Affordable, Automated Data Backup for Small Business

The single most important thing you can do to protect your business is to back up your data regularly and consistently. Data backups can prevent the loss of critical, and what might otherwise be irrecoverable, documents in the event of a hard disk crash or theft of a laptop.

Automated data backups can also prevent very real possibility of you going out of business as a result of that kind of loss. Unfortunately, not nearly enough small businesses implement an automated method of backing up their data.

Some small business owners mistakenly believe the cost is prohibitive, while others simply lack the technical know-how. Don’t let these barriers stop you. The cost of lost productivity as you try to piece together the lost data can be unimaginable. In the hope of preventing that, I’ll show you two simple ways to set up an affordable, automated data backup regime in the office.

Sync to the Cloud

For all the hype – and dire warnings – about the cloud, storing data in the cloud is a great way to back up your files. For one thing, you and your employees can access that data from remote PCs or tablets. For another, practically all cloud storage services come with client software that performs real-time document synchronization.

The cost is very affordable too. Pricing ranges from free — for 2GB to 5GB of storage — to low monthly subscriptions for more storage capacity. For example, backing up five PCs (10GB each for a total of 50GB) with Mozy Pro costs $19.99 a month – even less if you opt for a yearly plan.

Of course, you have to be disciplined enough to always store your documents only in protected folders (e.g., the folders on your desktop, laptop or tablet that the backup service synchronizes), or you run the same risk of losing important documents.

Backup to a NAS

The other method of backing up data for a small business requires buying a network attached storage (NAS) appliance. This is a small storage device that you connect to your company’s local area network. You can buy a NAS box for as little as a couple of hundred dollars.

Many of these storage devices come with free software apps that you install onto PCs to perform regular data backups. And some of them, such as LaCie’s CloudBox network attached storage, even include both on-site and cloud backup capability.

Moreover, there are many other free software tools, such as FreeFileSync and AllwaySync, which perform file backups to a dedicated storage device using advanced file detection and optimized copy techniques. Also, look for NAS boxes that support incremental backups as well as Volume Shadow Copy (VSS); the former reduces bandwidth usage while the latter makes it possible to backup a file even if it’s still in use.

Performing regular data backups isn’t as cost prohibitive as some SMBs may believe, and we cannot overemphasize the need for regular, automated data backups. Without automation, those critical files that you want recovered from a hardware failure will almost certainly not be available – or will be hopelessly outdated.

If you haven’t done so yet, it’s time to take action and implement a data backup regime for your small business — before it’s too late.

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.

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