What is Hardware Backup?

Learn about hardware backup to decide which is best for YOUR organization.

Backup Hardware Solutions

Hardware backup is classic. Hard to find anybody today who has not at least heard of the concept itself. Essentially, a backup storage device makes copies of actively used data. Data contained within the primary storage has redundancy supported by backup devices, which guarantees that the original contents should be accessible for recovery in case of a storage medium failure.

Due to their simplicity and affordability, hardware backups have dominated the market for dozens of years. The precise nature of hardware devices used for storage has varied over time, depending on technological development. Originally, tapes were the best choice for backups. Over time they have been replaced by much more capable and cheaper hard disk drives. Now we are seeing flash beginning to creep up in popularity vs. HDDs.

Hardware vs. Cloud Backup

In practice, ever since cloud backup emerged, it has changed the game completely. Today, most organizations opt to utilize cloud backup, leaving hardware options to those cases when specific requirements must be met. Yet, many businesses still spend extra time maintaining hardware backups and rely on them for security reasons.

Admittedly, to navigate your enterprise in the ever-changing world of backup, you’d better decide which storage you need more. Let’s look at what both sides can offer.

Hardware Backup

Hardware backup solutions naturally have both advantages and disadvantages. The relative easiness and fast performance are confronted by the inevitable safety issues of storing data on a physical device:

Safety
Pros: Nobody will argue that sometimes hardware backups can be much more secure than remote backups, which often fall victim to cybercrime. If you store your backups locally, the danger of a ransomware attack threatening your personally secured infrastructure is one less thing to worry about. Cons: Unfortunately, while hardware backups are safe from ransomware attacks, nobody said there are no other dangers. There are such things as fire, flood, or trivial theft, which can easily threaten the overall security of your entire environment. Hardware backups have their benefits, but it is also true that they require a lot of attention to guarantee their relative physical safety, at least to some extent.
Affordability
Pros: It may not seem that way, but in many cases maintaining hardware backups is actually becoming cheaper than relying on the cloud. Expanding your hardware backups requires a one-time purchase of a fixed amount of equipment for a fixed price, whereas there is a monthly subscription with cloud backup that can increase or decrease as the vendor decides. In the long run, the former often costs less than the latter. Cons: The traditional downside of hardware backups in comparison with cloud backups is that purchasing hardware backups is more of an investment that may take time to make a difference in your finances. Although monthly subscriptions indeed often turn more pricey eventually, the upfront cost for hardware backups is definitely higher. There is also an issue of replacing the equipment in the case of failure, which requires an additional budget.
Performance
Pros: Even though the internet speed limits are growing all the time, hardware backup still has a lot to offer in terms of speed and performance. Since hardware options don’t usually require access to the internet whatsoever, the rate of data transfer is genuinely hard to match. Cons: Although reliable and fast, hardware backups are often considered to be quite a headache in terms of maintenance. In order to secure your physical backups, tons of manual actions are required. The main problem with this issue is that it is rarely possible to automate everything. That’s why keeping hardware backups up and running takes up a lot of your time.

Cloud Backup

As time goes on, technology does too. Today, cloud backup is a go-to choice for numerous small organizations. To discuss this option, it needs to be defined that there is a clear and strict difference between storage and backup when we are talking about the cloud.

Industry giants such as Amazon offer online backup services to millions of users worldwide, which is pretty impressive. However, while some companies provide excellent cloud storage options, there are always pros and cons for every situation.

Let’s take a closer look.

