Symantec’s Backup offering has officially been removed from the market, leaving current customers just one year to migrate to an alternative solution. This generous window of opportunity is not indicative of the cloud industry in general, with companies like Nirvanix typically leaving a much smaller migration window. So what do you do if your backup provider pulls its product from the market?

Firstly, it’s important to recognise the difference between a service being retired and a provider going bust. When a company ceases trading, you no longer deal with that company – you deal with administrators. This usually means you have little to no chance of retrieving your data.

However, if a provider pulls a certain product from the market but continues trading, as in the case with Symantec, they are still your first point of call. This significantly increases your chance of data recovery if the correct processes are in place.

Ideally your provider will have an SLA in place that guarantees the physical return of your data to your on-site premises. Streaming data via the internet should generally be limited to very small volumes; as data grows, the internet actually becomes a very inefficient method of transfer.

Good providers will not only provide your most recent backups but any historical versions too, resulting in large volumes of data being generated. Delivering this via courier guarantees fast and secure retrieval (your data can be tracked in transit), which is important to consider when renegotiating SLAs in future contracts.

Another important consideration to take is how you’ll gain access to your data. Retrieving backup data isn’t like normal ‘live’ or production data. Backups will (or really should be) encrypted, compressed and almost certainly stored in a state specific to the backup software you are using.

It isn’t as easy as driving to the data centre where your data is stored and taking the disks your data is held on. Backup providers run secure, multi-tenant backup systems so the disks themselves will be worthless. You really need the data to be exported from that system.

A good service provider will export that data for you in a way that will keep all of your historic generational backups. You can then take that data to another service provider, ideally using the same technology, and you will be able to carry on without losing your historic backups. In some cases it is possible to import historic versions into a different backup system or use another technology.

If you do want to make a change it is worth bearing in mind that this will take time and you might need a lot of spare storage in the short term for converting backups from one system to another. It also may be necessary to restore all of your data before you are able to back it up again on the new system.

Generally I’d recommend working with a domestic provider who really knows what they’re doing and are committed to providing backup services. You need to know that the service provider is going to be around for as long as you want the service you are buying from them.

Big international conglomerates with lots of different interests are more likely to pull out of under-performing markets or implement strategy changes that negatively affect the service you receive. Specialist providers, on the other hand, tend to be more invested in their offerings and innovate primarily with their domestic market in mind, reducing the likelihood of a product failure and giving you the peace of mind that your backup solution isn’t going anywhere.