The old school archive!

When you think of business continuity you typically think about how do you get your data and systems back in event of a major system, application or data center outage. Included in this is a solid backup strategy that can allow for prompt restoration of data. However, the truth of the matter is long term backup storage can be expensive. Many organizations avoid it like the plague.

Storage can represent a substantial cost to make data available. In recent years new technologies have emerged that we have mentioned in this blog such as object storage. What is object storage? Its a very cheap method of providing IT systems places to store data but unlike your desktop or server, the data storage does not have a structured filesystem like FAT, NTFS or ReFS. This makes it cheaper as its more efficient. This technology is built to be multi-tenant (great for cloud service providers) and can scale to zillions of gigabytes. The way you talk to this service is though a protocol called S3.

Simple Storage Service (3 S’s) aka S3 was originally developed by Amazon and is the cornerstone to its simple archive class of storage. It uses several technologies that is used actively to power the web that you may or may not be familiar with. If you have teenagers, you many have heard of a technology called BitTorrent. Unlike the commercially used technology, this is way cooler than simply downloading movies or games. Amazon opend up the specification to standardize the industry and many object storage software and cloud providers have adapted it as a standard method of accessing data.

So how does this help you? Well as we have been discussing, many backup vendors are now integrating with S3 compatible systems like AWS, IBM, Wasabi, DigitalOcean Spaces. Combined with popular backup technologies, you can offsite long term backups and data at a fraction of the cost. To give you and idea, the cost of typical cloud performance storage is around .20 cents USD per gigabyte (some more, some less), however object storage can be purchased at .01-.03 cents USD per gigabyte. Ching!!!!!!

As far as BC/DR is concerned for systems that don’t require high RPO or RTO, in other words, you can wait a few days or more to recover them, this is a no-brainer and is a great storage method as its cost effective to store offsite and can be pulled back on premise or into a cloud easily. Your data is absolutely safe even if your infrastructure is destroyed.

Things to Consider

With any object storage, remember this is designed for longer term storage. So consider the following when electing to backup to S3 repositories:

  1. Its usually free to upload files but they typically change for download with a few vendor exceptions. Service providers bill by the amount of data that is downloaded.
  2. Data should NOT be actively used. If you have active data, store them on premise or in a higher performance cloud storage option. I would recommend archiving data off after about 2 weeks but your requirements may vary.
  3. Focus on unstructured data like Office files, large logs, backups, data exports etc.
  4. There are other technologies that can actually reduce the price of object storage even further like deduplication. For organizations that have a lot of archive data (terabytes to petabytes) this can save substantial money over and above the cost savings using object storage. We will have more on this in a future article.

So to sum up what we have discussed, if you actively backup your data, you want to talk with your IT professional about developing an S3 archive strategy as this could improve your overall service, allow longer term access to data without breaking the bank. Oh we will also talk about in next article how to leverage deduplication technology to further reduce the crazy low cost of object storage. Cost so low, you will think its free!


  1. Best Referat says:

    There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. The critical thing is for the BCDR program leader to have a broad perspective and enough clout to get the right elements in place.

    • You are correct! You will see over and over in my blog that having good BCDR specific competence available for your organization is critical. The problem I see is that many small organizations who use their “IT guy” don’t really have the expertise to put a solid plan in place or at least educate their customers on what they really need to protect the business. The basic response is “yeah will take care of those backups for you” but that’s only part of the solution.

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