Keeping user data backed up is a never-ending problem for IT staffs everywhere. As the capacity of local hard drives increases exponentially and the amount of business data that resides on those drives proliferates, establishing policies for regularly backing up that data is more important than ever. Ensuring timely, regular backups is even more critical for small- or remote-office locations that might not have the financial or IT resources to keep data well protected. Too often, small companies choose not to spend money on the hardware, software, and manpower that they need to keep business data backed up.
A recent product announcement has particular relevance for small companies that face this backup predicament. Last week, Verio (http://www.verio.com) announced the immediate availability of Remote Backup, a low-cost, remote backup service for servers and clients on any network that has a reliable Internet connection.
For $100 per month, a Remote Backup customer gets 10GB of storage for backing up as many as five computers (server or workstation; the computer's role doesn't matter). On the computers that will be backed up, you need only install a small client application, which on a Windows system becomes an icon in the system tray. (Remote Backup also supports Red Hat Linux, HP-UX, Solaris, and AIX.) You then select the directories you want to back up to Verio's offsite service. The client application also lets you open a Web portal to the backup service and monitor your recent backup activity (the last 10 attempted backups are kept available for review). You use the same application and portal to restore data that's been successfully backed up via Remote Backup.
After a file is backed up for the first time, only changes to the file are backed up thereafter. Verio estimates that roughly only 1 percent of the backed-up data will need to be touched, meaning that when you back up 10GB of files, you'll actually transfer only 100MB of data each day for the backup. The service level agreement (SLA) that's provided with the Remote Backup service guarantees a daily backup. Verio gives you two timeframes for scheduling the backup: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. or 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. As you might expect, you need a sufficiently fast Internet connection to enable Remote Backup to move the required data in the available timeframe.
The Remote Backup service is location independent, which should make it especially attractive to businesses that have a traveling sales force or casually connected users. As long as their computers are on and have an active Internet connection, users can get their critical data backed up every evening--certainly an attractive proposition to any IT employee who's had to deal with phone calls from traveling users who are panicking because they just lost critical data.
I doubt that Verio will be the only company offering a low-cost remote backup service for very long. What should be interesting to see is how Verio, and other vendors, add additional remote-storage offerings to users in the small-to-midsize business space. As the cost of bandwidth continues to decline, offsite backup and storage solutions such as Remote Backup offer small-business users a cost-effective means to ensure that their data is protected consistently.