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 gains for businesses, but it has some drawbacks.

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

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

Benefits of cloud database backups

Using the cloud to back up databases can help protect against ransomware when the vendor offers immutability. With immutable backups, data is backed up and taken offline, where it cannot be changed. Even if malicious actors used their backup credentials to access the database server and erase the contents, they would be unable to delete immutable cloud-based backups. Even with valid credentials, it would be essentially indelible and read-only for a while.

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

Other benefits to consider around cloud database backups are that depending on the database in question, it becomes entirely possible to set up a new IaaS or SaaS database server and Download the database backup there. In isolation, this may not seem useful, but if the backup administrator plans to failover the database and supporting infrastructure to the cloud, an IaaS or SaaS provider has a clear recovery policy. These resources are also readily available in the cloud, compared to an on-premises database backup that could be lost in the event of a fire or flood.

Disadvantages to watch out for

Along with all of these good things, there are downsides to cloud database backups as well. One of the most troublesome is that as the database grows, the size of the backup and the time it takes to upload it to the cloud also increases. Network connectivity must be strong and backup administrators will need to verify this before an upload. It is also critical to ensure 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.

Keep in mind that there should always be at least three copies of data, according to the 3-2-1 backup rule. A cloud backup is a start but shouldn’t be the only form of backup available. There should be at least two other onsite backup methods, such as disk or tape.

Privacy of downloads can be an issue. Too often, simplicity is replaced by security during backups, and administrators can make the mistake of not enabling database encryption features. Encryption makes it secure in transit and, in the event of data loss, creates a large part of a security incident. It is essential to ensure that data in flight is protected by encryption. Most vendors support encryption, but backup administrators should do their own due diligence.