I’m in the cloud, do I still need to back up my servers?

Hosting your websites and applications in the cloud is certainly a good move for any business – it lets you reduce your costs and provides you with benefits that you can only dream of with any other web hosting platform. Many cloud platforms claim up-time rates of 100% and the promise of zero data loss and these tactics have meant that their idea of performing backups has fallen by the wayside for many service users. So we’re here to answer the question as to whether you should still perform your own backups, even if your data is held in the cloud.

Any good cloud provider will take regular backups of their cloud environment so that if a catastrophic event does occur that wipes out VMs completely, they can be restored quickly to minimise service disruption. However, this just accounts for VMs as a whole and doesn’t account for the individual files hosted on a VM that are liable for becoming corrupted on their own.

Performing direct backups of the data hosted on your VM is your responsibility and not something that your cloud provider will take responsibility of, so if data on your server does become corrupt then the only way of recovering it is to restore the whole VM image and this could wipe out other data that has been recorded since the backup date.

By taking your own direct backups of the data hosted on your cloud servers, you have the power to quickly and efficiently restore corrupt files individually without having to incur the downtime that you would face with a VM-wide restoration.

The methods that you use to take backups of your data are going to differ depending on your choice of operating system. Windows contains a standard backup tool that will be sufficient for the majority of scenarios, whilst Linux users may choose to use an application such as Rsync to fulfil their needs. In any case it is recommended that you transfer your backups to a remote location in order to guarantee their effectiveness in the event of server failure or file corruption.

So in short, the answer is yes, you do need to have an online backup plan of your servers yourself, even if your cloud provider does take backups of individual VMs. Data security and protection isn’t something that you should rely on others to provide, rather you should see the steps taken by your cloud provider as a second line of defence and your own backups being the first line.