While the benefits of Cloud Backup are discussed repetitively in full depth by pretty much all Backup Software providers out there, it is important to consider the disadvantages of the cloud backup strategy as well.
All technologies and strategies have upsides and downsides and cloud backups have their own. When considering cloud backup for your business, cloud backups should augment a local backup strategy–not replace it—because local backups have their own advantages over other backup strategies.
Dependence on a Third Party Provider
Cloud backups are convenient. You don’t have to buy hardware to store the data or replace it when it breaks; however, you rely on your provider to do this properly and reliably.
Many providers at this point in time are funded companies and may disappear overnight when funding is cut off. This has occurred in the past when no mergers or takeovers are accomplished by the company’s investors. Sometimes a takeover of the cloud provider does take place but the service agreement and pricing is changed in such a way that you no longer find the provider suitable for your needs. The possibility that you may be dissatisfied with your provider brings us to the next point: switching providers.
Difficulties Switching Providers
Naturally cloud backup providers have their own infrastructure, which includes various software components. This infrastructure is efficient but it is also proprietary. Cloud providers are interested in long-term partnerships with their clients as client acquisition is generally expensive (Google charges about $100 a click for cloud backup related keywords). It is then no surprise that there aren’t many open standards that would allow a painless and quick way to switch providers, as it is not in the interest of cloud providers.
However, if your company has a serious amount of data in the cloud, there is another issue: bandwidth.
Dependence on Internet Provider and Bandwidth
Cloud storage is useless if you can’t connect to it efficiently, which means high-speed and low-cost. If your business generates terabytes of data each month, all that data needs to be uploaded a little faster than it is being generated, to allow for some slack time. You would need to provide internet connections with the required bandwidth and pay for these each month, which increases not only the overall cost of a cloud backup system, it also creates a dependency on your internet provider and their quality of service.
If your provider is the only one in the area serving the connection speeds you need at an affordable price point, chances are they could sooner or later exploit their monopoly and radically increase prices in the medium term.
Yet, the main problem with cloud backups in the U.S. at this point in time is that most businesses have no access to an affordable, high bandwidth internet connection. As a rule of thumb, for each GB of data per day you would want to provide a Mbps upload speed in order to be able to finish uploads overnight within a reasonable time.
Hyper-V backup over the cloud is an interesting subset of cloud backups and deal with very large files that need to be updated to the cloud on a daily basis. While cloud backup providers figured out ways to accomplish this kind of Hyper-V Backup over relatively slow connections (see for example Step-by-Step Windows 8.1 Hyper-V Backups), the issue of recovery still needs to be considered.
For the reasons stated above, most cloud providers offer seeding and express recovery using external hard drives shipped by courier in case you have to recover a large amount of data within a short time.
If internet connections were as fast as local area network connections, this kind of service wouldn’t be necessary. Because recovery of cloud data depends on the availability of good internet bandwidth it may not be suited as a standalone backup strategy. For quick recoveries it’s best to have a local backup available. Cloud backups should be considered for rare occasions when local storage is destroyed, for example by natural disasters, vandalism, theft, etc.