Immutable Backup: Everything You Need to Know

Did you know that conventional data backups don’t provide enough data protection against malware attacks?

While a data backup can be your business life saver in certain events, such as power outages, it won’t be of much help in certain events such as a ransomware attack. The reason is very simple: your backups are still on the very same network that the intruder was able to access. 

The good news is you can prevent this from happening with immutable backups.

But what are immutable backups and how do they work? Let’s discuss this in more detail.

What is an Immutable Backup?

Immutable backups are data copies that can’t be deleted, overwritten, or modified.

Using immutable storage to save data preserves its original state as files are saved with the WORM (write-once-read-many) mechanism, which locks the backups away from modification. Immutable backups are more common in modern backup architectures.

Why is Immutable Backup Important?

Organizations deploy immutable backups as a defense mechanism against ransomware attacks. 

Ransomware is a type of malware that can infiltrate any network-enabled system or device. Its impact can be catastrophic because it’s capable of spreading quickly throughout your whole infrastructure, giving you no time to deal with it. Ransomware encrypts your data and disrupts your business operations, causing major revenue losses and dissatisfied customers. 

Creating traditional mutable backups that expose your organization to data permanence is no longer enough to protect your organization from ransomware and other cyber threats. This is because ransomware can find its way to your backups and encrypt them as well. As a matter of fact, some types of ransomware attacks are targeted at backups in particular. 

Even if your company maintains strict security measures, such as access permissions, two-factor authentication, and ACLs, your data could still be compromised without immutable backups. 

Immutability guarantees clean backups that can’t jeopardize the rest of your network operations. So, in case of a ransomware attack, you always have a plan B.

The Benefits of Immutable Backup

There are many benefits of implementing immutable backups; the most notable of which are listed below. 

Recovering from a Disaster

Disasters come out of nowhere. From natural disasters to failed updates and cyberattacks, you don’t want to find out that you need immutable backups when it’s too late. 

Immutable backups are just like insurance for your organization: whenever something goes wrong, you can always restore your backup data and resume your operations normally. 

Backup Integrity

A data backup provides reassurance for your organization that data can be restored when needed. But if your backups are infected, they’re just as good as useless. 

Immutability maintains solid backup integrity by making sure that your backups are 100% clean and that they can be restored when required.


Meeting data compliance regulations and standards, like FedRAMP, HIPAA/HITRUST, and FINRA, requires organizations to guarantee the safety of sensitive data and make sure it’s immune to cyberattacks. This includes personally identifiable information, such as data of birth and SSN, and protected health information.

Since immutable backups can’t be altered, they’re virtually immune to ransomware and other types of cyberattacks that seek to destroy or modify sensitive data.

Better Access Control

Human error is inevitable; there’s always a chance that one of your employees may accidentally delete or modify some of your backup files. Not to mention, malicious insider actions are becoming more common, and you never know what a terminated employee might do on their last day. 

Since immutable backups can’t be changed or overwritten, the risk of accidental or malicious data corruption or deletion is eliminated.

Immutable Backups and Ransomware Attack Mitigation

Ransomware attacks have become more frequent than ever, especially with many organizations adopting remote and hybrid work environments after the COVID-19 pandemic.

At least one ransomware attack happens every 11 seconds, with IBM estimating the average losses of a ransomware attack to be a whopping $4.35 million. This means that working on a reliable data backup and recovery strategy is no longer optional; you must act now to protect your organization and ensure business continuity. 

As a Managed Service Provider, your primary storage systems must remain available for client systems.

That’s not the case for backups. Backups should be fully isolated and impossible to alter, which can only be achieved with immutability. By separating your backups from the rest of your systems, you and your clients become less much likely to fall victim to a ransomware attack. 

Achieving Immutability with Air Gapping

Air-gapping is a technique that organizations can use to create immutable backups. An air gap is basically a physical or virtual barrier between backup sites and production sites. 

Physically air-gapped backups are located in remote offline facilities. In other words, you’ll need to physically travel to where these backups reside to access them. A virtual air gap, on the other hand, creates a network barrier by disconnecting the backups from the internet. 

Organizations use air gapping to implement the 3-2-1-1-0 backup and recovery strategy, where three data copies are kept in two different storage media (such as enterprise disk arrays and purpose-built backup appliances), with one immutable copy stored in an offsite facility. 

