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Mobile data backup FAQ

The increasing number of mobile devices in enterprise environments means a mobile data backup plan is required, and it won't be the same as one for a laptop.

As employees become more mobile, it's important for IT to be up to speed on mobile data backup.

Backups are an important aspect of any company's data protection strategy. When infrastructure fails or someone makes a mistake that leads to data loss, backups are there to resolve the crisis. Smartphones and tablets entering the workplace means that data protection strategies need to evolve beyond laptops, desktops and servers.

Why is mobile data backup important?

Mobile data backup is important because the prevalence of mobile devices in the workplace means more corporate data is being created and accessed from more places than ever before. While your server, desktop and laptop backup plan may be well established, employees using their smartphones and tablets to access and modify files are often unaccounted for. When that mobile data isn't backed up, it can be lost through device failure, theft or human error.

Can mobile and laptop backups be managed by the same program?

No. Conventional backup methods typically don't work on mobile devices. Cross-platform backup software has not yet caught up, and vendors have built security features into their devices that consequently hinder the backup process. For now, you will need to stick to services made specifically for backing up mobile devices.

Is EFSS the same thing as a laptop backup?

No, EFSS is not the same as a traditional laptop backup. Laptop backup software stores a copy of data in case of loss. EFSS stores information in the cloud and synchronizes it across multiple devices. The synchronization component means that the data can also be deleted from all connected devices at once. As such, EFSS services alone are not sufficient for mobile backups. You'll need a combined backup and EFSS service to achieve the same level of assurance that you'd get from a normal laptop backup.

Examples of combined services for mobile backup and EFSS include Druva inSync and inSync Share, Code42 Crashplan and Shareplan, EMC MozyEnterprise and MozySync, and CommVault Edge.

Keep in mind that combined EFSS and backup services may not be secure enough for your own office's situation and may require additional data loss prevention and mobile device management applications to fill in the gaps.

Is there a single mobile backup program that's compatible with all of the mobile platforms?

To put it simply, no, there is no single mobile backup program. Limitations built into those platforms by the mobile vendors themselves impede the backup process. While Android devices require rooting to perform a full enterprise backup, iOS devices allow only photos, videos, contacts and calendar data to be backed up, and so on. If you're facing a lot of diversity or fragmentation in the mobile platforms in your workplace, you'll need to develop a plan to keep them in line.

This was last published in October 2014

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Do you back up your mobile data? If so, how?
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Frankly, I don't think enterprise data should be stored on a mobile device. It's a security risk if the device gets lost or stolen, and it's a reliability risk if someone is running around with corporate data on their own device that's different from the corporate data everyone else has.
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