Tips for Backing Up Your Company Data
The reliability of data stored on a computer system is critical for business organisations. It can be viewed in a similar manner as insurance. If the data is lost and cannot be recovered, the entire business could be lost.
Think of a worst case scenario. The hurricane Sandy struck the United States in October 2014, causing $62 billion in damage. New York City suffered particularly severe damage. Business organisations which had their computer data backed up and stored onsite could easily have lost everything. Worse still, the damage may well have rendered replacement equipment unavailable. In a situation like this, only data stored in a remote or cloud location could have survived. This is what makes cloud computing and backup services particularly useful. But more about this later in the article.
As you can appreciate, loss of data is not limited to equipment failure or neglect. Data backup can also be destroyed by fire or natural disasters.
Depending on the size of your business and the amount of data that need to be safe guarded, backup media ranges from small pluggable devices to large physical storage devices with removable media. Some methods of backing up data to media includes:
- Portable devices ranging from USB memory sticks, CD-RW (which typically store up to 700MB), and DVD-RW, which can store up to 15.9GB. While they offer a small storage capacity, their main advantage is that these devices can be kept in a briefcase and carried off site, away from potential disasters like theft, fire, or flooding
- USB disk drives, including Solid State Disk Drives (SSD). These devices are typically left attached to an office computer and do not offer sufficient protection on their own. For the same reasons listed above, they can be subjected to theft, fire, or natural disasters
- Network storage devices. One or more disk drive can be connected to an office network. If located in the same premises as the network itself, they offer no protection against theft, fire, or natural disasters
- Cloud server storage. This is an external service provided by a cloud storage provider. Cloud backup has two main advantages; firstly, the data storage is located remotely from the business premises, and secondly, it can be accessed from anywhere using a mobile device.
Backup programs are included with different operating systems. Some of the popular programs include:
- Apple Time Machine. This program is included with Apple computers that run OSX version 0.5 or later. It can back data up to any storage device using a USB or Wi-Fi interface
- Windows 7 Backup and Restore. This program is included with the Windows 7 operating system. The program can back data up to a hard disk or DVD-RW
- Crash Plan. This is a commercial program for backing data up to a USB hard disk and will work on Mac, Windows, and Linux systems. A remote backup service is available for a monthly fee.
Before considering any one of these programs, users should think of how and where the backup data is physically stored to safeguard it from theft, fire, and natural disasters.
The backup configuration chosen largely depends on the amount of data to be stored and its importance to the business. Business owners should also be aware that the cost per gigabyte of backup storage has reduced significantly.
There are many different methods of backing up data, and it would make sense to consult an expert company before deciding on a final configuration. The following methods are available, but are only summarised in this article:
- Direct connect storage. This involves a storage device that is connected to a computer or server, normally via USB 2.0 or 3.0 peripheral port. While this may satisfy smaller amounts of data storage, the major concern that needs to be considered is the physical location of the backup data and the need to have the data duplicated and stored off site
- Network attached storage. This method uses one or more storage devices connected to a network server. The data backed up can be synchronised with commercial software. The physical location of the backup data is also a concern with this method
- Disaster protected storage. This method uses hardened hard disk drives, which can withstand fire for up to 30 minutes
- Online backup storage to a cloud server. Not all cloud storage services are equal. Some offer only incremental backup of the most recent version of documents and files. This isn’t a solution for applications such as accounting, where historical data can be retrieved from anywhere using a mobile device. With a proper choice of vendor, you can also ensure that the backup data is stored in a remote location, which reduces the risk of damage caused by natural disasters. Backup routines can be scheduled to start automatically at set intervals. Good Internet bandwidth is required if large files are stored and retrieved. IT professionals are concerned with two aspects of cloud services – the first is that the management of enterprise data is outsourced to an external party, and the second is related to the security of Internet connections
- Image based backup. This type of system takes a ‘snapshot’ of software applications as well as data. This technology offers fast backup and recovery
- Granular file and application recovery. This type of system provides recovery that is faster than the retrieval of a complete volume or database
- Storage tape or external hard disk drives with removable storage media. This is more suitable for a larger IT department. Backup data can be stored onsite and duplicated for off site storage.
There are also systems that offer access control, data encryption and auditing.
To summarise, small business owners should ensure their data is protected from the following risk scenarios:
- Loss of data caused by neglect or equipment malfunction, and
- Loss of data caused by theft, fire, or natural disasters.
The second scenario necessitates that data is stored in a different location from where the computer equipment is installed.
It is always better to have data loss prevention policies in place before there are any issues, this will ensure that your business can minimize its downtime and continue its normal operations. If you got any question or require assistance with your business IT support needs, contact Connected Intelligence