One of the most critical areas of a business often forgotten about is its data retention policy and how well business data is backed up. As a small business owner how often do you back up data? Do you have processes in place to ensure your data is backed up on a regular basis or does it require your manual intervention to make sure it is done? 

We are all good at what we do – it’s one of the reasons why we have chosen to go out on our own – however, at the same time there are some tasks we’re not so good at, and often neglect.  Backups are one area I see neglected in many small businesses. 

When it comes to backing up your business data there are many different ways, depending on the size and how your business operates. Some choose to use the backup system built into their antivirus and internet security programs installed on their machines; others choose to use options such as storing files and documents in an online storage account such as Dropbox; others may just back up locally to a USB storage device; while those with servers in their business may be backing up to magnetic tape media. 

However with the continuous growth of internet technologies such as cloud computing, backing up your businesses data to the cloud is becoming a more popular and viable option – and this trend is set to continue. So what is appealing about cloud backup? 

Why back up data to the cloud?

Backing up your businesses data to the cloud doesn’t only mean you have a place to store your data; it also provides your business with more continuity-planning and disaster-recovery options than backing up to a USB device. It better equips your business to cope with unforeseen events such as losing a laptop or  losing equipment in a fire, which would normally impact you on getting your business operational again. 

It also removes the risk involved with backing up to a USB device and then carrying this around with you, and/or forgetting to take it home with you each night. 

The other advantage is: it’s automatic. You can choose to have continuous backup without manual intervention. This means any changes to files are automatically backed up based on a schedule. If you were backing up to a local USB device generally this wouldn’t happen unless you manually completed it. But the biggest advantage of cloud backup is that your data is stored off-site away from the business! 

What can be backed up to the cloud?

With cloud backup not only can you back up your important business files from multiple PC and MAC computers, there are options to back up full images of your server(s), which can be restored at anytime you need. 

Security of backing up to the cloud

Many people are concerned that when they back up their data to the cloud it means that other people can easily get access to their information because the cloud is a shared space by all. 

The security of cloud environments is more secure than most internal IT environments; some will even have military-grade security. Data stored in the cloud is secure and generally encrypted with passwords/keys that only you have access to. 

When looking to back up data to the cloud you should make sure:

  • Your backup provider has multiple encryption levels for your data at the local, in-transit and storage stages for total protection.
  • Check the redundancy of their infrastructure (how is their infrastructure supported in the event of downtime?) to make sure your data is available should you need to restore it.
  • Check their levels of compliance to make sure that your data is secured and stored appropriately for any government or industry regulations (such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, SSAE 16 and the PCI Compliance Guide).
  • Make sure the provider uses a compression system to back up your data, this will ensure only necessary changes to data are backed up and also keeps your transfer rate to a minimum. 

At the end of the day, how you back up your data is up to you, but with technology moving in the direction of cloud-based environments and less in-house IT, practices such as backing up to the cloud are viable and cost effective options for most small businesses. 

What’s your preferred way to back up data? Would you consider backing up your data to the cloud?

“ The biggest advantage of cloud backup is that your data is stored off-site away from the business. ”
 
Ben Choy

Ben Choy is an experienced IT Professional and is the Managing Director of Otilas who provide custom Web & Mobile Application Development, Managed IT & Cloud Computing Solutions.

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