Highly Reliable Systems: Removable Disk Backup & Recovery

A Cost Comparison of Cloud Backup versus Local

By Kelley Kirtley

We are firm believers that cloud backup makes sense to get data offsite with minimal hassle.  But there are times when local backup with removable disk drives makes more sense financially.  We were curious how a popular business backup service would stack up with someone who was willing to do backups in house and rotate the drives themselves.  So we decided to do a cost comparison of cloud backup versus local backup. For this comparison, we assumed a very small company with a single server that had 1TB of data.  This large data set would typically exist in an engineering firm, doctor with photos of patients (xrays etc), or a video production house.  The actual cost depends upon the assumptions (number of servers, rate of data fill etc).  We used a copy of world class server backup software from StorageCraft and 5 individual media trays rotated in a 1TB NetSwap Plus appliance.  By adding dynamic support contracts for 3 years, we insure the end user would not incur any additional costs. This Netswap Plus system with ShadowProtect would give the user a continuous incremental backup, with the ability to swap point in time drives periodically (Automatic Mirroring Technology).

Over 95% of the time you will want your restore to be done from a local copy.  While its true that you don’t have a real disaster recovery strategy if you don’t include an offsite copy, the difference between restoring an entire server from a local appliance and doing so from online is huge.  Recovery time with a local appliance is measured in hours instead of months for 1TB of data.  This factor alone may influence the decision towards a local solution – or at least a hybrid solution where both local and cloud copies are created.

There is more to this story.   Most lower end Internet connections such as DSL or cable have limited upload speed. We know that initially getting 1TB to the cloud is all but impractical because it would take 132 days working continuously with a typical 768Kpbs DSL upload speed.  Not to mention that during this entire 4.4 months the Internet would be unusable for anything else.  So we throw in the cost of a seed drive as shown on Mozy’s website.   The spreadsheet also has to account for the cost of bandwidth, which will be a factor in this scenario.  In fact, the speed is so limited that many businesses find that to have a practical cloud backup strategy they need to bump up their connection to deal with it.  At a very minimum this upgrade would cost $40 per month but a more typical upgrade of at least 512Kbps we’ve assumed will cost the business $100 per month.  As you can see, over the 3 year lifespan of the hardware, the customer saves a whopping $14,106.00 on hard costs of backup.  For that kind of savings, it may be worth swapping drives or using the NetSwap Plus and SpeedSeed to replicate to another local site.


3 Responses to A Cost Comparison of Cloud Backup versus Local

  1. Kiran says:

    I like your table that shows cost comparison.

    MozyPro is expensive. Why not try to compare with inexpensive cloud backup providers. For example, Storage Guardian charges as little as $50 per TB; there are many others who are inexpensive.

    • Darren McBride Darren McBride says:

      Good suggestion Kiran. We’ll take a look at it. We know services like Amazon S3 that are only 10cents per gig and you’re right that changes the equation. But the one thing we looked for was: Support for exchange and SQL, as well as active directory backup. It’s important to compare “server” based backup that includes the software, not just the storage. One thing you’ll see if you look at those cheaper services is they are often for big amounts of data, but only for personal or workstation use. Many times the software is file based and isn’t robust enough to backup true enterprise Microsoft environments, even if they are SMALL enterprise environments. The goal would be to restore a complete server environment, including user names, passwords (active directory) as well as open databases such as exchange and SQL

  2. Ken Smith says:

    I’m confused on your table, are you purchasing the netswap unit again in year 2 and 3? shouldn’t the first year include the cost of the device, and then in year 2 and 3 costs would be lower without including the initial investment.

    Also, We use storagecraft with Highly-Reliable devices for local backup/recovery and bundle off-site replication for $0.50/gig in Top Tier data center.

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