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New options in backup and recovery

Storage service providers offer storage to offsite servers where data is transferred via an Internet connection.

Several groups have assembled packages for backup and disaster recovery. These groups have now been blessed with their own designation: Storage Service Providers or SSPs. For years software and hardware options have been available and used for the backup and restoration of data. Now set of options has emerged to offer storage to offsite servers where data is transferred via an Internet connection. Remote backup technologies use the Internet through a browser interface. Each company's product encrypts customers' data, enables users to upload files and applications to a remote server, and allows access to those files from any computer. They also provide restoration capabilities. Companies are working on the usability of the software so that the process is as natural as saving to a hard drive. Below is a list of considerations to use when deciding on an Internet-based backup solution for your network.

Though most such companies offer remote backup services to encrypt the sent data, business consumers still need to approach remote storage with caution. In short, if others want your enterprise data, then it is important to investigate the level of encryption used and make sure it's the strongest the law allows. Though backing up data is essential as companies come to rely on computerized record-keeping, businesses need to be aware that their trade secrets and customer records may be left vulnerable if stored remotely. Be inquisitive of potential vendors who offer storage, learn if they have had any past security breaches, and if so, what have they done to ensure the problem won't be repeated.

On a functional level, keep in mind that your data will only transfer at the connection rate you have available. Therefore, a dial-up connection is not very practical to use unless you are only backing up a minimal amount of data at a time.

Lastly, when selecting a provider, ask him to allow you to test the service. Run a trial backup and recovery and rate how easily it works, if the backup process is accurate, and if any security hazards appear. Never rely on the idea that it should be working because if it isn't then it may be too late to fix.

Some SSPs you might want to look at include: FreeDrive.com, FreeSpace.com, Backup.com, XDrive.com, FilesAnyware.com, iFloppy.net, and Storageway.com, among others.


Barrie Sosinsky (barries@killerapps.com) is president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield, MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.


This was last published in July 2000

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