How to create a robust backup strategy with cloud services

From platform support to file versioning to private options, it’s important to consider all the factors when evaluating a cloud-based backup strategy.

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Let’s back up a bit…

Regardless of the eventual choice of a public cloud or a private cloud option, there is no running away from the fact that proper data backups offer protection against multiple threats, including mistakes, sabotage or even malware that is designed to deliberately encrypt or overwrite work documents.

On this front, we outline three primary ways in which you can create a backup from your primary cloud service below.

Cloud-to-cloud backup

The easiest way to create a cloud-to-cloud backup would probably be to sign up for cloudHQ, a cloud service that synchronizes data between multiple cloud services in real time. CloudHQ supports almost all of the cloud storage services in use today, as well as Evernote, Basecamp, Salesforce and SharePoint.


CloudHQ syncs data between multiple cloud-based services in real time.

To get cloudHQ to back up your cloud files, simply set up a one-way sync instead of the usual two-way sync. Select the “Archive files” option for files that are changed or deleted, and cloudHQ will now create the appropriate backups of file in the cloudHQ archive folder of the destination cloud service.

The service is not free, though — it will set you back $9.90 per month to synchronize an unlimited number of files. In limited tests, a new folder containing almost 6,000 Word documents and assorted images totaling 5GB took almost two days to complete its first sync from SugarSync to Dropbox. Of course, the fault could well lie with one of the cloud storage services, and is unlikely to be noticed even under normal usage scenarios.

Backing up from a desktop

For those who are unwilling to fork out cash for a subscription, an alternative would be to set up a desktop PC (or Mac) to make a copy of your cloud-synchronized files to a separate location periodically. There are a number of software apps that you can use here; noteworthy are GoodSync and Duplicati, both of which can create a copy on destinations such as FTP locations and networked drives, or cloud locations such as Amazon S3, OneDrive and Google Drive.

Some care is required to correctly configure GoodSync so that malicious edits or deletions are not also propagated to the backup location, while Duplicati is worthy of special mention due to its ability to perform incremental updates to reduce the storage space used. The latter also supports strong AES-256 encryption, which means that backups are protected against inspection.

synology cloudsync cloud storage service

Synology's CloudSync can connect to a wide variety of cloud storage services.

Using a storage appliance

A somewhat less orthodox way to protect your cloud storage service would be to rely on a network-attached storage (NAS) appliance to do the backup. The latest DSM operating platform that runs on all NAS appliances from Synology, for example, can hook up with a variety of cloud storage services, including Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive and Box.

In this case, the NAS can be set up to keep in sync with the cloud, while local versioning control on the storage appliance can be relied on to ensure that older versions of files can be restored at any time. Alternatively, a backup schedule can be set up to create regular point-in-time data backups.

For the sake of simplicity, the above suggestions only examined the broad options available to users looking to back up a primary cloud service. Alternative ways of setting things up are readily available, just as additional options are likely to emerge as cloud storage services — and the utilities and services that work with them —  continue to mature.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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