File Syncing Has its Place in Modern Workplaces… but Data Protection Requires Backup (and more)

Alexey Turchanikov, VP, Product Management at Infrascale, shared his thoughts on the importance of protecting data in modern work environments – especially the difference between file sync and true data protection technologies such as data backup.  While both can be beneficial for SMB and mid-market customers, the level of data protection they provide is very different. Alexey has been with Infrascale since 2010 and is responsible for new and existing products and leads the Infrascale product management organization.

How important are file syncing and data backup technologies in today’s remote work environment?

Alexey Turchanikov: Compared to your typical office space, remote employees work in a much less controlled environment, which means increased risk of data loss, virus, or ransomware infection. Moreover, a compromised laptop or mobile device (i.e., endpoint) can instantly become a gateway for infection of the corporate network. Therefore, the importance of data backup is higher than ever.

Instead of connecting your home workstation directly to a Network Attached Storage (NAS) on the office LAN, file syncing can help reduce business risk.

What are some of the shortfalls of file syncing as a data protection approach?

AT: While file syncing has value in certain circumstances, it should never be used as a sole data protection approach.

  • Spreads infection – File syncing can (and does) spread malicious files across multiple endpoints
  • Short retention – File syncing solutions (e.g. OneDrive ) usually have a very short data retention period; after which deleted files are immediately purged from the service
  • Supported documents – File sync solutions generally only work well with documents, spreadsheets, and presentation files
  • Limited support for synced locations – End users tend to store a lot of data outside of synced locations

When are backups the best data protection approach?

AT: Data protection is broadly defined as the process of safeguarding important information from corruption, compromise, or loss. Backups are a necessary part of the data protection strategy in any company. Depending on where the important data lives, backups may include endpoints, servers, and cloud services like Microsoft 365 or Salesforce.com.

However, backups alone are never the best data protection method. Backups are just one component of data protection and should not be relied upon as the sole tactic. A comprehensive data protection strategy for Backup and Disaster Recovery includes not only backup, but also the ability to minimize potential downtime by the boot-up of data operations when a disaster occurs.

What are best practices for file syncing?

AT: Organizations should use sync products that support centralized administration and account management, and that prevents the spread of ransomware or viruses through software. The file sync product should support online editing of the typical document files and use on-demand download for files downloaded on the first access attempt.

What’s the best way for a remote user to back up files?

AT: The easiest way for a remote user to back up files is to use an endpoint backup product with file level backups. This backup solution should support centralized deployment, monitoring, and policy-based management.

That’s the answer for remote users and files, but don’t forget the importance of backing up servers and cloud applications too!

Final Thoughts – Beware a False Sense of Security

AT: Despite the general move to the cloud, most employee content is still produced at their workstations. These workstations and the data that resides on them have never been exposed to higher risks than today. Despite the value that a file sync tool can provide in certain scenarios, it will not provide the data protection required by SMB and mid-market customers. Furthermore, it may create a false sense of security. When your middle-school aged son drops your laptop from the table, you may discover that your important spreadsheets, design files, and photos that lived outside your sync folder are permanently lost. An endpoint backup solution such as Infrascale Cloud Backup (ICB) protects your important data and removes the risk of deletion – either accidental or malicious.

 

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