Should Your Business Choose On-Site or Off-Site Servers?

By Emily Newton, Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine

How data is stored has become an important consideration for businesses. Most companies have the option of choosing between on-site, local storage and off-site solutions like the cloud. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, and neither is necessarily the right choice in every situation.

Whether a business should choose on-site or off-site servers depends on how it operates — especially what kind of data it collects, what it is used for and how it is accessed.

This is how to know if your business should choose on-site or off-site data storage.

Advantages and Disadvantages of On-Site Servers

With on-site storage, the business meets all its needs with local servers and storage hardware. Backup to networked devices from on-site storage is typically very fast, enabling quick recovery from failures.

On-site data storage also provides a great deal of freedom to a business. The owner and IT team will have complete control over server specifications, configuration and location.

The business also controls essential server equipment, like racks, enclosures, drives and their software of choice. Owners with hardware preferences can choose technology from their preferred original equipment manufacturer, which wouldn’t be possible with cloud storage.

The close distance between workstations and on-site servers may also help to reduce latency. You also won’t be locked into monthly payments to cloud storage providers.

This freedom and flexibility can come with a cost, however. Local storage is not immediately scalable. If a business needs more storage, there will be some time between ordering the new hardware and having the space available.

Server maintenance is also the sole responsibility of the business. If something goes wrong, it will be up to the company IT department to troubleshoot the problem in a timely fashion. This can quickly become expensive.

Physical security may also be a challenge. On-site backups don’t provide the same protection that off-site backups can. If a fire, flood or other disaster strikes your offices, your backups and server hardware will likely be lost as well.

The business will also need to manage on-site security to ensure unauthorized parties don’t have access to their servers. At the same time, you’ll have more control over how these servers are secured. The company will have complete control over business cybersecurity, which may not be true with off-site servers.

When Is On-Site Storage Right for a Business?

While investing in on-site storage is an option, large businesses often focus on their core competencies instead. The technical and capital cost of maintaining on-site storage usually makes the strategy too difficult for companies that aren’t already experts in data and storage.

For businesses that have particular storage needs — or are concerned about the physical security of their backups — on-site storage may be a good solution. Companies more interested in convenience, third-party expertise or more reliable backups may find the downsides of on-site storage are too much.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Off-Site Servers

Off-site storage typically moves data to the cloud. Backups may be stored in more than one location, providing additional protection in the event of failure.

Off-site storage is often much more scalable than on-site. A business that needs more can typically secure additional space with the click of a button. It’s effectively unlimited so long as the company has the money.

Off-site storage is more resilient to natural disasters, but it’s not immune. Data centers have been lost to fires before, and the consequences can be just as devastating as an office fire.

However, off-site storage can guarantee that your backups will likely remain secure if your office is damaged by disaster. By storing copies in multiple locations, you can also reduce or effectively eliminate the risk that the loss of an individual data center will mean your information is gone.

Latency can be a problem with off-site storage, which is why businesses that rely on the cloud sometimes employ edge networking or similar strategies to reduce slowdowns. This storage strategy is a good fit for most companies.

Combining Off-Site and On-Site Storage: the Hybrid Approach

Many businesses that want the flexibility of on-site storage and the convenience of off-site are adopting a hybrid strategy that combines them. This approach provides the company with a great deal of freedom and control over on-site servers while also providing reliable cloud backups.

This combination gives businesses more options. Cloud storage space can be scaled up instantly while the company waits on new hardware for its on-site solution. Failure on- or off-site can be mitigated by backup servers.

If cloud storage or new hardware seems too expensive, the business has already invested in the alternative and will be able to instantly compare costs.

The approach isn’t always better than a solely on-site or off-site storage strategy. Businesses that adopt hybrid systems must coordinate devices and practices across local and cloud networks, which can sometimes be complex.

Securing hybrid storage can be just as difficult as securing it off-site, and the costs of maintaining it on-site may still be high.

The advantages of the hybrid approach make it a good middle-of-the-road option for businesses with IT expertise.

Choosing the Right Storage Solution for Your Business

Both on-site and off-site servers can be an effective storage or computing solution for a business. A hybrid approach can also be useful.

On-site servers typically work best for businesses that need control over storage hardware or conditions. Keeping servers on-premises allow companies to control physical access to the hardware. Off-site servers are more convenient and can provide additional flexibility. However, they may be more expensive, and the business has less control over how its data is stored.

A hybrid approach offers a mix between the two options, but the combination of on-site and off-site servers may be more difficult to manage.

Once company managers understand the pros and cons of these storage solutions, they can make the right decision for their business.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. A regular contributor to Brilliance Security Magazine, she has over four years of experience writing articles in the industrial sector.

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