Backup to the Cloud – No Excuses

I used to work at a multi-billion dollar organization and, like most organizations that big, they kept backups of all their databases offsite in case some major catastrophe destroyed the data center. There was only one problem with their otherwise excellent plan; the offsite location for the backup tapes was the building next door, a mere 50 yards from the data center. Any disaster spectacular enough to take out the data center would most probably have damaged or leveled the building next door.

When I have been in charge of SQL Server backups, I’ve always made sure that they were stored offsite and far away. Specifically, far enough away that a single disaster couldn’t affect both locations. There are a whole range of options for offsite backup storage, but one of my relatively recent favorites is in the cloud, and nowhere near my production databases. I’ve personally found storing my backups in the cloud to be convenient, reliable, and cost effective. With the availability of these services, there is absolutely no excuse not to have an off-site backup of your databases, assuming you don’t have any other available options.

Naturally, there’s a concern about security and privacy, but if you’re already sending your backup tapes offsite, you’ve already made that leap. And if our options are that, or lose our data completely, I guess we just have to go on trust.

Like any backup solution, I don’t put all of my eggs in one basket. I generally prefer to do local backups, then sweep the backups off individual SQL Servers to a central location, such as a NAS or SAN device at the local data center. Then, I have backups from these devices moved to the cloud. This way, if I need to do a restore quickly, I can get the most recent backup from the local device. But should a disaster destroy my data center, then I have an offsite backup I can use for restoring my SQL Servers.

So, here’s my question for you. Do you have any experience storing SQL Server backups in the cloud, and if so, have they been positive or negative?