Today’s businesses are so reliant on data that most of them will cease to function without a steady flow of it. The case is especially true for small to medium enterprises, where most of the decision making is left to one or two individuals. Just like retail users, small business owners fail to realize the importance of a solid data backup & recovery system. The truth is that they’re playing a very dangerous game by thinking that new technologies will continue to make their lives more efficient, all on their own. It’s important to remember that in today’s world of data-dependency, a bad backup plan, or complete lack of, can mean the end of a business if that data is lost or stolen.
The real problem is that most small businesses either can’t afford to invest in a good backup strategy or are simply ignorant of the fact that it could happen to them and end their livelihood. Not to say that small business owners aren’t tech savvy, but the concept of backup and storage strategy has recently caught up with their otherwise modern work ethics. Another problem is that most businesses run by millennials prefer to stick to the early 2000s concept of batch backups, failing to realize the need to have a constantly updated repository of their sensitive business data.
Do Small Businesses Really Need Backups?
The need to have securely backup data has never been more critical to businesses, especially for smaller more vulnerable businesses. While users can always store data for free on a cloud, some argue that you’re better off manually backup your data in an external hard drive. But backup isn’t just hardware, and a business’s backup strategy will depend on the organization’s unique storage needs.
A disaster recovery plan can act as a guiding light in times of IT disasters, and should be your first priority. Here are few of the weaknesses one would find when thinking about what can go wrong:
Locally hosted data might be secure, but if the building burns to the ground?
Backup tapes are permanently on-site.
Computer access in smaller organizations isn’t usually regulated by an administrator, enabling employees to misuse or siphon data.
For business data, always ensure to:
-Make two full copies of the data, maintained on separate physical devices, whether it’s on a hard drive, USB stick, Blu-ray, or even a good old fashioned rewritable disk.
-Keep a third optional virtual copy, stored in a cloud or on a server, preferably in a different location as your office servers.
Having multiple copies of your data can greatly reduce the chances of total data loss, as well as offer a degree of business continuity. Optionally, you can keep this data updated by synchronizing all the devices that the data is stored on.
Best Data Storage Solutions
Rather than create a detailed backup & recovery strategy that would require you to invest in paid data services, a good choice would be to use convenient storage options that are practically suitable for small businesses. Here’s a look at some of the best backup storage options.
1. Direct Attached Storage (DAS)
Direct Attached Storage devices are those that are physically connected to a computer or server, typically via USB 2.0 and above, ports. This ensures that the data is nearby and within reach, with the occasional issue of having to perform batch backups. This won’t be a major issue if your data doesn’t have to be real-time, and if you have the time and patience to perform manual backups.
2. Network Attached Storage (NAS)
Network Attached Storage devices are those that are directly connected to a network. A NAS system will offer support functions that one would expect from a file server, with the added feature of accepting multiple storage drives. NAS devices usually come equipped with redundancies, like RAID capabilities; because NAS supports a range of protocols to allow users to directly access a PC. Some NAS models offer the capability to synchronize specific data with a suitable remote NAS system.
3. Disaster Protected Storage (DAS)
Disaster Protected Storage systems are specialized storage devices that can withstand disasters that typically erase or corrupt unprotected data. DAS systems can exist as DAS or NAS. Most of these devices are made out of durable military grade materials, and offer a range of protection features such as water-proofing, fire-proofing, etc.
4. Online Storage
The internet is a great place, even more so now that we can store data online. And while most people only think of the cloud when it comes to online storage, there are two distinct form of online storage; paid services like Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3), and online storage systems, like the cloud. There are a number of such services that have been created specifically for small businesses, like IBackup. The only downside of online storage is that online data recovery can take a long time, especially in a case of full-recovery, since the data is being recovered from a remote location.
If you prefer not to leave you sensitive data under the protection of 3rd party cloud vendors, you could even opt to build your own private cloud service. And although it might not have been practical for small businesses to invest in their own cloud, new innovations now allow them to get private cloud storage on a budget.
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