How to get the most out of cloud database backups

Backup should be the top priority for a system administrator, and database backup is no different. Cloud database backup offers useful benefits for businesses, but it does have some drawbacks.

The cloud is a popular backup destination for files. It is a reliable, secure and accessible place to store data. Creating databases in the cloud can not only keep them secure, but also available in the event of a crisis.

Backing up databases to the cloud is one of the best ways administrators can ensure good backup and recovery on a tight budget. Most cloud providers use a consumption-based model, so organizations pay for what they use rather than stock up on hardware they may not need. However, along with the benefits of the cloud, database backups can also face common pitfalls in the cloud.

Benefits of Cloud Database Backups

Using the cloud to back up databases can help protect against ransomware when the provider offers immutability. With immutable backups, data is backed up and taken offline, where it cannot be changed. Even if the bad actors used your backup credentials to get into the database server and delete the content, they would not be able to delete the immutable cloud-based backups. Even with valid credentials, it would be essentially unerasable and read-only for a period of time.

Using the cloud to back up databases can help protect against ransomware when the provider offers immutability.

Other benefits to consider around cloud database backups is that depending on the database in question, it is entirely possible to install a new IaaS or SaaS database server and upload the backup of the database on it. In isolation, it may not sound useful, but if the backup administrator plans to fail over the database and supporting infrastructure to the cloud, an IaaS or SaaS provider has a clear recovery policy. These resources are also available in the cloud, compared to an on-site database backup that could be lost in a fire or flood.

Inconvenients to consider

With all these good things, there are also downsides to cloud database backups. One of the most problematic is that as the database grows, so does the size of the backup and the time it takes to upload it to the cloud. Network connectivity should be strong and should be verified by backup administrators prior to an upload. Also key is ensuring that in the event of a disaster, the organization can access and obtain a copy of the cloud database backup in time to meet recovery requirements.

Note that there should always be at least three copies of data, in accordance with the 3-2-1 backup rule. A cloud backup is a start, but it shouldn’t be the only form of backup available. There must be at least two other backup methods on site, such as disk or tape.

Confidentiality of uploads may be a concern. Too often, simplicity is traded for security when backing up, and administrators can make a mistake and not enable database encryption features. Encrypting it makes it secure in transit, and in the event of data loss, it creates much of a security incident. It is essential to ensure that data in transit is protected by encryption. Most vendors provide support for encryption, but backup administrators must do their own due diligence.

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