Over the past decade or so, cloud companies have emphasised that a key benefit of the technology is that your company’s data is stored securely online. Rather than having to perform backups of your data in hard drives and servers on-premises, it would automatically be backed up in Azure, AWS, Dropbox, or some other platform.

This makes it sound like the cloud can take on all your data back-ups. But on closer inspection, things aren’t quite so simple.

While the cloud is extremely secure, that doesn’t mean you’ll never need to think about backing up data again.  In fact, in most cloud providers’ service agreements, they warn that they may not always be able to retrieve your data – and even recommend doing back-ups with third party services. For example, in Microsoft’s Cloud Service Agreement, they state:

“We recommend that you regularly backup Your Content and Data that you store on the Services or store using Third-Party Apps and Services.”

If your data is already in the cloud and being continually backed up, why would you need to do this?


What is and isn’t backed up by cloud providers

Cloud providers like Microsoft, AWS or Google stake their reputation on providing highly secure data centres where customers can reliably store and access their content online. Every document, spreadsheet and application your employees use locally should almost instantaneously be synced up with the cloud provider, where the content is backed up.

In most cases, this is far better than what firms could do when storing data locally (or in a private cloud data centre). Big public cloud firms use cutting edge security and their data centres are protected physically against all manner of attacks and natural disasters. In the case of any hardware or infrastructure failure on the cloud provider’s side, you should be able to access backups. But this is where the protection ends.

Cloud providers won’t offer backups for many other things that could lead to data loss in the cloud:

There is also the small but not inconceivable risk that a major cloud provider could go out of business. This is highly unlikely, but it is prudent to have back-ups for the worst-case scenario.

And these are not purely speculative risks. One study reported that 58% of companies have experienced some form of data loss through Software-as-a-Service applications. If you want to avoid this form of data loss, cloud data backup is vital.

Related: How to improve cloud app security


Options for backing up data in a public cloud

Whether you store data in Azure, AWS, Google Cloud or somewhere else, you essentially have three options to back that data up:

  1. Cloud to cloud backup

This is probably the most secure option. Essentially, you perform a backup where data gets copied from one cloud service provider to another. For instance, you might use Microsoft Azure as your main place to store company data but then do a daily or weekly copy of all that content to Dropbox.


  1. Public cloud to private cloud backup

Similar to the above, in this approach you simply copy data from the public cloud to a private server on a rack you have hired in a separate data centre.


  1. Local storage

A final option is to copy data from your cloud storage provider to a local server in your company offices. Since this isn’t so scalable, it is potentially more costly. That said, local storage hardware is now relatively inexpensive, so this may be an option for some businesses.


Define your strategy for cloud data backup

Whatever approach you take to backing up your cloud data, it is important to have an effective strategy which defines what gets backed up, when and where. In most cases you won’t need to back up all the cloud data that is generated by your employees, every single minute. An effective cloud data backup strategy might look something like this:

  • Essential business data such as accounting files get backed up on a daily basis on a third-party server.
  • General-purpose business content such as reports, or email archives get backed up on a weekly basis.
  • Less important content may not need to get backed up at all – think things like personal employee notebook apps.
  • Make sure that any third-party cloud backup complies with your data retention policy – and that data you no longer needs to keep gets deleted.


We help with your cloud backup

FITTS is a cloud services consulting business that helps companies like yours implement their cloud management strategies. We can advise you on how, when and where to back up your cloud data to ensure your most important content will always be accessible – while staying on top of costs and compliance.  

Contact us for a cloud backup consultation today.