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How to create a robust backup strategy with cloud services

Paul Mah | June 4, 2015
Love it or hate it, cloud storage is here to stay. Yet the fact is that cloud storage providers, like all IT companies, can experience outages or even go out of business. Moreover, the ever-present threat of data-corrupting malware and ransomware means that synchronizing to the cloud no longer offers adequate protection against data loss.

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.

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.


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