A smarter way to backup your business data

For the vast majority of businesses the data that is held about customers, partners and suppliers is a precious commodity. However, many businesses still don’t have a comprehensive contingency plan in place to protect the integrity of that all-important data.

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Know your data

The first step in developing a comprehensive data backup system for your business is to decide which information you need to secure. For example, meeting compliance may well be a mandatory requirement for your business but protecting intellectual property should be considered too.  Conducting a data audit will help you determine which data needs backing-up.

As well as the data your business contains, does your business also need to backup any critical applications? If so do you have the original installation disks?  Did you download applications from the web, if so, did you make a copy of it?  It’s important to consider the consequences of losing these applications.

Another consideration is how your business currently accesses business data and how much of that data is stored on mobile devices including smartphones, laptops and tablets. Your data audit should take these devices into consideration.

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Onsite, online, or hybrid?

For many businesses using legacy backup systems like tape drives, CD/DVDs and even USB sticks is adequate if the amount of data that is involved is relatively small. For larger data volumes the low cost of external hard drives as backup devices also provides a cost effective way to scale up storage capacity.  However, many businesses don’t think about the security of these physical devices.

Data storage devices can certainly be used, but your business should consider storing these devices off-site or investing in a safe that can withstand fire and water damage where your data storage devices can be kept should disaster strike.

In recent years many businesses have moved from physical backup devices to using online cloud backup solutions which will allow you to transfer the burden of security, reliability and storage to the professionals.

Before selecting a suitable provider you should look closely at the data plans that are on offer and any additional costs that might be incurred. Your data audit will tell you how much space you will need now, which will allow you to shop around for the best storage deal.  That said, cheapest, or free, isn’t always best, so look at the providers’ total service and ask if they can put you in touch with existing customers who can vouch for the service.

You will also need to consider your future growth needs to help you forecast and monitor future costs of backing up data incrementally to the cloud.

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Cloud backup checklist

There are a number of questions that your business should ask before committing to any cloud backup service:

  1. Does the system have its own backup, to ensure your data is secure?
  2. Are their physical servers housed in a secure location?
  3. Is encryption (at least 256-bit SSL) used when backing up over the Internet?
  4. What backup speeds does the data backup service include?
  5. How quickly can data be recovered?
  6. What is the cost per gigabyte of data stored?
  7. Does the service level agreement meet your business’ needs?
  8. Can I trial the service?

image by FutUndBeidl