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6 min read

Ask an IT Guy: How Long Does It Take to Restore From a Cloud Backup?

People have a lot of expectations when it comes to the Cloud. They’ve seen the commercials about how it can save all your data and you can get it back in an instant if you need it. But is that true?

Our CIOs (Chief Information Officers) here at VC3, Inc. have heard their fair share of misleading Cloud “facts." The truth of the matter is that some key factors contribute to your Cloud backup’s ability to perform. 

Jonathan Barger, one of our CIOs, gave us some guidance on realistic expectations about restoring from a Cloud backup.

Is Disaster Recovery From the Cloud a Perfect Solution?

In a word, no. There is no such thing a perfect backup solution. There are, however, ways to make any backup solution less faulty.

There are 6 major things you should consider when picking a backup solution for your business:

  1. Enterprise grade solution – meaning its purpose is for business, not home use.
  2. Establish what needs to be backed up.
  3. How much total data is it?
  4. How often the data needs to be backed up?
  5. Retention: how long do backups need to be available?
  6. How quickly will you need it back in the event of a disaster?

This will help you select the right kind of Cloud solution. Work with your internal IT department or managed IT service provider to make sure your company’s goals are met.

This list above is meant to help put your best foot forward, but restore times can vary significantly.

"Why we only recommend enterprise software comes up a lot with clients. A lot of people are familiar with the very inexpensive Cloud-based backups platforms. Those kinds of companies cost $15/month instead of closer to $500/month. And a common question is why can’t I just use the cheaper one?

Our clients are small to midsize businesses. Companies of that size have hundreds of gigabytes (GB), if not terabytes (TB), of data.

Using a $15/month service that isn't made to handle your server load only hinders your ability to restore from the Cloud. It's important that you use a service that’s grade is made for your needs."

Why Does Bandwidth and Network Capacity Matter When Restoring From the Cloud?

Bandwidth and network capacity are the biggest factors when restoring from the Cloud. Simply put, they determine how fast the backup restore process can occur. 

Let’s break down the math behind bandwidth first: If your bandwidth is 10 Mbps and you are restoring an entire server that is 500 GB, is going to take you about 5 days to download.

Network capacity, on the other hand, is the bandwidth you have internally in your company. How fast you can transfer data to and from one computer to another. Keep in mind that network capacity is usually a lot faster than your internet bandwidth.

Speaking with your IT team, you’ll need to factor in how long your company can wait while restoring.

If 5 days is too long, what are your options?

It is important to factor this information in before considering a Cloud-only backup. If your company requires a significant amount of data to be backed up, it’s recommended to have a local copy of the backup as well as a cloud backup. This way, download times do not affect your restoration time.

"Your best bet is to have the highest value of both upload and download speed for your Internet as possible. We ball park that every user should get about half a gig (GB) of Internet for regular usage.

So, if you have 30 people, you should have at least 15 gigs of Internet.

If you are restoring from the Cloud while people are still using the Internet, things gets tricky. Your network will be incredibly slow while it’s trying to download your backup AND allow your users to be online at the same time.

At the end of the day, your budget is your budget. But if you are using the Cloud as your primary backup and that’s where you’ll need to restore from, you need to have the best Internet possible."

What’s the Difference Between Backup Download Time and Backup Restoration Time?

Another note of confusion is download time vs. restoration time. They sound the same, but are very different.

Downloading your backup does NOT mean that it has been restored. Your bandwidth will determine the speed in which the download can occur. See the example above. Restoration time, on the other hand, has its own set of needs.

Restoration speed is determined by:

  • Having the correct information
  • The amount of data being restored
  • Your network capacity

For Example: A large number of files have been accidentally deleted. To restore those, you’ll need to find the exact date and time the files were deleted. You'll also need the exact location of those files and of course, the file names. Your Cloud backup's most recently saved backup, or the closest backup to that date and time is searched first, in an effort to give you the most continuity. If your backup is continuous you might have only lost 5 minutes of work, if your backup is set for once a day, you might have lost a whole day of work.

Mock Timeline of Restoring Data from the Cloud

  1. Records are reported missing
  2. IT gathers information about the data (time it was deleted, file names, etc.)
  3. Find the best Cloud backup to restore from
  4. Find the files in the Cloud backup and extract them
  5. Download the extracted files from the Cloud
  6. Upload files to the same location they were missing from – Restore complete

IT Insider Note: By having a local copy of your backups at your office or locally offsite, you will not need to download any backups from the internet (the Cloud). This removes any downloading from your restoration process. This can significantly decrease the time it takes to complete a restore.

Sometimes, the Cloud is more like a backup for your backup. Ask your IT department about your options, see what your budget allows, and create a system that supports your company’s needs.

“The backup software we use involves a local hardware backup component in addition to the Cloud. If your internet connection isn’t stellar, which is the case for most companies, it won’t be fast enough to restore the data on your server in a reasonable amount of time. In this case, a local backup is going to be important.”

Unfortunately, I can’t give you time in a finite number. And without MUCH more information, no one can. There are several factors that contribute to restoring your data from a Cloud backup. But working with your IT department, whether they’re in-house or outsourced, you can set your timeline.

If you can’t be down for more than 4 hours, or maybe you can be down for a week - work together to determine what’s best for your business. Then select the right kind of Cloud backup for you.

Think about it like Cinderella, you should find your perfect glass slipper.

Let's talk about how VC3 can help you AIM higher.