For millions of small businesses in the United States, their data is their lifeblood – small businesses wouldn’t be able to operate without it.
To put this in perspective, think of a healthcare provider that relies on patient records to properly care for clients. Another example is a local insurance agency that needs its clients’ policy information to address emergency situations and provide assistance. Protecting business-critical data is just as important to these small businesses as it is to major corporations like Target or Sony.
Unfortunately, not all small business owners understand the importance of having business-grade data protection. If they don’t make use of a backup solution, they risk losing their businesses by leaving data open and vulnerable to threats.
These threats, like natural disasters, data theft, cyber security breaches, and user error, have the potential to destroy computers, devices, and ultimately, those ever-important business records. Luckily, there are a couple of different approaches to keeping business-critical data safe.
Device Data Backup
In 2015, external hard drives and USB devices are essentially commodities—everybody’s got them—making them an inexpensive option for small business owners who can’t always afford the same kind of IT support as large companies. They’re also accessible.
External hard drives aren’t rocket science, and with their software-enabled plug-and-play design, they can sometimes be even easier to use than most tablet computers. Data backup through a device is also secure. You know exactly where your data is being stored, and you don’t have to depend on a third party to protect or retrieve your data.
Things to consider:
There are however a few cons associated with device data backup. For example, while this type of backup plan is fine for when software glitches and user errors occur, a physical device alone cannot ensure that your data is safe from fires, floods or natural disasters.
As disk drives, these systems are also built—and priced—for a specific amount of storage space. In order to protect all of your business data on an external hard drive or USB, you might find yourself needing to purchase multiple devices after reaching maximum capacity on each existing drive. And unfortunately, if and when questions arise, many of these devices offer limited tech support, which can be extremely troubling when dealing with data loss.
Additionally, this type of backup is also 100 percent reliant on the user – data is only protected if and when users remember to plug the device in and run the backup. For business owners who often have a lot on their mind, this important step can easily be forgotten.
Cloud Service Backup
One of the advantages to employing cloud-based backup for businesses large and small is the “set it and forget it” design, which does need to be monitored by an IT consultant.
For the small business, all that is required for most services is a simple installation of a small piece of software, and possibly the employment of an IT professional for proper management.
Potentially the most important aspect of cloud-based data backup is the protection it provides in case of fires and natural disasters. While external hard drives and other device backup solutions can easily be destroyed in a tornado or fire—taking all of your data down with it—with a backup service, your documents and files remain safe in the cloud, despite any damage caused onsite.
File sync and share, a feature that’s becoming increasingly popular among backup vendors, and one that is unavailable through device backup, is an additional bonus to cloud backup, making it simple for business owners to share large files with clients, customers and collaborators, without having to send enormous email attachments.
Things to consider:
Although cloud-based backup has plenty of advantages, it can be attained for a nominal fee or in contrast, depending on the amount of data it can be costly. While solution providers typically use some form of encryption during the backup process, there is always a risk of human error.
For example, an employee unknowingly inviting malware into the network via an infected email, attachment or download can overthrow the entire backup operation. It’s important to read the fine print when signing on with a service provider. Your business and customer data at stake, so make sure you’re comfortable with all the terms you’re agreeing to, including where your data will be stored and for how long.
Reach out to other business owners to find an IT service provider who can monitor your IT environment and deploy the right solutions for your business.
Ultimate Data Protection
All things being equal, the most effective route to data backup and protection is a hybrid approach. Investing in a high-capacity backup device alongside a cloud backup service can provide small business owners with the complete, well-rounded security needed to keep corporate data safe.
Just because your business is small does not mean you aren’t at risk for data loss. Whichever route best suits your business’ needs and goals, you need to deliberate, decide, and invest in order to protect your critical business data and keep your business afloat in times of trouble.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Neal Bradbury, Co-Founder and VP of Channel Development at Intronis, is responsible for generating greater business value for the Intronis MSP partner community and alliance partners. Neal has more than 15 years of experience in networking, security, integration, and systems management. Prior to co-founding Intronis, Neal worked at Hasbro Inc. and at General Dynamics Electric Boat, where he was a Systems Engineer working on combat systems of the Virginia-class submarine. Neal has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Connect with @IntronisInc on Twitter.