By Drew Schumacher
Businesses small and large rely extensively on computer-derived data, with large companies having entire departments dedicated to serving their Information Technology needs. Small businesses may have an I.T. department too, but that task may be handled by one individual who quite possibly might also have other responsibilities such as sales, human development or management.
Business Data Strategy
Without a data backup strategy in place, your small business can lose important data, a costly problem that could sink your business. A May 2012 Mozy survey revealed that about two-thirds of small businesses have a backup strategy, but most of those rely on older, onsite methods. Along with the one-third of businesses without a comprehensive backup plan, such companies are vulnerable and could go out of business if the data loss is severe.
The traditional form of data backup for businesses include both tape and disk backup. Oftentimes, businesses use both, scheduling daily backups that are copied to tape and disk alike.
Tape backup, however, is gradually being replaced by disk technology with systems from HP, Dell, Seagate, IBM and EMC among the systems used. Such systems employ what is known as “data deduplication” or single-instance storage where data is restored and redundant data is erased. Such systems look for data that is exactly alike and saves only one copy, the latest, of that data. This method allows businesses to store only required data and reduces storage space requirements and costs.
Even with such “hard” options as tape and disk, your business may opt for another option to supplement backups accomplished at both the personal computer and server level. The Mozy survey revealed that about 15 percent of small businesses make use of cloud services or online backup that automatically secures important data remotely. That survey revealed that 90 percent of small businesses are open to this option, a decision that could help your business in an emergency.
With cloud services, your data is automatically backed up at a scheduled time each day and can be retrieved when you need it. Even if your business has the habit of storing a disk or tape off site, cloud storage can provide an extra measure of support just in case.
What method or methods of storage backup should your business use? How can you craft an effective policy to ensure that your business is protected? The answers to these questions may hinge entirely on your business’ I.T. capabilities and the time your people have to maintain an effective strategy. This strategy might include:
1. Requiring all employees to backup their data daily. Under this arrangement, you would provide a separate external hard drive for each employee. Employees would backup their data just before they ended work for the day and that updated drive would be stored in a fireproof vault for the evening.
2. A server-side backup strategy. Individual backups can be a problem for small businesses, whereas a backup accomplished at the server level can be handled by one person each day. This option may be best if there are multiple users and the amount of data that is accumulated daily is significant. Keep in mind that you’ll pay for the hardware or the backup drive and for the related software to handle the backups. Typically, your hard drive comes bundled with the software to handle backups.
3. Beyond the hard drive backup, you may want to layer cloud computing on top of your physical backup. This system can be ideal for companies that require redundant backup with both a physical and virtual copy of files available. A cloud-only strategy may be appealing, but it does not offer the redundancies that some businesses require.
Maintaining a physical hard-drive backup strategy with a virtual storage strategy, can prove to be the most comprehensive and effective means of storing essential data. Get estimates of the cost of these service, but don’t scrimp here — your data is a priceless asset, its full value only becomes known when it has been forever lost.
Drew Schumacher is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio who specializes in tape library repair. Drew writes often for www.magnext.com.