5 Plain-English IT explanations to help you shop for a cloud backup solution like a pro

Has someone ever walked into your business and asked questions far more advanced than that of your average customer? You’re probably prepared for inquiries about prices, warranties, and product/service instructions; but when someone struts in and starts interrogating you with a bunch of industry jargon, it puts you on your toes.

When looking for answers, customers are as put off by insider slang as Carolinians are by talk of Texas BBQ. But if you use jargon to put a salesperson on his or her toes, that’s a different story. It shows you’ve done your research and it subtly says, “You can’t pull one over on me, buddy.”

This tactic is especially helpful in the IT sector, which is dominated by technical specifications, acronyms, and cryptic lingo. Cloud backups are a great example of this; they’re undeniably important for business continuity (check out our article from last year), but beyond understanding their benefits…what do small business owners actually know about cloud backups?

Check out the most important jargon you need to put any IT service provider on its toes during the sales process.

Data at rest/Data in transit

Although these words seem simple enough, they’re definitely something you should understand in detail, especially if you comply with regulations such as HIPAA or PCI-DSS. Despite what non-IT folks assume, data at rest and data in transit are not protected the same way.

Without going into too much detail, encryption is a process whereby digital information is scrambled in a logical, albeit extremely complex way. Without the decryption key, the data is impossible for a human or computer to understand.

Unfortunately, it’s much easier to encrypt information that is stored on a hard drive, or in other words, data that is “at rest.” But with cloud backups, you’ll be sending copies of your most valuable information from your office computers and across the wide open internet before it comes to rest on your IT provider’s server. When data is transmitted across the internet (or a closed, local network) it is referred to as “in transit,” and it is much harder to encrypt.

But don’t worry! A managed IT services provider, like Spectrumwise, should be able to encrypt data in transit and at rest.


Much like the previous terms, scalability seems pretty self-explanatory. At its most basic, it is the ability to request more capacity from a service without the per-unit price going through the roof.

For cloud backups, this is often oversimplified as, “You can always request more cloud storage space; we won’t run out of room.”

But here are some additional scalability questions you should ask to better understand how long you can stick with a cloud backup solution:

  1. What about users? As my company grows and I need to back up more of my employees’ files, will I ever hit a ceiling with how many users can back up to your cloud?
  2. If I scale up the amount of storage I need, will the frequency at which my backups are created decrease?
  3. Will scaling up my backup solutions affect the security of my data? If I request a big upgrade, will you ever store my data on the same server as another client’s?

A lot of providers will claim that they provide unlimited scalability, but the truth is not even Google or Amazon Web Services can do that. This is why you need to push your cloud backup provider to explain the limits of their services in numbers.


You can find a much more detailed definition of RTOs and RPOs in one of our previous articles, but when using them to bluff a salesperson, you need only a basic understanding.

RTO, which stands for Recovery Time Objective, refers to the amount of time it takes to restore backups from your cloud provider to your local hard drives. Even with internet and hard drive speeds getting faster every day, there’s a good chance you’ll still need to prioritize some backups over others. Ask a cloud provider to assess your company and give you an RTO estimate measured in hours.

RPO stands for Recovery Point Objective, and it refers to how recent you need the data you’re restoring to be. Can you get by if your most recent backups are from yesterday? What about backups that are a few days old? You could ask a provider, “How often will my data be backed up?” But if you don’t want to sound as if this is the first cloud-backup provider you’ve met, try: “What sort of RPO can you guarantee?”

In reality, there are dozens of other words, phrases, and acronyms you could learn. But hopefully, sprinkling a few of these into the conversation will give you an edge the next time you’re shopping for a new IT support provider.

Obviously, this strategy doesn’t apply to meeting with us…seeing as we’re the ones who gave you the idea. But you won’t need it. We don’t offer long-term contracts and our clients can head to another IT provider whenever they like. Our success has been entirely based on providing the best service in town.

So give us a call today and we’ll promise to check the sales pitch at the door.


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