Safety
Pros: While cloud backups have a certain level of vulnerability to ransomware attacks, many cloud backup platforms have built-in safety functionalities at the software level. For example, data is usually automatically encrypted, which makes it infinitely harder for cybercriminals to access it. Mirroring data across various locations for data to be recovered in case of failure at the hardware level is another common practice. Cons: The huge downside of cloud backup security measures is that they are entirely out of your hands. In matters of safety, a cloud backup user has no other choice but to rely on a vendor. If the cloud backup service provider takes their time and dedicated effort to ensure the security of their platform, your files will be protected from the most common forms of attack. Otherwise, they are vulnerable to multiple dangers, especially if data encryption is not included in the package or if your cloud service account is compromised.
Affordability
Pros: Cloud backups are a perfect choice for organizations struggling financially. The upfront price of a monthly subscription allows for utilizing backups with total efficiency. It is times cheaper than purchasing, configuring, and maintaining hardware backups. It is an excellent option for those lacking the necessary starting capital for building hardware backup infrastructure from scratch. Sometimes, vendors go to such lengths as offering free usage of cloud backups up to a fixed space limit. Cons: The issue of prices with cloud backups depends totally on your own personal preferences. Naturally, buying a monthly subscription is so much cheaper and easier than bothering yourself with hardware backups. The latter usually need more money and human involvement to run and maintain them. On the other hand, paying a fixed amount of money than regularly paying a service fee may turn out to be more beneficial financially – that is, if you can afford it.
Performance
Pros: Hardware backups usually need a medium to restore files. Such complexity is not the issue with cloud backups because, in the latter case, any device connected to the internet will perfectly do. Such functionality makes it easier to work without being chained to the necessity of using hardware backup devices. You can even run backups automatically, which frees up much time for your IT staff to direct their attention to more pressing issues. Cons: The very benefit of cloud backups simultaneously becomes their biggest disadvantage when it comes to huge chunks of data to back up. The necessity of using an internet connection also means that they just as well consume bandwidth. Therefore, backing up a large amount of information may actually slow down the whole network, interrupting a lot of workloads. That makes it practically impossible for users to work efficiently until the process is complete.

 

Since we have mentioned hardware data backup devices, it would be better to discuss them more profoundly.

Hardware Data Backup Devices

If you’re backing up your data locally, the first thing for you to do is to pick your hardware backup device or backup media of choice, be it tape drives, optical drives, or SD cards. Deciding which is better for your infrastructure is the most crucial thing in this whole process.

Tape

Tape backup drives are the eternal classics. Simple in use, relatively cheap, and infinitely reliable, you can restore data quickly after years of storage. In some specific cases, tape backups may be widely used even today.

Optical Storage

Any user not affiliated with business IT infrastructures recognizes these hardware data backup devices. When using CDs or Data is written on the optical disk when using CDs or DVDs. They are cheap, expendable, and remain popular in local usage.

SD Cards

Another piece of technology popular among everyday users are SD cards. These devices are mainly used for storing documents, pictures, videos, etc. More expensive than optical storage, they are also more flexible. While helpful in many aspects, SD cards are hardly fit for backup.

Flash drives

Flash drives utilize non-volatile memory. They are plug-and-play hardware data storage devices used mainly to exchange personal information. Transferring and storing data from one device to another is extremely easy. However, flash drives are usually not recommended for different computers since they easily transport viruses.

NAS

We have already discussed one of the main differences in setting object-based storage apart from its counterparts: data volumes are maintained and managed as objects, not blocks or files. What makes object format so easy to use is the descriptive properties contained within those objects.

HDD and SSD

These are the most popular and familiar hardware data backup devices in virtually any environment. Hard disk drives (HDDs) are famous among private and corporate users. These come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Users can store different dimensions of information on other HDDs, whether megabytes or terabytes. Although they are easy to use (connect it to your device and perform a backup), HDDs are also vulnerable to physical damage. Unlike their predecessors, solid-state drives (SSDs) are better in everything, including speed, performance, and reliability. However, they are also predictably more pricey. Even though the costs are slowly decreasing, storage devices with SSDs will cost more upon storage expansion.

If you are interested in discovering how to realize the potential of hardware data backup devices to their fullest, you are welcome to take a look at our product page.

What’s Right for Your Business?

As you have seen, there are multiple backup options, whether cloud or hardware. It is impossible to provide a definite formula or algorithm fit for any environment since each environment is different and has different needs. If you prioritize security above everything and have enough resources to support it, hardware backup may be a choice to go. Cloud backup can work fine if your organization is starting and struggling financially. The best backup option for your infrastructure depends entirely on your needs.

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