Thursday, April 10, 2008

Online Backup any different from Traditional Backup for Laptop/Desktop?

Recently, Beth Pariseau wrote in her blog post HP unveils unlimited online storage for SOHO market that bandwidth is one of the hurdles in adoption of online backup services.
Like most online storage offerings to date, this offering is small in scale and limited in its features when compared with on-premise products. Most analysts and vendors say online storage will be limited by bandwidth constraints and security concerns to the low end of the market, with most services on the market looking a lot like HP Upline.
Though, it is a validation of my thoughts expressed in blog post Bandwidth, one hurdle in adopting Cloud Storage, I am not totally convinced of bandwidth being the root cause of limited adoption. There may be something else hindering adoption of online backup services.

Recently, Scott Waterhouse, an EMC blogger also has been discussing the virtues of Mozy, an online backup service (acquired) by EMC. I agree with his argument about the challenges of traditional backup clients in post Mozy as the Future of Backup.
Big business has a lot of data on laptops and desktops. Traditionally, installing backup clients on these systems has been costly, full of headaches, and generally causes more problems than it solves. The consequence of this is that most folks just don't protect them.
Is Mozy client any different? Is there any difference in installing, configuring, using and maintaining traditional backup client versus Mozy client on laptop/desktop? Nothing, I noticed after reading his posts.

My intention is not to pick on Mozy or Scott but there is nothing unique in most Online Backup Services that couldn't be in traditional backup for laptop/desktop. At least traditional backup also come with peace of mind that all backups are stored on company's own infrastructure. In last few years, I tried over a dozen online backup services in addition to putting up with traditional backup clients for laptop/desktop and I don't see much difference among the two.

IMO, most online backup services are just taking existing on-premise backup strategy for laptops/desktops and repackaging it to run backups to somebody else's infrastructure instead of your own. What do you think?


  1. On the subject of file backup, sharing and storage ...

    Online backup is becoming common these days. It is estimated that 70-75% of all PC's will be connected to online backup services with in the next decade.

    Thousands of online backup companies exist, from one guy operating in his apartment to fortune 500 companies.

    Choosing the best online backup company will be very confusing and difficult. One website I find very helpful in making a decision to pick an online backup company is:

    Have a look here, too:

    This site lists more than 400 online backup companies in its directory and ranks the top 25 on a monthly basis.

  2. Hey there. I work for Carbonite Online Backup and I certainly wouldn't discredit traditional backup, but I do think there are some differences. Having onsite traditional backup is a great idea, but like Scott said, most people don't take the time to back up their files like they should. Also, onsite backup is no good in the event of a fire, flood or other natural disaster (tornado, hurricane, etc). In a theft, an external drive can be stolen just as easily as a laptop or desktop. Therefore, online backup gives you the added protection of storing your files off-site. Those who take the time to use traditional backup can get an extra layer of protection with online backup. For those who don't bother to take the time to use traditional backup methods, at least online backup will do it automatically for them.

  3. Alison,

    Thank you for reading and taking time to comment on my blog.

    The gist of your comment, as I understand is, that most people don't take time to backup due to its being manual "not automatic."

    It has nothing to do with onsite or offsite backup. May be, this explains better acceptance of Time Machine despite being an onsite traditional backup.

    Online backup may provide protection against natural disaster and theft but with two major constraints.

    1. Excessive usage of an already slow "primary" link for backup. Backing up 125GB in three weeks, as Scott did, requires 50% of typical Cable/DSL bandwidth 24x7. And, to backup 1GB of changes/new data requires client to be online for four hours at 50% bandwidth utilization, i.e. subpar customer experience for primary online activity for typical consumer/small business client.

    2. However improbable, in the event of natural disaster/theft, it will be unrealistic for anyone to try restoring all data online. Enter Sneakernet (29 DVDs for Scott's data) and the resulting delays in restore. And while you are recovering life after such an event, where will the tasks of ordering DVDs of your backed up data be in your priority list of things to do.

    BTW, intention of my post is not to differentiate or promote one method from another but to show similarities and question the use of similar architecture and strategy with both type of backups instead of developing "real" BaaS offering.


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  5. The truth is there a million good solutions for backup these days...and each company has its niche..for a house alot of the $5.00 guys are good but for a business you want to make sure that you have an AMERICAN/UK team behind you... you dont want to be transferred to a third party support team in a 3rd world country...we use they are NY based company, with a great product and fair pricing. there are other companies that are good as well, however we have been with them about a yr and time after time we have been happy..

  6. thank you for the suggestion of i have tried them out and we are very happy with them,
    a fellow moti mitteldorf assisted me and was extremly helpful..

  7. Anon, we use Online Backup Vault as well for our offices backup. i agree to what you said regarding Mitteldorf
    However the reason we use is that they have an option called "local backup" with this option you can make a backup locally to a USB or NAS in addition to the offsite. as well what is pretty neat is that it lets you have different retention policies for each job

  8. Hi, after doing a search i came across your blog. My name is Moti Mitteldorf. i am the CTO of &
    i would like to thank you and the bloggers on this site for the warm reviews!!
    Happy new years all!
    Thank you all & god bless!

  9. vendors say online storage will be limited by bandwidth constraints and security concerns to the low end of the market, with most services on the market looking a lot like HP Upline. iSCSI RAID Switch