Offsite Backups: Mastering Disaster Recovery—Part 2

off-site backup

In the previous article, I wrote about the seven levels of disaster recovery. Read it here for more context. Mastering Disaster Recovery – Part 1: Seven Levels

The first level of disaster recovery is to back up data to a magnetic tape or disk drive stored offsite. In this blog, I will provide a quick overview of offsite backups.

Offsite Backups

The goal of offsite backups is to store data in a different location from its origin. Make a copy of the data sent over the network to an offsite storage medium. Offsite storage media include tape, network-attached storage (NAS), or a cloud storage solution. The storage of offsite data is also known as vaulting.

Data is crucial for any organization, but what happens when disaster strikes the main data center? This is where offsite backups become essential. They provide a secure and accessible alternative to keep your data safe. Let’s explore how offsite backups work and why they’re so important for protecting your data.

Core Propositions for Offsite Backups

Protection against complete system failures

If a disaster or a cyberattack hits the main office, we can use offsite backups to get everything back up and running. This way, we keep the business going no matter what happens.

Data can be lost not just because of system crashes but also if the hardware, like hard drives, breaks down. Hard drives don’t last forever and can stop working, causing data loss and expensive delays. Drives with moving parts break down faster than those with flash memory, but all types have a limit on how much they can be used. Offsite backup in a different location is a good way to protect against losing data if a hard drive fails.


The geographical separation of data in offsite backups is a critical aspect of a robust data protection strategy. By storing data in a location physically distant from the primary site, best offsite backups provide a vital safeguard against local disasters such as fires, floods, earthquakes, or even man-made events like theft or vandalism. This separation ensures that, even if a catastrophic event were to completely compromise the primary business location and its on-site backups, the offsite data remains unaffected and secure.

Better security

In the case of tape backups and optical disc backups, storage media can be kept in isolation with physical security in place. Tapes are physically durable and immune to cyber threats, making them reliable for disaster recovery, especially when stored offsite. Cloud storage solutions, on the other hand, provide features like immutability (write once, read many—WORM), which prevent data from being overridden or deleted.

For example, in the case of a ransomware attack on the on-site backup of an organization, offsite backups provide the required levels of immutability and physical isolation to ensure that the business can continue.

Optimization of Space

Offsite backups ensure that your primary disks are not being utilized by backups. This saves space and would require fewer space upgrades to the storage array. Storing critical files of the operating system and applications ensures that the primary server runs smoothly. Offsite backups using cloud storage and tape offer cost-effective solutions compared to traditional on-site backups.

Storage Destinations for Offsite backups

Network Attached Storage (NAS)

Network Attached Storage (NAS) is a popular storage solution. Linux and Windows operating systems by default allow network file storage and mounting capabilities. Protocols like Network File Share (NFS) and Storage Message Block (SMB) are used to mount storage. Backup applications either mount the storage onto a local file system or session mount for data transfer. It’s relatively easy to set up and is cost-effective since no additional infrastructure is required. The network connection between two environments at different locations is the only requirement. The costs associated with network peering and management might be high.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage stands out for its minimal upfront costs and flexible scalability. Users pay only for the storage they use, with the ability to easily adjust as needs change, avoiding the high initial investment in hardware and infrastructure required for on-site backups. Additionally, cloud providers handle maintenance, security, and infrastructure management, significantly reducing operational and maintenance costs.

Tape Storage

Tape backups, while requiring some initial investment in tapes and drives, are more affordable than establishing a full on-site data center. They are particularly cost-effective for long-term archival storage due to their low cost per unit of storage and long shelf life. Tapes also don’t require energy for data storage, which further reduces ongoing costs. Tapes are physically durable and immune to cyber threats, making them reliable for disaster recovery, especially when stored offsite.


Implementation of offsite backups is more than just a safety measure; it’s an essential component of the disaster recovery plan. By using offsite data storage, organizations can safeguard against a spectrum of risks, from natural disasters to sophisticated cyber threats.

The utilization of cloud and tape storage options not only enhances data security but also offers a cost-effective and scalable solution to traditional on-site methods. This approach not only ensures business continuity in adverse scenarios but also contributes to the overall efficiency and resilience of the IT infrastructure.

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