In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit millions of people and companies across the east coast of the United States. The damage caused by the storm meant that many people suffered from lost and damaged of personal or business assets, including invaluable corporate data.

One example of the extreme losses caused by the natural disaster was a business based in the metropolitan area. It had minimised the risks by setting up a redundant site for its disaster recovery, long before the hurricane. But little did it know that its alternative server location used as the recovery site, was also impacted by the natural disaster. A very unfortunate example of Murphy’s Law, but a clear sign that traditional backup and disaster recovery strategies can be flawed.

It’s clear companies need to look at a broader strategy. Cloud is one solution that can play a key role in strengthening a company’s data protection strategy, and here is why:

1. Cloud offers an extra or alternative location to ensure recovery in case of an event

As the example from Hurricane Sandy shows, situations can arise in which the risks of losing or recovering your data could be minimised by using cloud backup for your disaster recovery. As natural disasters are unpredictable, business need to evaluate and reconsider the location of their backup sites and cloud datacenters.

2. Recovery of the last backup – keep the backup windows to a minimum

If disaster occurs, IT managers will require the latest snapshot of the server, whether it is an application server or fileserver and then load it on to a new server to get the organisation up and running. The backup windows determine the loss of data that occurred between the time of the last backup and the date and time of the system failure. Backup windows for tape can be up to days or week, while companies can setup their cloud back up windows to hours or less.

3. Connection issues

Once a system fails, the IT department will put all its efforts into recovering the server(s) to keep the downtime to a minimum. In the example here, even if the alternative site had not been affected, it would have been difficult to access the data as the whole area was suffering from connectivity issues. Using cloud ensures that data backups can be accessed from anywhere and recovered to a chosen location – for example a site in another country where the impacted company is also present – making disaster recovery more flexible and effective.

4. Removing the need to manually prioritise data

Nearly every IT manager has faced the issue of running out of disk space. If this happens with a disk or tape based solution, the common option is to temporarily prioritise which data needs to be backed up. Allocating space is a timely task but needs to be done to ensure that backups of critical files or systems can still be made. This IT headache can be simply avoided with the cloud, as users never run out of space.

With natural disasters happening all over the globe and unfortunately more frequently, companies need to revaluate and rethink backup and disaster recovery strategies in order to protect valuable data in worst-case scenarios.

Cloud is becoming an increasingly powerful and effective technology when it comes to improving backup and recovery practices. The clear benefits make it a no-brainer for businesses of all sizes and industries when it comes to protecting valuable corporate data.