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Survey: IT decision makers overestimate how long cloud service providers retain backups

Senior IT decision makers are overestimating how long backups of their data are retained by cloud service providers, as a survey of 200 large UK enterprises found that many believed that services such as Microsoft Office 365 Exchange Online and Google Cloud were retaining backups for longer than they actually are. 

4SL, a company that specialises in backup technology, commissioned the survey to get an understanding on what IT decision makers thought about backups. It found that 73% of respondents believed that data stored on the Microsoft Office 365 Exchange Online cloud could be recoverable for longer than the standard 14 days, which is not actually the case. 

More worryingly, the survey found that 92% of those using Google Cloud believed that the service included backup provision as standard. This puts users at risk of losing critical data, and, importantly, could lead to the organisation being non-compliant with certain data retention laws. 

While 4SL will recommend users look at implementing third-party backup solutions, like its own platform, more than half of enterprises currently rely on the standard backup provision of at least one service provider. For instance, 46% of organisations using Microsoft Office 365 Exchange Online and 51% of those using Google Cloud Platform believe their data is recoverable for far longer than it is.

“If this blind spot in organisations’ knowledge continues, the risks of data loss and non-compliance will only increase,” said Barnaby Mote, CEO and founder of 4SL. 

“The desire to pass on responsibility for backup to service providers is understandable – backup environments are becoming extremely complex, and the peace of mind that a responsible partner is managing backup can be invaluable. However, enterprises need to understand that in the main the standard level of backup provided for infrastructure or software as a service won’t meet their needs. More than likely they’ll need to invest in the expertise or services to ensure their data in the cloud is protected and retained for long enough.”

More than three quarters of enterprises see handing over responsibility for backup as a benefit of adopting cloud services, although only 30% know their cloud service providers’ backup and recovery processes in detail. However, the need for support with backups is clear – 61% of enterprises are struggling with extremely complex backup environments. At the same time, there is a clear compliance need to ensure backup data is kept. 80% of enterprises say they have to retain backups for a specific length of time to meet regulatory obligations.

“It may seem difficult or complex, but enterprises must take control of backup,” continued Mote. 

“At the very least, they need to understand the precise capabilities they have, and what data may be at risk. Yet they also need to understand precisely how technology advances such as microservices impact backup, and how to adapt to them. Whether they do this themselves or rely on outside help, enterprises need to act.”

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