What are your cloud backup responsibilities?

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Although your cloud provider makes backups, it is not responsible for your data. Are you taking the necessary precautions?

Creating backups is crucial for individuals and businesses alike. Many rely on cloud backups to keep our data safe. However, the majority have the wrong idea of how these backups work and whether their data is actually covered. So, who is responsible for data backups in the cloud?

Protect your data.

Protecting your data is very important and it can be lost in many ways. An email can be deleted, project management files can go missing, and an important spreadsheet can sit on someone else’s laptop. While many data threats are mundane, such as a broken device or accidental deletion – there are more insidious risks, such as ransomware or hostile employees who delete essential files.

To protect your data, you need to make frequent backups. Doing so with on-site storage, such as an external drive or network-attached storage (NAS), can be clumsy or expensive, and so many organisations rely on cloud backups. This approach is excellent and often part of a good backup strategy (ideally, you want at least two copies of your most crucial data).

But not all cloud backups mean the same thing.

Even though over half of us use cloud backups to store our data, only 12 percent use proper cloud backups. The rest of us rely on our cloud services for backups, but PaySpace Director and Co-founder, Clyde van Wyk says this is a mistake!

“Good cloud services make frequent data backups. At PaySpace we run frequent backups that are intended to maintain the overall service and ensure we don’t lose client data. But they don’t necessarily facilitate easy recovery of specific files or data objects. The data isn’t retained for periods that would support an organisation’s compliance or risk-mitigation requirements. This is important because a lot of people overlook this. They think that, because you store data in a cloud service, that cloud service takes care of their backup needs and this is rarely the case.”

 Cloud responsibility vs Personal responsibility.

For backups, there are two types of cloud services. The one is a cloud backup service provider, whose job is to create and store backups for your data. The other is any other cloud service, which you access, and they create backups to maintain that service.

A cloud backup service will provide features such as long-term storage, multiple data snapshots, and easy backup and restore tools. The cloud backup service should complement a client’s backup policies. For example, if you need to keep data for tax records, a cloud backup provider can retain that data for a multi-year retention period.

Other cloud services create backups based on their operational needs. For example, PaySpace uses Microsoft’s Azure infrastructure to create backups every few minutes. If anything goes wrong, the platform can quickly recover and start operating again. However, these backups are not necessarily archived or compatible with client backup strategies.

“The job of a cloud service’s backups is to guarantee uptime. A cloud-based email service creates backups that can recover the service if something goes wrong. But if you accidentally delete an email and need to recover it a month later, they are unlikely to have the processes and data retention to help you. That’s not the purpose of their backups.”

 What is your backup responsibility?

A good cloud-native service will retain data in the short term to ensure service delivery.

But if you delete a file on your side or ransomware locks your systems, you cannot expect the cloud service provider to restore that data. This is not the core focus, and these services are unlikely to have the processes or long-term retention policies to support such a recovery. This is the real difference between a cloud service and a cloud backup service.

“Your data in a service is safe, but it is not stored in a way that acts as a backup system for your business. This concept is commonly called the Shared Responsibility Model. The cloud provider is responsible for uptime and will do backups according to that goal. The user is responsible for data retention and must create regular backups through a plan that fits their needs. Just because something is in the cloud doesn’t mean it counts as a backup.” – Clyde van Wyk, Director and Co-founder at PaySpace.

Here are some tips to ensure you keep your data is safe:

  • Apply the Shared Responsibility Model – a cloud provider’s support states that your data remains your
  • Create a backup plan that specifies which data needs backing up and how frequently.
  • Do not assume a cloud service creates backups you can use if it’s not their primary purpose.
  • Sharepoint, Google Drive, and similar file sharing/storage are not designed for proper backups.
  • Use a reputable and specialised cloud-native backup provider to create data copies.