If you’ve ever lost business data to a hard drive crash to virus, you know how important regular computer backup is.
Here’s a closer look at small business backup solutions and how to decide what’s right for you.
1. Hard Drives
Plug an external hard drive into your computer’s USB port, and you can manually copy data onto the drive or set it to back up automatically at set times. An external hard drive can be a good solution for a one-person business. If you have multiple computers, you’ll need a hard drive for each one. Get a drive big enough to hold all the files, applications and system software currently on the computer hard drive, plus space for new data.
- Affordable. Good-quality external hard drives start at about $100 for 1TB of storage.
- Secure. An external drive can’t be hacked unless someone gains physical access to it.
- Storage. Adding storage space requires buying more drives, which can get cumbersome.
- Disaster protection. A fire or flood that wipes out your computer will also destroy the external hard drive unless you take it home every night.
- Physical risk. External hard drives can fail just like internal drives.
- Responsibility. You’re the only one who can access the drive, but you’re also responsible for securing it, ensuring industry standard compliance and making sure backups work properly.
- No remote access. You can’t back up data to the external hard drive at the office when you’re on the road or at home.
2. Network-Attached Storage
Network-attached storage (NAS) devices are suitable for businesses with more than one computer. The device connects to your computer network to share and store files. There are slots for multiple hard drives to expand storage. Small business NAS devices typically range from $500 to $2,000, encrypt data and include redundant components to protect against hardware failure. You can set up multiple NAS devices (such as one on-site and one offsite) and sync them online or over your VPN.
- Cost. As with hard drives, there are no ongoing costs once you’ve purchased the NAS device.
- Disaster proof. Some NAS devices are guaranteed to withstand certain types of disasters such as fires or floods.
- Complexity. Unless you are tech-savvy or have an IT person on staff, this may not be the right option for you.
- Cost. Upfront costs are higher than for cloud or external hard drive backup systems.
3. Cloud backups
Cloud backup solutions for small businesses abound. Subscribe to the service, download the app and configure your settings, and the business data you choose is automatically backed up to the cloud at specific times. Typically, you get limited storage for free and pay a monthly fee for more.
- Low or no upfront costs. Monthly costs are minimal; in some cases, free cloud backup might be all you need.
- Lower labor costs. No need for an IT employee to manage it; cloud solutions are simple.
- Offsite storage. Since data is stored at the cloud provider’s location, disasters or theft won’t hurt your data.
- Remote access. You and your employees can back up your data to the cloud from any device, anywhere with an Internet connection, so you don’t have to worry about human error.
- Support. Cloud backup services offer customer service and support. Look for a range of contact options such as phone, chat and email.
- Privacy. You’re giving the cloud backup service access to your data, so be sure they take adequate security measures such as Secure Socket Layer (SSL), at least 256-bit data encryption and industry-standard security levels.
- Disaster risk. Disaster can strike cloud backup services, too. Make sure the company has a disaster recovery plan, uses redundant hardware and stores your backups both at their facility and offsite.
Best of Both Worlds
For maximum security, consider using a cloud backup system in combination with an external hard drive or NAS. Whichever option/s you choose, remember to:
- Know how much data you need to back up. This determines storage needs and costs.
- Look for a solution that can grow affordably with your business.
- Regularly check to make sure backups are actually happening and that you can access backed-up data easily.