Whether your data is stored in a hosted email system, in a file sharing system such as Dropbox or Google Docs, or in an industry-specific application, it’s important to acknowledge the limitations of your providers’ backups.
Microsoft has a policy of backing up data in its system based on a complicated set of factors which result in them keeping files between 30 days and 3 months but doesn’t guarantee anything. Dropbox keeps files between 30 days and 6 months depending on the level of your subscription. Industry-specific applications are often hosted on Amazon’s AWS servers, and backups are dependent on choices made by the software company.
In short, these companies are backing up data for their own purposes, as a source of additional revenue or according to unreliable policies, so you need to back up files yourself. Here are seven reasons to back up your cloud data:
- Microsoft Recommends It – In Section 6.b of their Services Agreement, Microsoft states “We recommend that you regularly backup Your Content and Data that you store on the Services or store using Third-Party Apps and Services.”
- Human Error – According to Aberdeen research, more than 2/3 of data loss incidents in businesses are the result of simple human error. Busy, well-meaning employees can easily delete or move whole directories, and restoring them from a “recycle bin” is not always quick or easy.
- Malware/Viruses/Ransomware – In 2017, an international shipping giant was crippled for weeks by a politically motivated virus posing as ransomware. While many other organizations were also hit by NotPetya, few came as close to destroying a global commercial power as this example. In this case, the company was saved by what amounts to an accidentally offline server. If your servers are all in the cloud with no additional backup, you may not be so fortunate.
- Syncing Software Errors – The Sync client you use (OneDrive/Google file stream/Anchor etc.) can have errors that cause blank folders or bogus data to be written back en masse to the cloud servers. These applications are generally pretty solid, but bugs happen and when they do, huge amounts of data can be wiped out nearly instantly.
- Illegitimate Deletion – Microsoft/Intuit/Google/SalesForce/<software vendor> is not responsible for whether an employee should be deleting data. It is all too common for employees to “clean up their mailbox” once they know that they are looking for or have secured other work. This data cannot be recovered without a proper backup.
- Outside Hackers – This one is a little less common but could be disastrous. If your company is attacked by a competent hacker, only an offline copy of your data somewhere will keep that data safe.
- Employee Acting Maliciously - CERT has reported that 23% of electronic crimes have an “insider” component, and Gartner estimates that 64% of malicious data loss are done for financial gain. Data can be “exfiltrated” by trusted employees and replaced with bogus data or deleted altogether. If you have a competitor in your market, your internal data is at risk.
Cloud software can be a powerful tool for efficiency and productivity, but it’s only one part of a comprehensive IT plan. We regularly meet with our clients to review IT plans, including a review of backups. If you’re not confident that your data is safe, now is the time to act.