Creating Immutable Object Storage Backups

Object storage is a cloud storage architecture that treats data as separate objects or “units”, where each unit can be located with a unique identifier. It’s used to store unstructured data, such as media files, sensor data, email, and web pages. 

With object storage, you can create immutable object storage backups to recover data in a faster, cheaper, and easier way. And since locating specific files with object storage is so simple, you can granularly retrieve data on-demand.

Data stored in object storage rarely requires to be modified. One example is a patient’s health records in a hospital; they must be stored and accessed when required, and at the same time, they’re not accessed or modified frequently. This makes object storage a good choice for long-term data storage at an affordable cost. 

Benefits of Object Storage

Some of the benefits of object storage systems include:

Cost efficiency

Object storage is much more affordable than other types of storage, making it a more favorable choice for long-term storage of large sums of unstructured data. 

Seamless scalability

Object storage systems are easy to scale up or down on demand. 

Fast access to data

Object storage enables fast data retrieval thanks to its categorization structure. With no traditional folder hierarchy, you can find the data you’re looking for with a simple search query. 

Better data analytics

Object storage is built on classification with metadata, creating a more analytics-friendly environment. 

Better resource utilization

Object storage doesn't have the same limitations as other types of storage that require a specific file hierarchy. Plus, you can customize the metadata based on your preferences, allowing for improved resource utilization. 

Immutable Backup Deployment Options


For on-premises deployments, you have two choices: physical and virtual immutable backup repositories. Physical immutable backups are ideal for tight RTO and RPO targets, making them suitable for handling backups for critical industries that can’t afford long periods of downtime.

Virtual immutable backups, on the other hand, are favored for their high performance and affordability in comparison to physical immutable backups.

Cloud Deployment

Cloud-based immutable backups are very similar to on-premises deployments. The primary difference here is that your organization doesn’t have to worry about any initial capital investments in infrastructure or regular maintenance and scalability requirements; everything is handled by the provider. 

Cloud-based immutable backups are a favorable option for archiving and retaining data in the long run. 

Hybrid Deployment

Hybrid deployments combine the benefits of on-premises and the cloud. You get the scalability of the cloud, in addition to the performance capabilities of on-prem solutions.

Honeycomb Cold Storage: Archive as a Service – Immutable backups in the cloud

Honeycomb Cold Storage from Probax is a complication-free and affordable Archive as a Service that helps you create immutable air-gapped backups for protection against ransomware attacks.

When you copy your cloud backups to Honeycomb Cold Storage, rest assured that they'll be isolated from your production site and impossible to modify or overwrite, providing you with an immutable air-gapped backup solution in the cloud.

With Probax Honeycomb Cold Storage, you'll reap the benefits of cloud-based backups while also keeping them protected from ransomware.

Veeam recognized Probax as the most forward-thinking and innovative solution globally which provides automatic archiving of GFS restore points, including air-gapping and minimum expiry times. When your clients need long-term data retention, Probax Honeycomb Cold Storage is the best choice, no question.

Honeycomb Object Storage: Object Storage as a Service – Immutable backups in the cloud

Honeycomb Object Storage from Probax is powered by Wasabi and is designed for MSPs who need cost-effective, secure, and simplified long-term S3 compatible object storage with immutability.

Veeam Backup & Replication v10, v11 and v12 can all utilize the immutability feature of Honeycomb Object Storage.

The process by which you enable immutability is the same for both a Backup Job and a Backup Copy Job. When Veeam runs the offload process for a particular job, Veeam will upload the files and automatically set the immutability expiration for those objects.

Veeam uses a Block Generation strategy to determine the appropriate immutability expiration on objects, in order to ensure that full backups and incremental backups have the same immutability expiration time.

With immutability protection, industry-specific security and compliance, guaranteed availability, and all-inclusive pricing, your MSP’s object storage needs are easily met with Honeycomb Object Storage.

Reach out to us to discuss your immutable backup options and learn more about our award-winning Honeycomb Cold Storage and Honeycomb Object Storage solutions!

You need DRaaS in your MSP toolkit

Traditional backup only protects a segment of data, and a data protection strategy based on backup alone presents a significant risk to most organizations. 

That's why our practical and free white paper Most MSPs Have Inadequate Disaster Recovery Solutions outlines everything your MSP needs to know about the importance of DRaaS.