While it’s common for organizations to perform periodic backup or snapshots for data protection and recovery, many don’t copy those backups offsite for disaster recovery (DR) purposes. Onsite backup makes recovering lost or damaged data quick and easy, but what happens if your storage device fails in the case of disk to disk backup? And if you’re using tape for backup like many organizations, what happens if tapes themselves are lost or damaged, or even stolen?

Many IT organizations make copies of their backups to removable media and then physically transport that media to a remote location or even a third-party site like Iron Mountain or another service provider.

But physical media copy and transport is a costly, time-consuming and risky process. To start with, you need to run the copy process and purchase additional media and drives. Then you have to physically transport that media to a remote site and have a place and system to safely store and retrieve them. Removable disk media and tapes can be easily lost or damaged, and in a worse-case scenario, they can be stolen right from the vehicle being used for transport.

But there is a better solution.

Data replication technology is used today by many organizations to more easily and safely copy backups offsite. This solution enables you to run your backups and then securely replicate that data right over the wide area network (WAN) to any remote site, including an MSP’s private cloud or public clouds like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Windows Azure. The process runs on your backup server so there’s no impact to your production servers. Plus, replication technology is designed to be WAN optimized for efficiency. Replication technology is available in many forms, including host-based software, storage area network (SAN)-based systems, and appliances.

One advantage of a host-based solution is that data can be protected data wherever it is stored—including direct attached storage (DAS), network attached storage (NAS) and SAN. SAN solutions only protect data stored on the SAN device and typically require a second SAN device for the replica system which can add significant complexity and cost. Host-based replication software can be used on Windows, Linux and UNIX systems and provides protection for both physical and virtual servers. Plus, you can use any storage device for your replica system. There is no distance limitation with most host-based replication software which means your DR site can be located across town, across the state or across the country.

And now, with the rise of public clouds like AWS and Microsoft Windows Azure, organizations that don’t have their own remote facilities or disaster recovery site can send copies of their backups offsite for DR. Contracting with a service provider has many benefits including being able to use operational budgets (OPEX) instead of capital budgets (CAPEX), especially useful for financially constrained organizations. You also get a full-service facility that’s staffed and managed by a third-party. Just make sure you understand where your data is stored, as well as the security and service level agreement they offer.

What’s holding you back?

With all the replication technology options, as well as the MSP and cloud providers available to IT organizations, there’s no reason to leave your critical data unprotected. Whether you perform backup multiple times a day, once a day, or once a week, replicating those backups to a secure offsite location will give you peace of mind—especially when dealing with a true a disaster like fire or flood. But you’ll also be protected against more ordinary issues like tape failure, theft, or even a disgruntled employee.