5 Tips for Planning Secure Small Business Storage

— Written by Jill Billhorn

Technology developments in the last few years give today’s small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) many options when it comes to data storage.  The incentive for SMBs to move to the cloud is clear, but security issues often stand in the way of businesses realizing the cloud’s true storage-savings potential.

A recent survey of average American consumers found that some Americans are still wary of cloud computing, despite its advantages – and among those who hardly ever or never use the cloud, security concerns were the second-most reported deterrent.  Common misconceptions regarding cloud security may inhibit small businesses from moving their data to the cloud, and thus prohibit them from realizing significant savings and storage efficiencies. 

Regardless of where a business chooses to store its data, data loss will always be a top security concern for most businesses, in part because it can create financial and operational burdens that result in long-term harm to the organization.  When conventional firewalls and antivirus solutions are no longer sufficient to thwart current threats, it is critical to take advantage of evolving storage and security solutions.  Keep the following tips in mind when selecting a data storage plan – in the cloud or on site – that is best for your small business.

5 Tips for Planning Effective Small Business Storage

1. Categorize and prioritize your data

Small businesses should first categorize data by function and application.  Determine what data your business has and how it is used.  Next, in each category, rank the potential impact to your business should the data in that category become compromised. 

The greater the impact, the more often an organization should back up that particular category.  Upgrading your backup storage systems will also reduce the time required to complete a backup cycle, increasing efficiency and accuracy within the process.  For increased security, store multiple copies of data at a remote site or in the cloud whenever possible

2. Find an expert

There’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” storage solution. When purchasing storage solutions, speak with an expert.  Working closely with vendors and a trusted solutions provider will ensure that you choose the best solution for both your current and future storage needs.  These relationships can also provide further insight into equipment maintenance, troubleshooting processes, storage trends and flexible pricing.

3. Network-Attached Storage (NAS): the SMB’s best friend

Consider replacing file servers with NAS – a hard-disk, file-based data storage solution dispersed throughout a network to handle the increasing amount of data in emails and electronic documents.  As a plug-and-play solution, NAS provides access to various clients quickly by eliminating the task of file serving from other servers on the network – ultimately improving data sharing. 

Most NAS solutions now come with built-in data backup applications for added protection and convenience.  More sophisticated devices include multiple drives that provide more data protection and added capabilities, such as mirroring and expansion opportunity.  Moving forward, more NAS devices will include built-in wireless connectivity, which simplifies data storage and file sharing by providing direct access to data from any location in the office.

4. Prolong the life of existing physical servers

Heat generated by IT hardware, especially when it is confined in small spaces, can reduce the life span of the equipment.  Use blanking panels in server racks and air locking grommets in raised-floor panels to minimize cold air loss.  Keeping the cold air in place will not only extend your equipment’s life span, but it also will reduce cooling costs and increase energy efficiency.

5. Consider the cloud

Cloud storage can be a safe and economical solution for small businesses.  CDW’s Cloud Computing Tracking Poll found that 76 percent of small business cloud users successfully reduced the cost of applications moved to the cloud, and about half of respondents agreed that cloud computing reduced their small businesses’ IT operating costs. 

Cloud storage may also be safer than you think, especially if your business takes proactive security steps that focus on preventative measures such as intrusion detection, password changes, encryption and managed-access to cloud applications

The more your small business grows, the more accessible your data becomes. Staff members exchanging documents and information throughout the organization will increase storage volumes exponentially, and secure data storage can be the difference between new opportunities and closing your doors for good.  Take advantage of available solutions, and don’t be afraid to ask tech experts for help – your employees, clients and data will be happy that you did.

Jill Billhorn, is the vice president of small business at CDW.

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