you have the option to schedule the backups at a specific time) or files are automatically backed up when changes are made.
Online backup services typically provide a Web-based admin console to access the data and to monitor the health of your backups. The backed up files are encrypted and stored in the provider's data centers. A business can download and use the data backup or browse the archived file system hierarchy directly from any computer or device.
Most online backup services are subscription-based, and pricing depends on the amount of space required to store your backup. Service providers employ a number of techniques to reduce the required storage capacity for your backups, including deduplication, where identical files are copied only once, and incremental backups, in which only changes to a file are backed up rather than storing multiple complete copies.
Recommended Reading: Webopedia Explains Cloud Computing.
Online Backup for Servers and Apps
In recent years, online backup technology has moved beyond simply replicating business files to backing up your entire infrastructure, including network-attached storage (NAS) devices, multiple workstations and business servers. This allows you to have access to a remote online backup of your entire business from any computer that's connected to the Internet.
Online server backup enables critical business services to be secured off-site and can eliminate some on-site backup equipment such as tape drives and media. Typically, service providers will offer business or enterprise-class plans that allow your IT department to manage multiple machines and perform centralized online server backup.
Pricing for this type of online backup service may be based on per-user license fees or be a flat rate, and is usually not a fluctuating monthly per-usage fee. Also, capacity is for one or more terabytes of storage, compared to gigabyte plans offered for online backups suited to archiving hard drives or specific files.
Choosing Appropriate Service Levels
When choosing an online backup service, a business has to consider its recovery needs and choose an appropriate service level. Many providers offer data replication services that will safeguard your business data in an off-site location, but additional services many be required to mirror your entire infrastructure, including the systems that data resides in. This includes operating systems, applications and user settings – all of which are required if your business needs to rebuild servers and databases.
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