Cloud backup, cloud backup, cloud backup. If you’re following the industry, it’s a term you’ve heard a thousand times. And while there are still some significant downsides to cloud, at the end of the day it’s where things are headed. Sooner or later, the advantages will outweigh the detriments – even if that day hasn’t quite arrived just yet. BackupAssist’s own cloud server backup option, our Offsite Backups add-on, is something we get a lot of interest in. That’s why this week, we’re going to take a look at how you can leverage its rsync cloud backup functionality to improve the overall IT operations of your business.
What is rsync cloud backup?
If you’re familiar with BackupAssist’s Offsite Backups add-on, you already know that the technology underpinning it is rsync. But what exactly is rsync and how does it work?
Perhaps the most succinct possible summary of what rsync actually is comes from the very first sentence of the Wikipedia page on the subject:
“rsync is a widely-used utility to keep copies of a file on two computer systems the same.”
We couldn’t have said it more concisely ourselves. Rsync was originally co-developed for Linux by developers Andrew Tridgell and Paul Mackerras in 1996, before later being ported to Windows and Mac OS, and in a very tight nutshell it works by determining which files differ between sending and receiving machines, before syncing these files so that they become the same. It does this at a bit level data transfer using a checksum method, looking at a file’s size and modification date, and will only transfer altered or appended data within the file. This means that overheads on a network when transferring data are minimized.
Rsync can be used to transfer data to either a private cloud (wherein data is sent to offsite servers owned and operated by the company doing the transfer), or to an rsync-compatible public cloud such as Amazon s3, where the offsite servers are owned and maintained by a third-party cloud storage provider.
BackupAssist not only utilizes rsync, it also improves upon it by offering encryption and single-instance store functionality.
Why perform file-level backups?
Since rsync is at its core a file-based application, this also means that BackupAssist leverages it for our file-level backup engine: File Protection. We’ve spoken before about when you should use file-based backups vs image-based backups, but it’s worth going over it again quickly here. Knowing the best use-scenarios for file-based backups is going to help you optimize how rsync cloud backup can be implemented to improve your IT operations.
The most important thing to remember about file-based backups, is that they cannot be used for bare-metal recovery. That’s why we always recommend using System Protection as your main backup method, and then complementing that with File Protection. It’s that complementary capacity where rsync cloud backups can truly be leveraged to improve the protection of your IT infrastructure.
While you have bare-metal backups onsite, cloud backup also allows you to have critical files and folders offsite as well.
Choosing the right destination
When it comes to rsync cloud backup, choosing the right destination essentially boils down to choosing between establishing your own private cloud configuration, or subscribing to an rsync-compatible public option. There are pros and cons to both methods, so let’s dive right in.
The prime advantage of a private cloud is the ability to custom configure the servers to meet the specific requirements of your business. Because you’re designing the storage destination from the ground up, it allows you to implement and optimize the network security, hardware and storage options according to your business’s specific needs. One main reason why businesses may choose to implement a private cloud option often comes down to regulatory requirements – regulations like HIPAA compliance often cannot be delivered through a public cloud deployment.
Of course, the obvious downside of private cloud is the expense and time concerns involved in maintaining the infrastructure, as well as the initial up-front costs of implementation.
Public cloud’s big advantages are that it generally works on subscription model, based on the amount of storage required. This often works out to be very cost effective for many businesses, particularly when the amounts of data involved are not particularly large. If you’re using a large public cloud vendor such as Amazon, you also have the advantage of the significant resources that such large enterprises can put towards maintaining security and keeping up with advancements in technology.
However, security can also be a downside of public cloud, particularly if you’re user a smaller vendor. There have been numerous examples of cloud services folding or crashing, and users’ data being lost as a result.
If you’re thinking of going down the public cloud route with rsync, you also need to ensure that your chosen vendor is rsync-compatible. One such service that is proven to work well with BackupAssist’s Offsite Backups add-on is Amazon s3. If you’re interested in finding out more about using BackupAssist with Amazon s3, read this article.