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Choose the right remote site backup approach

Remote office backup is mission-critical for organizations that have employees working outside of the main office. Explore options for this type of data protection.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, much of the world shifted to a remote work environment. Working from home became the norm, and backup became even more pressing.

When employees work from home, they may use personal devices that don't have the comprehensive backup and protection that office equipment should have. In addition, cyberthreats are increasingly prevalent, as attackers seek to take advantage of vulnerabilities. That all means that your organization should have a strong remote site backup process.

Some employees will continue to work from home for good. And smaller remote and branch offices will likely be popular as well.

In this tutorial on remote site backup, learn about the pros and cons of on-site data backup, centralized data backup and cloud backup for remote sites.

Cloud backup services for remote sites

Organizations can take advantage of remote site backup to a cloud service using public or private clouds. Backing up remote sites to the cloud is a type of centralized backup -- you simply back up all your remote sites to your cloud environment.

The cloud has become even more popular with organizations shifting to remote work. As an example, an employee working from home who is on the company's network can back up data to the company's cloud backup location. Cloud backup and recovery don't require IT staff to go into a data center.

"One of the biggest advantages of cloud-based compared to on-premises backup is that the cloud is lighter-weight to get up and running and to maintain for IT personnel," said Krista Macomber, senior analyst at Evaluator Group.

Companies should pick cloud vendors carefully because pulling data back out of the cloud can be costly and time-consuming. This can cause a significant amount of downtime if you can't get to your data. In addition, with so many organizations relying on the cloud as a result of the pandemic and the increase in remote work, it's important to make sure the provider can handle all that data.

Top cloud backup providers include Asigra, Backblaze and Carbonite.

Chart of remote work tips

On-site remote office backups

Organizations can choose to back up each of their remote sites locally using disk as the backup medium. This remote office backup approach offers local access to data and applications. Keeping local backups can speed restoration times, which can be a benefit if you need to restore a large amount of data.

On-site backups are often difficult to maintain, however. A company might have dozens of remote sites, so staffing all of them with experienced IT personnel may not be possible. In addition, as a result of the pandemic, IT staff may not be in a given office as much anymore.

Tape storage is another backup option and touts strong protection against cyberattacks because it is inherently offline. However, it is more widely used for archives or a secondary form of backup. In addition, organizations often move tape off-site for better protection, in the event of a problem at the office. Automation is important for tape storage so IT doesn't have to constantly handle the tapes.

"If the data is stored on tapes at a facility like Iron Mountain, which stockpiles media inside secure vaults, this could create a potential drawback to using tape as the primary backup and recovery platform during a pandemic," according to technology writer John Edwards. "Without tape-based backup automation, when an organization needs to recover data because of a major event or disaster, it will have to request the tapes from the off-site storage location."

Data replication and centralized backups

In a centralized backup approach, data from the remote sites is backed up to a central data center or the cloud using Replication. With replication, data can be copied frequently throughout the day and backed up to the alternate location with the rest of the corporate data.

Make sure you have some form of remote site backup. Remote employees are dealing in mission-critical data every day, and that data needs backup.

Centralized backups are a good option for remote site backup because you don't necessarily need IT staff at remote locations. You also have more control over your data.

However, if something goes wrong at a remote site, you still need to troubleshoot it. Cost can also be an issue, as replication gets expensive.

There are a variety of software vendors that enable replication and centralized backup, such as Dell EMC, Veeam and Zerto.

Take advantage of backup deduplication

Deduplication eliminates redundant files on a storage system. This process is helpful for backups that get repeated and may include many of the same files. It's important to cut down on the amount of data as much as possible, as volumes are growing exponentially. IDC reported that the global datasphere may hit 175 zettabytes by 2025. When data sets get too large, they become unwieldy and difficult to manage. When you're dealing with remote office backup and recovery situations, you want a process that's as easy as possible to get your critical data back online.

Compression, which reduces the size of files, is another way to cut down on the amount of storage. Both compression and deduplication reduce the volume of data that needs to be sent across the wire to or from remote locations.

Whatever you do, make sure you have some form of remote site backup. Remote employees are dealing in mission-critical data every day, and that data needs backup.

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