This article released by MiniTool official webpage mainly talks about a kind of cloud computing service – backup as a service. It elaborates on its definition, functions, features, advantages, disadvantages, and vendors. Also, this article gives an alternative solution – local practice for users to choose from.

About Backup as a Service

Backup as a service is considered a form of cloud computing, together with disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), data as a service (Daa S), software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and mobile backend as a service (MBaaS).

Online backup-as-a-service providers are companies that provide this type of service to clients or end-users.

How Does Backup as a Service Work?

Typically, online backup systems are built for a client software program that runs followed a set schedule. Other newer cloud backup services run continuously to capture changes to user systems nearly in real-time.

Typically, an online backup system collects, compresses, encrypts, and transfers the data to the backup as a service provider’s servers or off-site hardware.

Many products in the market provide a different set of functions, service levels, as well as types of encryption. Providers of this kind of service frequently target specific market segments. High-end LAN-based backup systems may offer services like remote client control, open file backups, and Active Directory. Consumer backup-as-a-service companies often provide beta software or free-trial backup services with fewer live support options.

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Typical Features of Backup as a Service

  • Encryption
  • Data compression
  • Differential data compression
  • Network backup
  • Continuous backup (continuous data protection)
  • Off-line backup
  • Synchronization
  • Online access to files
  • File-by-file restore
  • Bandwidth usage

Common Features for Business Users

  • Server backup
  • Versioning
  • Bulk restore
  • Centralized management console
  • File retention policies
  • Fully-managed services
  • Redundancy
  • Seed loading

Characteristics of Backup as a Service

The following are the main features of BaaS.

1. Enterprise-class Cloud Backup

An enterprise-class cloud backup solution must contain an on-premises cache to migrate any issue due to inconsistent Internet connectivity.

Recent backups are retained locally to speed up data restoration. Hybrid cloud backup works by saving data to local disk. Thus, the backup can be captured at a high speed. Then, either a disk to disk to cloud (D2D2C) appliance or the backup program encrypts and transfer data to a service provider. This adds protection against local disasters.

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Hybrid cloud backup is also beneficial for enterprise users who have security concerns. When saving data locally before transmitting it to the cloud storage, backup customers can carry out the necessary encryption operations including technologies such as:

  • Data encryption cipher: AES 256, AES 192, AES 128, or blowfish
  • Windows encrypting file system (EFS)
  • CRAM-MD5 password authentication between each component (storage, client, and cloud).
  • Configurable TLS (SSL) communications encryption between each component (storage, client, and cloud).
  • Computation of MD5 or SHA1 signatures of the file data.
  • verification of files previously cataloged, permitting a tripwire-like capability.

If you select a public cloud service provider, data encryption should be applied additionally.

Compressing the backup data is of the same importance. The local backup cache is used to compress the data before transferring it to the cloud to lower the network bandwidth load and improve backup speed.

This becomes critical for enterprises that have huge databases like MS SQL, Oracle, or Exchange (email database); or huge files like virtual machine images under backup.

Recent improvements in CPU availability enable increased usage of software agents instead of hardware appliances for enterprise cloud backup. The software-only approach can offer advantages such as improved data recovery time, great cost-saving, decreased complexity, as well as simple scalability.

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2. Service-based Characteristics

  • When it comes to recovery time objective (RTO), Cloud BackUp and Restore (BUR) services need to offer a variety of granularity. One size doesn’t fit all either for the applications or for the customers within a customer’s environment.
  • It is important to assure, guarantee, and validate that what was backed up is recoverable whenever it’s required. For example, data stored in the service provider’s cloud must be validated for integrity to ensure recoverability.
  • The backup as a service needs to be an active process when data is collected from systems and store in the original copy. That is to say, the cloud backup won’t require data to be copied into a specific appliance from the source location before being transferred to and stored in the service provider’s data center.
  • For the customer needs, they should never have to manage the backend storage repositories to back up and recover data.
  • The interface used by the customer needs to enable the selection of data to recover or protect, the establishment of retention times, destruction dates, and scheduling.

3. Security and Shareability

  • Security in the cloud is critical. One customer can never have access to another’s data. Besides, even service vendors mustn’t be able to access their users’ data without their permission.
  • The underlying enabling technology for backup as a service is a full-stack native cloud multitenant platform (shared everything).
  • Data portability or mobility prevents service provider lock-in and enables users to move their data from one service provider to another, or back into a dedicated private cloud or a hybrid cloud completely.

4. Elastic and Scalable

  • Cloud backup & recovery allows flexible allocation of storage capacity to users without restriction. Storage is allocated on demand and also de-allocated as customers delete backup sets as they age.
  • Cloud BUR enables a service provider to allocate storage capacity to a customer. If that user deletes his data or no longer needs that capacity, the provider can release and reallocate that same capacity to another customer in an automated fashion.

