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Backup has become the bane of IT managers everywhere. Handling data is challenging and fraught with risk, and as concerns about service reliability, data security, and recovery mount, resources available to deal with the complexity of securing data have shriveled.

At the same time, there is unprecedented pressure to make sure data is intact, searchable, and retrievable in any contingency. In the face of these challenges, companies need a reliable backup solution, but often cannot afford the additional hardware, software, and staff required to manage data.

Not surprisingly, companies in search of the most efficient backup process are increasingly turning to online backup to provide a reliable, secure and inexpensive way to protect critical business data. One of the advantages of online backup is that your data is stored offsite, and you can set up automatic, unattended backups to occur at any time based on your company's needs. In addition, as long as there is an available Internet connection, you can restore data and perform administrative functions from any computer.

Configuration tips for online backups

Symantec Online Backup allows you to set a backup schedule, restore and clean up files, as well as change settings and user access. To configure a backup, you will need to select the folders and files to be backed up. It is always a good idea to reorganize your data so that files you don't want to back up are not stored in folders selected for backup – or else be prepared to bear the cost of backing up data you don't really need.

Depending on the number of files and folders you want to back up, your first backup may require a considerable amount of time. To limit bandwidth consumption, you can create a backup schedule. When you define a backup schedule, Online Backup will detect and upload changes only during the scheduled window.

If you choose not to set a schedule, the protection agent will continuously monitor for updates and back up your files anytime you change them or create new ones, keeping your backups current. This default setting is appropriate for most organizations; however, if your environment has constant and significant data changes, this may consume more network resources. If so, consider using a schedule, or set a bandwidth limit in the Computer Profile page on Symantec Protection Network.

To manage bandwidth, Symantec Online Backup performs byte-level backups, meaning it only copies over the parts of the file that have changed or been added. This reduces computing overhead and the Internet bandwidth required. As an added bonus, you can keep up to a year's worth of versions of a file.

To keep your data secure, files are encrypted before they leave your system so that nobody can intercept and read your data as it passes over the Internet. This encryption passphrase is needed each time you install a new agent to be protected or to which you want to restore data. But fear not. Symantec Online Backup includes free access to a secure Web site where you can store your encryption passphrase--and recover it if you forget it.

For more information about Symantec Online Backup, click here.