Free VS Paid Storage Solutions

What differentiates a free versus a paid cloud storage solution?  You can now get 25GB (up from 5GB) of online storage FREE with Microsoft’s SkyDrive service, so why would you spend hard earned dollars on another service?

One Word – Security

A quality online backup solution should be using very strong encryption (preferably 256-bit AES military-grade) through the entire process.

The Process

The process starts on the source server with the installation of a backup client.  After files are selected and scheduled for backup, copies of those files are encrypted on the source server, BEFORE transit, using an encryption key that is created by and known only to your organization.  The backup client software communicates with cloud storage servers using SSL (Secure Socket Layers) technology. This is the same encryption technology used by Internet browsers when a user enters a secured site. So your data is encrypted twice. It is encrypted at all times using the 256-bit AES encryption, and it is encrypted again while being sent over the Internet.  The data, now “at rest”, remains encrypted and unreadable by anyone, including the storage provider*. It would literally take 1000s of years to crack the data cipher using currently available technology.  Essentially the stored data is impenetrable to anyone without the encryption key.

What Goes Up Must Come Down

Restoration is a reversal of The Process.  The client software pulls the encrypted data back from the cloud over SSL where it is decrypted with your private key directly on the server.  Restorations can be single files, all files, and even specific versions of files (depending on the storage options selected.)

But It’s Free?

With an ad supported free service you might get SSL during transit, but any raw data sent to free service is stored in the format it was sent, unencrypted.  There is no backup client so there is no automation of backup functions.  The automation is you.  Which begs the question, how much money are you really saving if you have to manually select and send the data?  How would that process reliably scale?  How is that any better than any other on-site backup operation that requires fallible human intervention?  Microsoft has very generously provided a huge amount of online space in exchange for your ad viewing eyeballs, but unfortunately their service is better suited to the public sharing of data (February Vacation photos perhaps) rather than a secure commercial backup solution.  But then what did you expect for free?

Incidentally, our MegaBackup cloud storage solution has the same essential security features outlined in this post. 🙂  If you have any questions or doubts about the security of online backup solutions in general give us a call.  Even if you’re looking elsewhere, we would be happy to discuss what you may or may not be getting for your hard earned dollar.  At this point we’ve investigated every major product out there and know all the trade-offs.

Stay safe,

*Optionally, in some circumstances you may want to use an encryption key supplied by the storage provider.  Call us to find out why.

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