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Prevent Data Loss with Remote Online Backup Servic
Prevent Data Loss with Remote Online Backup Service
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By: Arlette Measures
How to Choose a Remote Online Backup Provider

With dozens of companies offering online backup service, how do you go about choosing the best provider? What are some common issues you will need to consider? And in what ways do the services of various providers differ? To begin your search, TechRepublic recommends looking for the following key features.

1. Reliable software
Make sure that the backup software works well with your operating system (OS). Some offsite backup services run best on Windows Vista, while others perform better on Windows XP, for example. The only way to be sure is to test a service’s application. Take advantage of the free trial offered by many companies in order to perform this test.

2. Storage plans that meet your needs
Some offsite backup services bill by the gigabyte. Others will charge a flat fee for an account containing a specific storage limit, such as 100MB, or 10GB. Such a plan can simplify budgeting for companies that do not anticipate exceeding these limits.
Look for a provider that offers a plan that is within your budget and flexible enough to meet your company’s needs.

3. Detailed reporting tools
A chief advantage of automated backup services is the knowledge that your critical data is being automatically backed up offsite. With vital data thus vigilantly protected, you can progress to tackling other responsibilities. Be sure you will have access to file-level reporting, including a daily list of every file that’s backed up. Reporting tools should list file sizes, time of transfer, and error details.

4. A usable backup application
The backup application should be user-friendly and as infallible as possible. Make use of any trial period offered to work directly with the software. Verify that the service’s backup application and interface are straightforward enough to avoid bewilderment but adaptable enough to meet your company’s needs.

5. Simple recovery
When hard disks fail, system errors occur, IT professionals need the ability to recover files quickly. Test each backup provider’s recovery capabilities to ensure that file recovery, if needed, will be simple, quick and secure. Also, make sure that unauthorized parties will be unable to perform this function.

6. Secure file transfer
Do not work with a provider who offers less than 128-bit AES encryption and SSL security. If you require the utmost in privacy and security you might opt for a much stronger encryption, such as the 448-bit encryption offered by some providers.

Whichever you choose, your data must remain secure once it reaches the destination server, which means the provider should have appropriate policies in place to ensure that employees cannot access client data unless authorized to do so. Be sure to protect account information (along with recovery hashes or passwords) vigilantly and change access information often.

7. Free trials
The best way to establish whether an offsite backup provider will be the right one for your company is to take advantage of the free trial period. Use this time to test the backup software application, support procedures, and reporting tools, and conduct a test recovery as well.Testing online backup tools on systems with similar configurations to those running in production environments will help eliminate any surprises and make you aware of potential incompatibilities.

8. Version tracking
Quite a few backup providers support the ability to retain multiple file versions. This can be a very useful feature if you ever need to refer to previous file versions. The typical daily backup schedule leaves little time to catch errors before each file is written over. Versioning file systems give you a means to review file history if the need should occur.

9. E-mail alerts
Some offsite backup providers will send you email alerts to make you aware when backups are failing or other concerns present themselves. This will ensure that your IT staff is aware of all backup operations and can deal with any problems as they arise.

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