You say you have a cloud-based network? That’s great! You say your Windows Cloud Server helps you to enjoy compute resources without having to own or manage the hardware? Awesome! But here’s something to keep in mind – Your cloud-based solution probably doesn’t automatically back up your business-critical data. Seriously.

That means you need to have an intentional backup plan – whether you have an on-premise, cloud or a hybrid network – if you hope to keep your business running after an unexpected failure or disaster.

In a traditional solution, you would have to keep an on-site back up – and possibly even an off-site one if you’re smart – to ensure your data was safe. But in the cloud it means keeping a digital back up on the same cloud services provider network – albeit on a different VM – and replicating that same data to a backup file on a cloud storage site.

How can you know which backup plan is best for you?

The most important thing to understand is simply this: You need to have a plan. A wise man once said, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Or something like that. At any rate, he was right about one thing. Without a plan you’re toast.

What you need to know:

Your IaaS provider only insures the infrastructure and hardware are redundant and well maintained. That means they don’t necessarily insure you’re your data will be saved if you experience an unexpected failure or loss of data. Without a plan, you’ve got a problem.

You have to plan and budget for resources dedicated to your back up. So, it won’t be easy, and it won’t be free. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a hassle or expensive either.

You should schedule backups based on the frequency of the change in your data. At least once per day is what most small business-owners should strive for. Twice a day (once in the afternoon and once at the end of the day) is optimal. But, no one knows your data better than you do. Or they shouldn’t, anyway. Make a data backup schedule and stick to it.

Your back up involves files (configuration, media, documents etc) and databases. The biggest mistake you can make is to back up one group of files and ignore others. Try merging those back together after your files get corrupted and you’ll learn quickly why it’s crucial to back up everything all at once. Trust me.

Your IaaS provider will insure that hardware is available at all times to meet your compute requirements. Most providers offer bundles or resources or packages that enable you to back up your Windows VM. Those are probably good enough for what you’ll need, unless you’re starting to experience longer data transfer times, and then maybe it’s time to look for something on the enterprise level.

For small to midsize server needs, cheaper options are available. For example, you can also use a Windows cloud server on standby.

Keep in mind: One often overlooked resource is bandwidth. To keep things running smooth, always monitor (and budget) for bandwidth utilization, especially as data is replicated through public IP space.

What About Shared Environments?

Glad you asked! The best back up option for Windows VM in shared environments depends on how important the server is and how much down time you can afford (which is probably not very much).

I recommend you set up a VM or two just for backups. Of course, you can always replicate your data on online services like Dropbox and Google drive. Your call.

Big Tip: Always choose private IP space if available to back up data to local cloud storage. Why? Because it may save you a bundle on bandwidth charges. That’s why.

Let’s Review

Without a backup strategy you’re living on borrowed time. Don’t play dice with your data. Having a backup strategy is the most important decision you will make for your Windows environment. By planning ahead – and with some level of granularity and forecasting – you can save yourself thousands of dollars online. Yeah. That’s a lot.

Short version: Cloud servers are great tools that should be part of your overall strategy, but they shouldn’t be your only strategy.

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