As the head of technical support for Symform, I get the opportunity to help a wide variety of users successfully back up their data to the cloud. While every user is unique, many have common questions, which I thought would be helpful to share with everyone. You can break down those issues into two categories—questions from users who haven’t yet installed our software, and those from users who are on their way to syncing data to the cloud and contributing to the Symform Network.
These are the most typical questions or topics that are covered as users get ready to start using the Symform Cloud Storage Network:
How much bandwidth do I need?
- When you’re sending files to and from the cloud, your bandwidth has to be appropriate for how much data is going through the pipes. Just as you can’t pump an Olympic-size swimming pool through a drinking straw, you can’t send data to the cloud–or do much on the Internet, for that matter–with too little bandwidth. I recommend that clients have a minimum of about 256Kbps for download and 128Kbps for upload. Anything less than this will make uploading data to the cloud difficult. Most major cities now have plenty of bandwidth to use Symform successfully, but in rural and underdeveloped areas, insufficient bandwidth could be a problem.
Does Symform handle both local and cloud backup?
- Symform works best as a secondary, offsite backup. We’re here to improve your overall backup and disaster recovery plan and complement your local backup. One of the first questions I always ask customers is what they are doing for local backup. Oftentimes, they have nothing set up or they’re using a file-based backup such as Windows or BackupAssist. I usually recommend getting a strong local backup process working, and I particularly like solutions that do image-based backup, such as StorageCraft. I also like network attach storage (NAS) devices, like QNAP, for local backup. These types of solutions provide reliable local backup with high security and low downtime. And Symform easily extends these solutions to the cloud, giving you the ultimate data protection and fast data restore.
How much data or which data should I store in the Symform cloud?
- A lot of users who are about to register ask me what kind of data, or how much data, they can afford to back up with us. Typically, they’re coming from cloud services that charge by the gigabyte, so they’re familiar with picking and choosing what to back up. I first explain that Symform provides a flat fee for unlimited backup in the cloud with no per-gigabyte charges, so they don’t necessarily have to choose a select data set (which is why we recommend image-based backups). However, if you want to use file-based solutions, focus on backing up mission or business critical files. The first step in any data management process is identifying and classifying your data, so you know what information you cannot afford to lose.
Once a user gets signed up, it’s the questions about security and data recovery that I hear most often.
How do I restore my data?
- What’s important to know about restoring from cloud backup is that it only needs to be done in a disaster recovery scenario. Local backup is your first line of defense. If something happens to destroy your local backup—that’s when you restore from Symform. That being said, it’s a good idea to test your data restore on a regular basis, such as monthly. Also, with our Instant Restore feature, you can keep a hot copy at a secondary location, which means that instead of having to wait for the data to be downloaded from the cloud, you can have your data ready for recovery in a matter of hours.
Is my data safe?
- Just as Symform is unique in its economics and contribution model, it also brings unique security measures that, in my opinion and based on our audits, makes your data safer than with traditional cloud storage approaches. I’m always prepared to run through Symform’s security measures, which include encryption for every block of data with a unique 256-bit key, fragmentation of each block, 50 percent added redundancy, and distribution of the fragments over 96 random devices across the global network. The distribution part usually leads to another question . . .
You store other people’s data on my computer?
- I hear this frequently from users concerned about dangerous or illegal content ending up on their devices. However, what gets distributed and then stored on devices on the Symform network is an encrypted fragment. It is nothing that resembles information. Imagine if you blocked out all the words on a piece of a paper, then ran that paper through a shredder, then gave 96 different people each fragment. No one would have any piece that resembled information, nor could anyone reassemble the original content, and even if they could, they could not decrypt it. With our architecture and strong security measures, even dangerous files, such as viruses, would be rendered completely inoperable.
I hope these six questions help you better understand how Symform works. If not, contact our support team, and let us help you.