Web-based applications are now an integral component of virtually every American’s life, both personal and professional. From online banking programs for consumers, to professional programs that once were installed on local computers and servers, the benefits of these software-as-a-service systems is that they are instantly accessible from anywhere, allowing us to be more mobile, and yet still as productive, if not more so.
This does mean, of course, that some of our personal or professional data is hosted outside of our personal control. Instead, it’s “in the cloud,” stored on remote servers that are usually owned and managed by major data hosting providers like Amazon, by the technology developers themselves or through third-party providers.
The primary concern of all computer users should always be security, especially those that manage sensitive client information. Over the 15-plus years that online programs and web-based backup have been available, however, it has been proven that online storage is not only secure, but is actually safer and more reliable than simply keeping the information on your office computers or servers, even when you perform backups in-house. Here’s why:
1Automation is more reliable than people
The main reason why online storage of data is most secure is because it takes away the human element. As with any technology, a data backup routine is only as effective as the weakest component, and human error is the most common contributor to lost data. Whether it’s getting lax on backups and performing them less and less frequently, storing the backups or having a backup drive located in the same office with the computers, or being too casual with passwords and office security protocols, humans are the number one problem with data security.
It’s true, technology fails at times, but we humans are more likely to forget even routine things. A central feature to almost all web-based backup systems available for both consumers and professional businesses is that, after initial setup, they automatically perform the functions at pre-scheduled times (such as in the middle of the night, so it doesn’t slow down your computers while you and your staff are using them).
“The very time of year that it’s most important to be getting good backups - the busy season - is the very time that people are too tired and too distracted to remember to make the backups,” notes Jeff Knoepke at Alert Management Systems. “Also, the littlest things can be your undoing. Even if you rotate your backup media just like your supplier taught you, all you have to do is accidently set the media to Write-Protected and poof! – no backup.”
J.J. Shea, general manager of Solutions by Computer (SBC), says, “Today’s cloud-based backups provide proactive verification, meaning the human element is largely eliminated from the verification procedure itself. The rental business owner or manager receives an automatic email notification each time a verification fails. Optionally, an email can be generated by every verification, success or failure.
“In the past, with in-store backups, verification took time away from management and customer service activities: the user had to monitor logs and reports in order to verify good backups. On peak contract days, it often got set aside. Over the past 30 years of rental installations, we’ve seen many instances where rental owners thought they had good backups, only to realize their error when it was too late.”
Shea continues, “The cloud has eliminated this problem for those business owners who take advantage of it. Dashboards that incorporate backup processes have also contributed to the solution. In addition, online backups are secured by encryption and passwords, which makes them more secure than tape backups.”