The Importance of Offsite Backups


Photo by Annie Spratt

Photo by Annie Spratt


Can Your Customers Trust You?

Many small businesses invest in data storage as part of an existing on-site file server but often overlook the importance of off-site backups. Having onsite and offsite backups allows companies to diversify their risk in case of a disaster or data infringement. Whether big or small, no business is immune to the catastrophic impact of a fire, flood, or earthquake.

But natural disasters only account for 10 percent of possible downtime — here are more common events that demonstrate the importance of offsite backups:

  • Data corruption

  • Local backup system failure

  • Viruses or cyber attacks/security breaches

  • Prolonged power outages

  • Theft or vandalism

Compromised data resulting from any of the above can cause operational downtime, impact business credibility, jeopardize customer trust and, in some cases, lead to irrecoverable legal damages.

Lessons from History

We all recall in 2017, the largest data loss in NHS history. The UKs National Health Service (NHS) lost nearly 900,000 documents with sensitive health information of patients, putting thousands of people at risk.

“The safety of thousands of patients has been put at risk due to the incompetence of a single private company and lack of proper oversight.” — Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat leader

There are certainly lessons to be learned from the NHS — mishandling of data and failure to be proactive with a backup recovery plan has serious consequences.

Just as saving a file periodically is good practice, keeping an offsite backup will help to mitigate the business risks associated with corrupt or lost data. Offsite backups combined with a disaster recovery plan allow businesses to get back up and running faster. But the speed at which your business recovers from a disaster depends on the type of offsite backup solution.  

In a survey conducted by Nationwide, of the 500 small business owners in the United States, 75% of them do not have a disaster recovery plan. And, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), nearly 40% of small businesses shut down after a disaster, unable to recover from the losses incurred.

The key to protecting your business and its stakeholders, is the proactive prevention of data loss – never keep all your data in one basket.

What Should Your Business Do?

Fortunately, there are easy backup solutions that suit an SMB budget. You more than likely don’t need to invest in heavy infrastructure to keep your data safe. With the exponential increase in availability of cloud services and advances in technology, businesses can find competitive rates for offsite backups that fit their business need.

What’s the Best Solution?

It depends. Here are some things to consider when choosing your offsite backup solution:

  • What’s your risk tolerance?

  • Does your business handle sensitive personal information?

  • Is your business publicly traded?

  • Are you B2B or B2C?

  • What’s the financial impact of downtime on your company?

Solutions Will Differ by Industry

If you operate a hotel chain, handling hundreds of thousands of transactions daily, you will have a low risk tolerance for operational downtime; being unable to recover quickly could mean thousands of unhappy customers and lost business. Not only that, with every guest’s credit card on file, you’re handling a significant volume of financial data – you cannot afford to cut corners with your offsite backup.

Switch the scene and now you’re a mom and pop grocery store. Downtime is still an issue for you, but you can go on for a few hours or even a day to recover your data.

Types of Offsite Backup Solutions

Cloud Backups

1. Cloud Backups or Replicas

The most commonly used backup solution for businesses today is the cloud backup (or replicas). Cloud backups mirror data to a secure cloud service.  


  • Availability

  • Low price

  • Ease-of-use

  • Vendor expertise


  • No control over data backup process

  • No location over location of datacentre

Remote Site Backups

2. Remote Disaster Recovery Sites: Cold, Warm and Hot 

A cold site is usually an empty space with basic facilities which may or may not have equipment available. It is the least expensive of the backup site options, and for this reason, it takes the longest to bring operations back to capacity.

On the other end there are hot sites which mirror the production environment of the original site with up-to-date user data. A hot site is the most expensive option but requires the least amount of time to get back to capacity following a disaster.

A warm site can be a cost effective solution for a faster recovery than a cold site, but still not the instant recovery of a hot site.

Tape Backups.png

3. Tape Backups

Tape backups, or tape drives, store data by reading and writing data on a magnetic tape.


  • Allow for multiple instances of backups

  • Long-term storage and retention, ideal medium for legal purposes


  • Requires a trusted third-party to transport and store the tapes

  • Retrieving and restoring the tapes during a disaster can present problems

Note: it is commonly recommended to use tape backups as a hybrid model in conjunction with cloud services.

What Else Should You Be Thinking About?

Where Your Data Is Being Stored

Whether you’re investing in a cloud or tape backup solution, it’s important to consider the laws and regulations around data storage in countries where you operate.

With an ever-increasing concern for cyber security, countries are cracking down on lack of data protection, but these policies vary depending on where you are in the world. Its important to stay up to date on policy changes to ensure you are protecting both the business and business stakeholders.

You Need More Than Just Backups

Investing in a backup solution is the first step to protecting your data. However, you don't want to gamble when it comes to the lifeblood of your business. As much as we rely on technology, we still need assurance that our data is, in fact, being backed up. Monitoring, reporting and testing your business's backup solution are all best practices to mitigate the risk of data loss for your business. Investing in these IT general controls helps to give your business, and key stakeholders, peace of mind over information security.  

Need help creating and implementing a disaster recovery plan for your business? IT Directorship works within SMBs to oversee information security and to ensure that backups are successful on a day-to-day basis. By catching backup failures immediately, we protect the integrity of your data and the viability of your business.