7 remote data backup terms for protection during a pandemic

In this glossary, you'll find important background information on remote backup. It's crucial to think about everything from network connections to backup devices and sites.

With so many employees working from home, it's important to understand key terms, phrases and procedures around remote data backup.

The coronavirus pandemic caused some organizations to completely shift how they operate. Employees who previously didn't work from home at all suddenly started working from home full time. The resulting influx of remotely created data spurred the need for proper backup.

The pandemic may forever change how we work -- at the very least, there will be more people working remotely than there were before COVID-19 hit. So, it's important to make sure you understand the specifics and differences among key remote data backup terminology.

This glossary of seven terms provides details that will help protect your remote work environments.

Backup storage device. Backup storage devices encompass a broad range of equipment. For our purposes, the remote backup appliance is the most relevant. This type of appliance backs up data that's outside the traditional data center. Remote data backup appliances are useful for disaster recovery and within organizations heavy on home workers.

It's important to use a product with proper security features, such as encryption, as well as solid management capabilities. Other types of backup storage devices include disk-based systems, integrated appliances and cloud-based products.

Off-site backup. While off-site data backup includes cloud and tape backups, we're focusing on cloud-based platforms because they're a better choice for a remote work environment. With cloud backup, a data copy transmits over a network to an off-site server. An organization can essentially recover that backup from anywhere.

This type of protection follows the "3-2-1 Rule of Backup," in which an organization should have three copies of data on two different media, with one copy off site. While on-site backup might offer a quicker recovery time, it's not as feasible with employees working from home, because there may not be anyone in the office data center.

Online data backup. Online backup is essentially cloud backup, as the service provider's site is almost always some kind of cloud. Advantages include ease of use, as employees typically don't realize the backup is even happening. Online backup enables remote and branch offices with no on-site IT support to back up reliably. Cost could be a challenge, depending on how much and how long an organization stores data. Recoverability is usually a straightforward process but can take a while, especially if it involves a large amount of data.

Remote access. Remote access enables an employee to retrieve information over a network, an especially important process from a home office environment. It increases worker productivity and collaboration. A VPN connection is a popular method for remote access. Organizations, though, must make sure that security is tight and that all employees can log on at the same time. For example, if an organization suddenly goes from no remote work to everyone working from home, the VPN connection could become overloaded.

Remote desktop. The remote desktop enables an employee to connect to a computer that's in a different location. The employee can see that computer's desktop and use it. One major benefit is accessing an office computer from home. Vendors that offer the remote desktop function include Citrix, Microsoft and TeamViewer.

Remote office/branch office. The remote office or branch office, often referred to as ROBO, is a business site away from the organization's headquarters. While a branch office may feature several employees and provide a typical office environment, a work-from-home setup could constitute a remote office. As a result, data protection may not be ideal. A remote office typically wouldn't have dedicated backup and recovery staff. Therefore, it's incumbent upon the organization to figure out remote data backup, for example through a cloud service, so its workloads are protected.

ROBO backup. ROBO backup, or remote data backup, copies data created by remote and branch offices and stores it in a secure location. Centralized backup, perhaps over a network, enables an organization to manage data created by employees spread out in many different locations. Organizations, though, need to be careful that they're not backing up employees' personal data. In addition to cloud-based backup or file sync and share, installing a backup agent is another option for ROBO data protection.

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