Online Backup Functionality – What Do You Really Need?

If you’ve decided that online backup of your data is a good solution for keeping your data secure yet accessible to you when you need it, then you’ll need to select a service. How? Don’t rush to different websites, at least not before you’ve thought a little about what you need – and perhaps even what you don’t need. Yes, make a shopping list of the online backup functionality that you want, so that you can then compare the offerings of different providers to pick the one that suits you and your budget best.

Who Will Be Using the Service and for What?

What goes into your list and the priorities you assign will depend on whether you want to use online back up for personal data, professional data or company data. Some of the high-end solutions contain functionality that’s useful to businesses, but unlikely to be of interest for private or family backup requirements. On the other hand, certain needs are common to all users, so these are the ones we’ll start with, adding in other options as they become relevant.

The Basics – What Every Online Backup Service Should Offer

Proper data backups need to be user-friendly, efficient, secure and confidential. That means you’ll be looking for:

    • A clear, simple user interface to allow you to initiate the backup procedures and monitor what is going on (status and progress of backups, any alerts or problems).

    • Scheduling capabilities to allow you to run backups automatically at the times that suit you.

    • A service provider with a solid business structure, financially stable and with data storage capacity that comfortably exceeds current demand

  • Encryption of the data being transmitted to prevent unauthorized viewing.

The bullet points above apply whether you are backing up your personal digital photo albums or securing customer and order data for a large e-commerce site.

Do You Already Have What You Need?

Many applications on the web already provide online storage and backup facilities. E-mail is one example: if you access your messages via a browser, you may be able to store up to 5 Gigabytes of emails and attachments online. Image and file-sharing sites, including different social network sites, offer similar possibilities. Check to see if there’s anything on your list of backup needs that has been left out; an online backup service should offer you additional advantages, rather than just duplicating services you already get for free.

Advanced Functionality for Business Users

While the functionality below is available to anyone, business users and enterprises are usually the ones to see the added value.

    • Continuous backup. Rather than backing up at regular intervals, it may be preferable to continually backup a file even if that file remains open in your system (for recording financial transactions, for example).

    • ‘Seed loading’ and bulk restore. Massive amounts of data may be better handled by sending the initial back-up on a separate medium, such as an external hard drive, instead of trying to send hundreds of gigabytes over the Internet. Similarly, you may want to recover a large amount of back-up in a hurry, so an online backup provider doing both may be of interest.

    • Selective/differential backup. After getting an initial huge amount of data backed online, it makes more sense to then backup any changes that are made, rather than all of the data all over again. This and compression techniques to reduce the time taken for transmission can make a considerable difference when file and data volumes get big.

    • Versioning. While this might not seem important for storing your personal MP3 files, it can be vital for organizations that need to recover information in the state it was at a precise time and date.

  • Compliance. Data privacy and disclosure laws may affect how a business operates. A service provider that can help a company to be compliant can be useful too.

Pick the Solution that’s Right for You

Know what features and functions are important to you in an online backup service, and then choose accordingly. Just like going to your supermarket with a list you already prepared rather than yielding to impulse buying, you’re more likely to end up with the solution you really need.