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Why your MSP business should offer Offsite Data Backup to clients

Data BackupAsk the owner of most any Small Business if their critical data is backed up and they’ll say “Yes”.

But it’s often the case that what a client might consider adequate backup, and what we – as IT Solution Providers and Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) – consider adequate backup are two entirely different things!

Tape Backup

For instance, it’s not unusual to find a client still using DLT or DAT Tape backups. While tape technology is a little dated, it’s still a viable backup method if you have a proper backup strategy in place – swapping tapes on a daily basis, checking for issues and archiving off data regularly.

Sadly, most clients will delegate the responsibility for these backups to someone who often views the task as a low priority – how many office managers or receptionists have forgotten to change the server backup tape as they’ve been running out of the office on a Friday evening?

Disk to Disk Backup

Then there’s the modern equivalent of tape – the USB Hard Drive.

The rise of cheap external USB Hard Disks mean that many SMB’s have a drive that they keep plugged into a server, backing up data each night. Or there is the “advanced” version of this method, where USB Hard Disks are rotated in and out – one disk being taken off-site whilst another is plugged in to capture the latest backup.

Again the question has to be asked though – how many times has the employee responsible for changing the drive sprinted out of the door on a Friday evening without changing the drive?

The Backup Problem for MSP’s

My experience as the former owner of an MSP tells me that ANY backup process that involves manual intervention is destined to fail.

Let me re-phrase that to be more specific – Any regular data backup process that requires a Human Being WILL fail. [TWEET THIS]

It’s also my experience that in working with an MSP, most business owners abdicate responsibility for backups and assume that “it” – a disaster which results in them losing their critical data – is best dealt with by thinking:-

a – it will never happen to me

b – if it  does happen to me, then my MSP has it covered

c – it’s happened to me. “%$^#! You’ve got this covered, right? What do you mean you don’t have my data? Can’t you just buy a new computer from PC World?”

The Solution? Off-Site Backup

As an MSP, you are held responsible for the well being of your clients data – whether you like that reality or not.

You can monitor and manage clients on-site data backup process – but you’ll spend a lot of costly time and effort doing so.

Even if you tell your client that they have inadequate data backup in place, guess who they’ll turn to if things go wrong?

Conclusion

All businesses now have an everyday need of data protection and the best way your MSP business can meet this client need is to incorporate some level of automated off site data protection into your backup strategies for clients.

In my next blog post I’ll take a look at the options for MSP’s offering off site data backup – which types of backup are best suited for different clients – and how they can help you grow your MSP businesses recurring revenue and reduce your on-going costs of support.

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Richard Tubb

I help IT companies grow their businesses in a scalable and sustainable way. My clients are business owners of small to medium sized IT firms. at Tubblog
Why not find out more about how I can help your business. You can also check which events you can find me at or read one of my books.

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Comments

  1. What’s the difference between cloud hosting and off-site backups? After reading your article I got to wondering if off-site backups are necessary any more. If I were to use a cloud drive to store all my data, and that cloud drive is properly backup up, then do I also need to continue with my own off-site backups? I still do a local backup because it is the quickest way to restore should the worse happen.

    • Carl – “Cloud” backups are essentially off-site backups, the “off-site” portion merely being the Cloud. Most MSP’s refer to off-site rather than Cloud backups because they may backup to their own “private Cloud” – a DataCentre or indeed a server hosted in their own offices.

  2. Nice article. At the end you say, “In my next blog post I’ll take a look at the options for MSP’s offering off site data backup.” but I cannot find the described post. Can you put a link for it here?

    • Thanks for the kind words Jeff! Ahh – you noticed my “deliberate” (ahem!) mistake. I’ve not actually published the 2nd part of this blog post yet I’m afraid! You can subscribe to the blog posts via email (see top right hand corner of this screen for sign-up box) to be alerted when I do post it, and I’ll update this article with a link too. Thanks for your patience Jeff. :-)

  3. Robert Ford says:

    Hey Richard, nice article. Would you suggest MSPs to host the data by themselves or to use cloud storage like Amazon S3 and Google Cloud Storage? I’ve switched from hosting data myself to using cloud storage since 2013 because I’m tired of maintaining those hardware and datacenter facilities. Nowadays the cloud storage cost is just around $0.03 per GB per month. This move allowed me to lower my price significantly and yet still able to make good profit. Products like Cloudberry Lab and CloudBacko which are primarily design for making use of Amazon S3 and Google Cloud Storage as backup destinations also make my life so much easier. Therefore, I would say backing up to the cloud is the trend and those who are still hosting their customers data should really switch to using cloud storage. Just my 2 cents.

    • Robert – that’s a really good question. In most instances I suggest cloud storage from the “Why reinvent the wheel?” perspective. With that said, I see plenty of MSP’s who tell me their clients like the idea of their local IT business protecting and storing their data rather than it being stored in the Cloud.

      If that statement is true, and SMB’s do want their data stored with a trusted local partner – then the business case for building your own storage facility rather than use the Cloud is there.

      Great question, thanks for asking!

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