Endpoint vs Shared System Data Backup Options For Disaster Recovery

Endpoint vs Shared Data Backups

When it comes to IT subjects, few are quite as dry as data backups — and even fewer are as important. So we’ll make it as easy (and interesting) as possible to understand the different backup options and how to choose the right one for your business.

Anyone who has ever lost a phone (or dropped it in the Puget Sound on a fishing trip) understands the need to backup your data. Aside from the personally devastating loss of photos and Minecraft worlds, there is the very real business loss of contacts, meeting notes and voice recordings.

Now imagine instead of your cell phone, it’s your laptop. Or an office full of laptops. That kind of loss can put people out of business.

So what is the best way to protect your data? First it helps to know the lingo. We’ll walk you through the most common backup options, along with pros and cons of each.

What Does Endpoint Mean?

An endpoint is the device you are using to create, access and save your data. Mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, manufacturing machines and health system devices are all endpoints. They are the last stage in the IT system. 

With an endpoint backup solution, each of these devices is set up to periodically store the device’s data to another location. An example of an endpoint backup is using iCloud Drive to save your iPhone photos, contacts and more.

The downside of an endpoint backup system is that each device is backed up separately. Data from one device is not accessible from another device. Plus, it is up to the individual user to set up and manage data backups.

Shared System Backups

This is a company-focused backup solution where all files are stored centrally and work is accessible to all (with a permission structure as needed). So when your lead designer is out sick, a teammate can pull up your brochure, drop in the new images and get it to the printer on time. 

Shared systems help more than just disaster recovery. They are also a boost for productivity. People can collaborate more easily, working within the same document. And there is less need to be constantly emailing each other files and trying to figure out which one is the most recent.

Cloud vs Local Backups

Both endpoint and shared system backups can be maintained using the cloud, local servers or a combination of both.

A cloud backup is a bit of a misnomer in 2020 because unless you are backing up to a device  sitting on your internal network, you are creating cloud backups. The iCloud drive example is a cloud backup. But so is backing your local server up daily to your sister location in New York.

A local backup is just the opposite. If your computer backs up nightly to an external hard drive plugged into it, that is a local backup. For your office, you’ll use an onsite server instead of a hard drive, but the idea is the same.

Most modern disaster recovery solutions will contain a hybrid of cloud and local backups. That’s because cloud backups can slow down the speed of business as they download and upload. It’s nothing you’d notice in a Microsoft Word document. But larger files, like Adobe Illustrator or AutoCAD, will take seemingly forever. 

Local servers are lightning fast by comparison (at least 10x), but have the disadvantage of being the same physical location as the devices they are backing up. If there is a flood, fire or other disaster, backups on a local server could be lost as well.

Questions to Ask About Your Data Backup Options

To figure out which data backup methods are best for your business, you’ll need to answer a few questions:

  • What size is your team?
  • Are employees centrally located or dispersed geographically?
  • What types of files do you need to back up?
  • How long will you need to store backups? What regulatory or compliance requirements do you need to meet?
  • How many endpoints do you have to manage and what types of devices are they?

Let’s take, for example, a small business of five to 10 employees who live across the U.S. and primarily work in Microsoft Office files such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. A cloud-only backup option might be the best solution. Download/upload speed isn’t likely to be an issue and the geographical distance means that cloud services are the only option for sharing and collaborating in documents.

But most businesses will fall into some hybrid of cloud and local backup systems. For instance, an office serving 50 people might have a local server onsite to speed upload/download time. But then also have that local server backup to a data center 150 miles away in case of a local disaster. If regulatory and compliance issues mean that data has to be stored for years, that long-term storage may be purely located off-site with a secondary cloud backup to another data center.

The good news is that, as a SWAT Systems client, you don’t have to figure this out on your own. We’ll help you plan out, set up and maintain your backup environments whether using our data center for offsite storage or as a cloud solutions provider (CSP). So, if you think it may be time to update your backup plans, let your account manager know.

Not a client? We’re here to help. Contact us for more information or book an appointment anytime.

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