Data Back-up

Backing up critical business data is one of those things that most people know they should be doing, but many either don’t get around to it often enough or fail to follow a routine schedule. But because hard drive and server failures are more likely to occur than not for most companies, the importance of establishing (and following) a backup schedule can’t be underestimated.

To protect data against the risk of loss, a number of procedures and technologies should be used in combination. Evaluating the importance of the data, the potential business effects of data loss and regulatory requirements for data retention will help you design an effective blend of short- and long-term electronic storage and backup procedures and technologies.

Tape Backup

While disk-based storage technologies are gaining traction in the market, tape-based storage remains the most common choice for small and medium-sized companies. Although disk storage systems offer the capability of restoring lost data more quickly than tape, tape systems are generally less expensive than disk storage and remain a popular method of archiving data that may not be needed immediately.

Another advantage of tape is that the cartridges can be moved easily to a different geographical location for long-term storage to prevent a fire or natural disaster from destroying a company’s primary and backup storage media in the same incident. Many providers will pick up backup tapes and transport them to a neighboring state, for instance, to reduce the risk of damage or destruction.

Tape is often considered a good choice for long-term storage and archiving data that a company may not need to restore or access on short notice.

Online Backup

Online backup services are emerging as a popular alternative for many small and medium-sized businesses. One of the prime advantages of online backup is convenience—you create a schedule for how often you want computers or servers to be backed up, and the backup software uploads a duplicate, encrypted copy of important data to a remote data center.

The speed of online backups offers another advantage over tape drives. Once an initial backup is completed, only files that change are uploaded. Backups can also be scheduled for overnight hours to reduce the chance of a backup disrupting normal business operations.

Another advantage of online backup services is that your storage service provider will likely make an additional encrypted copy when it performs backups on its storage service.

Some business owners may be concerned about the prospect of uploading sensitive corporate data to an outside provider’s servers, but because the data are encrypted before it leaves the company’s network, the storage provider is unable to access any data uploaded by its customers.

Regardless of which method or combination of technologies a company chooses, it’s important to periodically try to recover data to make sure your backup system is working properly. You don’t want to wait until after you’ve lost data to suddenly learn that files you thought were backed are missing as well.

In addition to hard drive failure, business data can be lost or damaged by natural disasters, computer viruses or deliberate or accidental deletion or the theft of IT equipment. Because data are among most companies’ most important business assets, taking steps to back up that data is critical.

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