Is the cloud the answer to your backup problems? Will it automatically let you put your disaster recovery plan into action in the blink of an eye and get your systems running again after a crash?” Despite the reputation the cloud has acquired for keeping your data safe, there is more to robust, effective backup than simply copying your files over to a remote server in somebody else’s secure data centre. For users who have been conscientiously using the cloud to mirror their data processing on local servers and PCs, the following may come as something of a shock.

It is true that the cloud can be one of the safest places to store data. The early days of cloud start-ups going bust are over. If cloud service providers exit from the market now, they tend to do it gracefully. They offer their customers a grace period in which to move over to a suggested replacement provider, like IT vendor Dell did. In addition, replication of data between cloud servers in geographically separate locations keeps multiple copies of files synchronised and updated. Unfortunately, for backup purposes, that is just the problem.

The replication of a file means that a change in one copy, the master copy for instance, is instantly reproduced in the others. That includes unfortunate edits and unintentional deletions. Human error is still one of the biggest threats to data integrity. Replication simply spreads those errors wider. Cloud services specifically designed for backup purposes avoid the problem, as do those that let you access “snapshots” of your data, made at regular intervals previously. However, if you are relying on plain vanilla cloud storage to back up your data, consider upgrading to a cloud solution that will protect you against user mistakes, as well as disk crashes. If not, your organisation’s data may be living on borrowed time.