Difference Between Onsite and Offsite Data Backup

8 min read

So you’ve set up elaborate technology infrastructure to support your business. You’ve got cutting edge hardware and sophisticated applications to capture and manipulate your company’s data. Everything seems to work like clockwork just like you envisaged it. Well, until it doesn’t.

No matter how robust your systems, there’s always the possibility that a disaster, power outage, malware, a DDoS attack or a freak system malfunction could wipe out part or all of your most vital business data. The result would be catastrophic for your organization. In the worst case, it could even force you to shut down for good.

Hardware and software can be replaced but data that’s lost or destroyed may be gone forever and be near impossible to recapture. This is why having an elaborate data backup strategy is so crucial. There are different techniques you can use for backup but the two most popular choices are offsite and onsite. So what are the differences between the two?

Onsite and Offsite Data Backup

Onsite Data Backup

As the name suggests, the data backups, in this case, are kept at your business premises. The medium used may range from magnetic tapes and hard drives to DVDs and USBs.


Quick Access – Since the backups are within the premises, the data can be accessed fairly quickly whenever it’s required. You don’t need to worry about the latency and capacity of an internet connection since everything takes place within the company’s network and location.

Inexpensive in the Long-term – Hard drives and magnetic tapes are low-cost storage units especially when purchased in bulk and/or high capacity.

Ease of Installation – Onsite backup is easy to install and manage. You have access to the physical devices so can see both the virtual and physical status of the hardware in real time. This means faster troubleshooting.


Physical Security – The fact that the backup media are in your premises makes it easy for someone to steal your data without the need to execute a sophisticated virtual hack. Once an intruder has extracted the physical device and carried it with them, they have all the time in the world to try and break through the security controls.

Bad for Disaster Recovery – The very essence of a data backup is to ensure your business’s information is available even after an incident that renders production data unusable. But storing the data backups in the same location as your production environment means in the event of a major disaster like a hurricane, floods, earthquake, fire or a bomb attack at your production site, both your production and backup data would be destroyed.

Difference Between Onsite and Offsite Data Backup

Offsite Data Backup

In offsite backup solutions, the data is transferred to a remote server in the cloud. The transfer is done via the Internet. Like onsite backup, offsite backup has merits and demerits.


Redundancy – When data is transferred to the cloud, it automatically benefits from the redundancy mechanisms established by the cloud services provider. That often means the data is retained on different servers which ensures the data is available in the event that one server fails.

Security – When data is sent to a cloud server via the public Internet, it’s best relayed via a virtual private network (VPN). In addition, the data itself may also be encrypted at source thus ensuring a double layer of security in the event that it falls in the wrong hands.

Capacity – With cloud-based backup services, you have virtually unlimited storage. If your data demands are nearly exceeding the capacity afforded by your current server plan, you need only to upgrade to a higher plan and this will be effected almost immediately. This is especially useful if your business generates large and fast-growing volumes of data.


Cost – Cloud-based backup can be quite expensive in the long run. The monthly or annual payment may make the cost appear low but this can add up quite fast when extrapolated to a 10 or 15-year timeframe.

Speed – Offsite backup is dependent on the availability of an internet connection. If the connection is slow or unstable, that can substantially deteriorate the quality, efficiency, and speed of data transfer. Data retrieval that would take minutes for onsite backup may run into hours for offsite backup if the connection is poor.

Neither offsite nor onsite backup is the most ideal in all circumstances. Suitability will come down to your operational and legal Data retention requirements.

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