Mastering Disaster Recovery - Part 2 : Off-site Backups

Mastering Disaster Recovery - Part 2 : Off-site Backups

In the previous article, I wrote about the seven levels of disaster recovery. Read it here for more context: Mastering Disaster Recovery - Part 1 : Seven Levels

The first level of disaster recovery is to back up data to a magnetic tape or disk drive stored off-site. In this blog, I will provide a quick overview of off-site backups.

Off-site Backup

The goal of offsite backup is to store data in a different location from its origin. Make a copy of the data over the network to an off-site storage media. Off-site storage media includes tape, network-attached storage (NAS), or a cloud storage solution. The storage of off-site data is also known as vaulting.

Data is crucial for any organization, but what happens when disaster strikes the main data center? This is where off-site backups become essential. They provide a secure and accessible alternative to keep your data safe. Let's explore how off-site backups work and why they're so important for protecting your data.

Core Propositions for Off-site Backups

Protection against complete system failures

If a disaster or a cyber attack hits the main office, we can use off-site backups to get everything back up and running. This way, we keep the business going no matter what happens.

Data can be lost not just because of system crashes, but also if the hardware, like hard drives, breaks down. Hard drives don't last forever and can stop working, causing data loss and expensive delays. Drives with moving parts break down faster than those with flash memory, but all types have a limit on how much they can be used. Off-site backup in a different location is a good way to protect against losing data if a hard drive fails.


The geographical separation of data in off-site backups is a critical aspect of a robust data protection strategy. By storing data in a location physically distant from the primary site, off-site backups provide a vital safeguard against local disasters such as fires, floods, earthquakes, or even man-made events like theft or vandalism. This separation ensures that, even if a catastrophic event were to completely compromise the primary business location and its on-site backups, the off-site data remains unaffected and secure.

Better security

In the case of tape backups and optical disc backups, storage media can be kept in isolation with physical security in place. Tapes are physically durable and immune to cyber threats, making them reliable for disaster recovery, especially when stored off-site. Cloud storage solutions on the other hand provide features like immutability (write once read many - WORM) which prevent data from being overridden or deleted.

For example, in the case of a ransomware attack on the on-site backup of an organization; off-site backups provide the required levels of immutability and physical isolation to ensure that business can continue.

Optimization of Space

Off-site backups ensure that your primary disks are not being utilized by backups. This saves space and would require less space upgrades to the storage array. Storing critical files of the operating system and applications ensures that the primary server runs smoother. Off-site backups using cloud storage and tape offer cost-effective solutions compared to traditional on-site backups.

Storage Destinations for Off-site backups

Network Attached Storage (NAS)

Network Attached Storage (NAS) is a popular storage solution. Linux and Windows operating systems by default allow network file storage mounting capabilities. Protocols like Network File Share (NFS) and Storage Message Block (SMB) are used to mount storages. Backup applications either mount the storage on to a local file system or session mount for data transfer. It's relatively easy to setup and is cost effective since no additional infrastructure is required. The network connection between two environments between different locations is the only requirement. The costs associated with network peering and management might be high.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage stands out for its minimal upfront costs and flexible scalability. Users pay only for the storage they use, with the ability to easily adjust as needs change, avoiding the high initial investment in hardware and infrastructure required for on-site backups. Additionally, cloud providers handle maintenance, security, and infrastructure management, significantly reducing operational and maintenance costs.

Tape Storage

Tape backups, while requiring some initial investment in tapes and drives, are more affordable than establishing a full on-site data center. They are particularly cost-effective for long-term archival storage due to their low cost per unit of storage and long shelf life. Tapes also don't require energy for data storage, which further reduces ongoing costs. Tapes are physically durable and immune to cyber threats, making them reliable for disaster recovery, especially when stored off-site.


Implementation of off-site backups is more than just a safety measure; it's an essential component of the disaster recovery plan. By off-site data storage, organizations can safeguard against a spectrum of risks, from natural disasters to sophisticated cyber threats.

The utilization of cloud and tape storage options not only enhances data security but also offers a cost-effective and scalable solution to traditional on-site methods. This approach not only ensures business continuity in adverse scenarios but also contributes to the overall efficiency and resilience of the IT infrastructure.


What Is Off-Site Backup? | Definition from TechTarget

Off-site data protection - Wikipedia'

Offsite Data Backup [Top 5 Reasons for Data Security] | Liquid Web

Tape Storage vs. Disk Storage: Getting the Facts Straight about Total Cost of Ownership Calculations - Fujifilm Data Storage