Putting all your eggs in one basket is a bad idea – here’s why you should keep a copy of your important business data stashed away offsite.

While most people know they should backup their important files, some tend to be rather lax when it comes to doing something about it. Perhaps they occasionally copy files to a USB stick or external drive, or maybe they’ve gone the extra step of investing in a file server or Network Attached Storage drive for storing their backups.

The problem with all these backup methods is that you’re keeping all your eggs in one basket; your office. If, heaven forbid, a fire rips through your office destroying your computers, it’s not going to magically burn around your backup drives. If the flames don’t claim them, smoke or water damage probably will.

Meanwhile thieves who make off with your desktop computers could also turn their attention to your server room. Or cryptolocker ransomware could get a foothold in your business and infect both your desktop machines and your network shares. Alternatively something as simple as a burst water pipe, or leaking ceiling after torrential rain, could take your data to a watery grave.

This is where offsite backup comes to the rescue, keeping a copy of your important data safety tucked away in an enterprise-grade data centre which is better prepared for fire, flood or theft than your average office. If you think of backup as an insurance policy for your data, then combining onsite and offsite backup offers complete coverage.

The cloud-based Azure Backup and Archive options are at your disposal and are tightly integrated with Microsoft’s other apps and services. Azure “Blob” storage offers a cost-effective way for your business to take advantage of offsite cloud backup – storing any type of file including documents, media files and application installers.

Azure is a great place to store your data, but setting up a robust and effective business-grade backup plan isn’t a one-click process. You don’t just need a backup system, you need a tailored backup strategy which takes into account the different types of data your business relies on.

When people talk about “backup” they typically mean the files on which you’re currently working. These files probably change regularly and they’re the files which you’d need to recover quickly in an emergency to minimise downtime. Meanwhile “archive” typically refers to static older files, such as reference materials, which you call upon sometimes but don’t tend to change.

When implementing an effective backup strategy it is important to separate those work-in-progress files from your archival data. As an extra precaution you’ll probably want to restrict access to that archival data so that it can’t be modified, setting it to read-only and limiting access so that only nominated staff can add to it.

Rather than uploading data directly to Azure from your servers and fleet of desktop/notebook computers, a more practical approach might be to use a Network Attached Storage drive as a central staging point – backing up all your devices to the NAS and then configuring the NAS to automatically backup to Azure.

A QNAP NAS with Active Directory integration and the Azure Backup application offers an effective way to tackle this problem, allowing for a complete, economical backup and archive solution. It gives you the complete coverage of onsite and offsite backup, with the advantage of quickly backing up to the NAS and then letting the NAS backup to Azure overnight – which helpful if your internet upload speeds aren’t the best.

It’s important to note that Azure is only one piece of the puzzle. It’s a great place to store your data, but Azure alone isn’t necessarily the best option for disaster recovery – the process of quickly getting back on your feet after disaster strikes. For example, Azure is not directly designed to support bare metal recovery, which is the process of rebuilding your desktops and servers from scratch without needing to manually reinstall everything.

Azure might not be your one-stop backup solution, but it’s a great cornerstone when building an effective backup strategy which can come to your rescue when disaster strikes your business.

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Adam S

Adam S is a technology expert with a passion for innovative ideas.