Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cloud Backup

Former Intel CEO Andy Grove titled his 1999 book “Only the Paranoid Survive” which provides a good motto for thinking about protecting your personal and court data.  One potential solution that we will discuss in this article is backing your data up to “the cloud”.


Last year I received a jolt after asking Google about how they dealt with backing up data, in that instance the business version of Gmail?  They answered that they don’t really worry about backup because files on Google services is automatically is copied to five different data centers around the world.

One must think about that for a second.  Could a court afford five data centers?  Of course not.  Could you buy five different USB backup drives?  Yes, but you wouldn’t be able to back them up and transport/store them in separate locations every day.  So let’s just say that we are in a whole new world of thinking about data safety.

But before we go further, one must realize that this kind of backup capability is especially necessary in the world where “Ransomware” exists.  This is a type of computer virus or malware “restricts access to a computer system that it infects in some way, and demands that the user pay a ransom to the operators of the malware to remove the restriction.”  But if your system is fully backed up (and some systems provide continuous backup), you can just reformat your system and restore your files.  You lose some time but better than losing your data and your money.

For personal cloud backups I found a nice review article on PC Magazine’s website, “The Best Online Backup Services for 2015”.  While I won’t name it here, but the NCSC uses one of these for our computer systems.  The article notes the methods and capabilities including the fact that they encrypt your files on your local computer before they are stored on their servers.  Therefore your data is very likely more secure there than on your local machine.

I also thought that it was interesting that file sharing services like Dropbox have the ability to recover deleted files.  So if you just need to save a few files, Dropbox and competitors are another likely part of the solution.  And I must also share that I am particularly impressed by Dropbox’s upload speeds as I have sent 15 megabyte or larger files from locations in Africa and it wasn’t painful to do so.

In recent weeks I have also been learning about Amazon Web Services.  I learned that when one uses their cloud services that they make a snapshot copy every day of the databases that are stored there.  I like that a lot!

There is also a nice article regarding hybrid cloud backup that is a mix of onsite and cloud services on tom’s IT website.  In that article they discuss six cloud backup vendors along with explanations regarding some of the technical details of these services.

Last, Google has a humorous posting on their Google Cloud Platform Blog asking whether it makes sense to keep “your dusty Data backups” in your closets.  Check out their post here.

So good luck and stay paranoid.

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