How important is your business data? If a hard drive crashed, would you be able to complete your current project? Or review last year’s payment records? Luckily, there are more options than ever for backing up your crucial data.
Your business relies on the data stored on your computers, and it’s imperative that you protect that data against loss through malfunction, theft, or natural disaster. There are several ways you can do this and experts recommend that you use more than one method, and store your backups in as many places and as many formats as possible. The methods you choose will depend on the amount of data you need to back up, along with considerations like cost, accessibility, and ease of performing regular backups.
1. External hard drive. An external hard drive is an inexpensive option which allows you plenty of backup space and room to expand without additional costs. Most hard drives are easy to install via a USB port, and come with software designed to make backing up easy, quick, and automatic. A hard drive can easily be lost or stolen, so sensitive data should be encrypted.
2. USB flash drives. A flash drive is a good option if you have relatively little data or a strict budget. It’s easy to use and portable, although you’ll need to keep at least two copies as flash drives can become corrupted. They also have limited write/ rewrite cycles.
3. DVD or CD. Although this is the most cost-effective way to back up your data, you’ll have to remember to do it manually at regular intervals. You’re limited to about 8.5GB of space, so this method won’t be suitable if you have a lot of data.
4. Tape technology. A tape drive reads and writes data on a magnetic tape, and is the method increasingly used for backing up business data. Although the initial cost of the drive is relatively high, once you have it it’s the quickest and cheapest way to store large amounts of information.
5. Online file storage. Cloud storage is a good way to go if you have a steady high-speed internet connection and large amounts of data. The major advantages of online backup are that you don’t need any additional devices, and the data is automatically stored in a separate location. Effectively, you’re storing files on servers around the world and you can access them whenever you want from any device with an internet connection. Monthly subscription costs need to be taken into account, and it’s important to choose a reputable service provider. Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, and CrashPlan+ are all worth considering.
6. Network Attached Storage (NAS). This method allows you to set up a ‘personal cloud’ to keep all your business content in one safe place. NAS is a dedicated hard disk storage device which is set up with its own network address outside of your business network. There are no monthly fees or increasing costs, you know exactly where your data is and who has access to it, and most NAS devices come with the ability to schedule regular automatic backups.
Whatever ways you choose to protect critical data, store your backups carefully and in several different locations away from your workplace. Make sure also that your staff or family members know where and how to access them. Stay technologically up-to-date and move your data on to new formats before current ones become obsolete or fail. At least once a year, test your backups to make sure they actually work!