3 Data Backup Facts SMBs Need to Know

By Paul Mah | Posted April 23, 2013

Every small business needs a data backup plan, and it's impossible to understate the importance of that truism. But here's the thing: until a disaster strikes, there's often little apparent difference between a poorly implemented data backup plan and one that was set up properly.

That's why it makes sense for small business owners to learn as much as they can about data backup (or hire someone knowledgeable about such things) before they implement a plan.

According to Dr. Mark Campbell, chief strategy and technology officer of backup vendor Unitrends, there are certain truths that some data backup vendors don't necessarily want businesses to know. We outline three of the most pertinent ones below.

3 Facts About Data Backup

1. TCO: Backup software is just the start

"The cost of your backup software is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of your capital and operating costs," cautioned Campbell.


Depending on the deployment strategy, business owners may have to purchase an application server with the requisite operating system license, a storage controller and possibly even new networking gear to get everything up and running. Factor in the cost for tape cartridges or new hard disk drives, and the figure goes up even higher.

Small and mid-sized businesses need to consider, and budget for, all the components they'll need either to deploy a new backup solution or to set up a replacement. You don't want to be surprised by unexpected costs.

2. Beware of per-client and upgrade fees

Small businesses should avoid backup vendors that use a per-client pricing strategy. Businesses tend to use the same backup solution over a long period of time. As companies grow – as they invariably will – this growth can translate into higher costs that the small business IT budget must accommodate.  

Small business owners should also be aware that many vendors charge upgrade fees for new versions of their backup applications or for new versions of the underlying operating system. Indeed, Campbell said that per-client pricing and upgrade fees are the cash cows of the data backup industry.

3. Slow online recovery

Finally, for all the hype about cloud storage, online backup can be incredibly slow when it comes to data recovery. According to Campbell, it can take a month or more to ship the first terabyte over the Internet.  

Of course, some vendors like Mozy offer a Media Restore service for an additional service fee. That the service even exists pretty much invalidates online restoration as a viable solution for most organizations.  

Ultimately, if you're opting for online data backup solution, make sure that the vendor will courier a copy of your data either on DVD media or on hard disk drives.

Paul Mah covers technology for SMBs for Small Business Computing and for IT Business Edge. He also shares his passion for and knowledge of everything from networking to operating systems as an instructor at Republic Polytechnic in Singapore, and is a contributor to a number of tech sites, including Ars Technica and TechRepublic.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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