5. Ubiquitous Access

  • Cloud backup and recovery uses standard network protocols, which are primarily but not exclusively IP-based today, to transfer data between the service provider and the customer.
  • Repositories and vaults need to be always available to recover data to any location connected to the service’s vendor’s cloud through private or public networks.

6. Metered by Usage

Backup as a service enables users to align the value of data with the cost of protecting it. It’s procured on a per-gigabyte per month basis. Prices tend to vary based on the age of data, type of data (files, email, databases, etc.), volume, number of backup copies, as well as RTOs.

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Managed vs Unmanaged Backup as a Service

Some vendors offer expert backup management services as part of the overall offering. Usually, those services are as below.

  • Assistance configuring the initial backup.
  • Monitor the backup processes continuously on the client computers to make sure that backups actually take place.
  • Alert customers proactively when the backups fail.
  • Assistance in recovering data.

Scheduled vs Manual vs Event-based Backup

For backup as a service, there are 3 distinct types.

  • Scheduled Backup: Data is backed up relying on a fixed schedule.
  • Manual Backup: Data backup is triggered by user input.
  • Event-based Backup: Data backup is triggered by some computer events like database or application stoppage (cold backup).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Backup as a Service

Every coin has two sides. BaaS has both its benefits and drawbacks.

Advantages of BaaS

Compared to the traditional backup methods, remote backup service has below pros.

  • Use 128 to 448-bit encryption to send data over unsecured links like the Internet.
  • Continuously protect changed files.
  • No user intervention required.
  • Unlimited data retention.
  • Maintain a list of backup versions.
  • A few backup-as-a-service can reduce backup by only sending changed data to the cloud.

Disadvantages of BaaS

At the same time, remote backup service has some cons over the traditional backup methods.

  • Possible slow data restoration. Since data is stored offsite, it can be restored either via the network (speed depending on the available bandwidth) or through a disk shipped from the online remote backup service provider.
  • Usually, residential broadband services have monthly registrations that preclude large backups. Also, they are asymmetric. The user-to-Internet link regularly used to store backups is much slower than the network-to-user link used only for data recovery.
  • Data recovery is impossible if the encryption password is lost. This won’t be a problem with managed backup service.
  • No guarantee of keeping saved data private by some backup-as-a-service vendors.
  • Service providers going out of business or are acquired may influence the accessibility of one’s data or the cost to continue using the service.
  • As for backup cost, backup-as-a-service costs around 1 – 20 times per GB what a local backup would.
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Online Backup as a Service Providers

The following are some popular remote cloud backup-a- a-Service providers.

  • Veeam
  • Acronis
  • IBM
  • Wasabi
  • Veritas
  • NewCloud
  • Freeit
  • CNS Partners

Local Backup as a Service Provider – MiniTool

Regarding the disadvantages of remote online backup services, some of you may choose to back up crucial files to local storage managed by yourselves instead of the cloud servers controlled by others.

If so, you also need a local offline backup solution like Minitool ShadowMaker, which allows you to automatically back up data to internal/external hard drives or NAS with a customized schedule and even without an Internet connection. It can also encrypt, compress, and manage the backup image.

Let’s see how Minitool ShadowMaker works.

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1. download, install, and launch Minitool ShadowMaker on your PC.

2. If you install the trial version, it will ask you to buy. You can just click Keep Trial on the upper right of the screen to continue.

3. When it enters its main interface, click Backup on the top menu.

4. In the Backup tab, click the Source module to select the items you want to back up from the current computer.

5. Click the Destination module to pick up a location to save the backup image. It is recommended to save the backup image to an external hard drive or NAS.

file backup as a service with Minitool ShadowMaker

6. Click on the Schedule button in the lower left, switch on the schedule settings in the popup, and specify a backup schedule that suits you, daily, weekly, monthly, or on a special event (system log on or log off).

schedule file backup as a service task in Minitool ShadowMaker

7. Click on the Scheme button next to the Schedule button, Switch on the backup scheme, select a backup type (full, incremental, or differential backup), and set the number of backup versions to retain.

maintain backup as a service image files

8. Click the Options button in the lower right and a new window will appear enabling you to encrypt the backup image, set up compression level, check image integrity when it is created, exclude Windows Page File and Hibernation Files, order email notification, and so on.

manage backup as a service image file

9. When all settings are done, just click Back up Now to perform the initial backup.

Minitool ShadowMaker supports backing up files/folders, partitions/volumes, operating system, and whole hard disk drives. It can also sync files or folders from one place to another, create bootable media to boots up the failed computer, clone system from one hard disk to another, boot up machines within a preboot execution environment (PXE), etc.

Different Editions of Minitool ShadowMaker

  • Free Edition: Free of charge but with limited features.
  • Pro Monthly Subscription: One license for one PC with all features.
  • Pro Annual Subscription: One license for two PCs with all features.
  • Pro Ultimate: One license for three PCs with all features.
  • Business Standard: One license for one PC/Server with all features.
  • Business Deluxe: One license for ten PCs/Servers with all features.

View detailed differences among those editions and make your choice >>

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