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By Suresh Shanmugam, Product Marketing at Vembu Technologies
Vembu Online Data Backup Expert Tips: Are Online Backup Companies Trustworthy?
The first question that is asked when companies are urged to store their data with online backup companies is, “Why should I trust them?” True. Why should you trust an online backup company to keep your data more secure than you would?
A number of doomsayers would point out: “If the statistics on online backup service providers garnered in the last few years is anything to go by, you should certainly not trust them. Several companies have vanished into the blue with client data!”
However, one should not condemn a service without verification. Online backup services have much to offer their clients. Untrustworthy behavior of a few companies does not make every member of the tribe untrustworthy! It should be noted that a number of online backup service companies have remained stable and profitable while many others went under the hatches without warning.
So, what kept these companies stable while their competitors shut down? The facts should provide lessons in evaluation and also help those who avail of these services to pick the right online backup service provider from among the large numbers populating the market.
Many failed online backup companies which came into the market earlier, came in with a skewed perspective on revenues. They wanted to attract a large clientele and offered large storage spaces for free. This offer flouted the laws of economics and resulted in their downfall. These companies stated on hindsight that they had hoped to make revenues from advertisements and offset the losses from free space offers with such revenues. What they failed to perceive was that the enterprises, which wanted data storage space would demand security and exclusivity and such companies would not like to have their pages cluttered with advertisements! As advertisement revenue evaporated, free space offers became a burden to these companies and they had to close down to reduce their losses.
Online backup companies that have remained stable are those that created the right revenue model for themselves and did not hesitate to charge their clients for the service that they provided. These early online backup service providers also did not have a clear idea about what the service offer actually involved. They did not understand or appreciate that they are taking on the burden of backup and security of mission critical data and all its ramifications. Many online backup service providers did not look beyond setting up a server for backup of client data. There was no effort made to set up disaster recovery methodologies, including offsite data backup and storage, mirror servers and other backup protocols that would result from the backup service offer.
Clients too, did not examine service level agreements (SLAs) in sufficient detail before they signed on the dotted line. Once their data vanished into the blue with the online backup service provider, they raised a hue and cry and called the concept of online backup “bad” . The best of the breed online backup service companies provide clearly defined SLAs and disaster recovery systems that make sure that client data is replicated automatically on to mirror servers that are geographically disparate and backup tapes are created for offsite storage and recovery.
Security of data is also a matter of grave concern to enterprises that store data with the online backup companies. Many of the failed online backup service providers did not sufficiently secure the data against theft or hacking. They allowed the employees at the data center to handle client data for a variety of purposes. This led to client dissatisfaction and accusations of data theft.
The best online backup service providers ensure that client data is transmitted and stored in an encrypted format and that data center employees cannot access the data of the client under any circumstances. They provide clients with the wherewithal to create secure authentication and authorization protocols at the client end. These protocols can be set up, giving access to the data only to employees of the enterprise who can legitimately access the data. Many companies allow clients to generate and maintain their encryption keys. Hence, you will note that the companies that survived the holocaust are the ones that were never accused of mishandling or even handling client data.
Significantly, many of the failed online backup service providers did not have an adequate customer support system in place. The client emails to these sites were often unanswered and the clients reported being hit by a spate of Spam if they sent an email to these provider sites. Complaints to partners or owners of the sites also were ignored on these sites. Customers were left helpless and frustrated.
Good online data backup service sites provide several alternate customer service systems. Clients can email the company support or chat live with one of their customer representatives within office hours or 24 x 7 or they can write to the CEO or other partners of the company. Response to the emails also is instantaneous or at least can be expected within the time frame promised. FAQs answer the most pressing questions that the client may have and comments in other user forums will elicit immediate response from the company.
The bottom line is that customers should also study the revenue model of the online backup service provider to ensure that the company is not one of those mushrooming companies that will vanish with the dawn. Before signing up for the online backup service, potential customers must make sure that the reputation of the company is good and that the services provided by the company are satisfactory. They should study the SLAs and examine every clause in detail so that they are not taken by surprise when they seek to evoke the clause or recover their data. No purpose will be served by shutting the stable door when the horses have bolted.
About the Author: Suresh Shanmugam, Product Marketing at Vembu Technologies, a leader in providing cost effective, hybrid (on-premise and cloud) data protection and business focused online backup and disaster recovery solutions for ISPs, MSPs, VARs, Managed Hosting Providers and Educational Institutions. Vembu’s flagship product, StoreGrid, recently announced an advanced upgrade – “StoreGrid SP – 4.3? releases.
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