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Cost-effective ways to back up your business data

We deal with a lot of startups and new businesses here at New Jersey Computer Help. We like enabling this type of business in what is their most exciting and innovative time. We manage their IT and keep everything running smoothly while the business concentrates on generating ideas and growth. It’s a match made in heaven.

One of our main areas of expertise is data backups and recovery. As even the smallest business generates a lot of data, keeping it all safe is of paramount importance both for operational purposes but also for legal and reputation reasons. New Jersey has quite strict data laws and they are changing all the time. Even small businesses need to comply with these.

That’s why data recovery and backups are such big news. You can run a backup so you don’t lose essential information but also so you don’t lose your business license or livelihood too!

What data do you need to back up?

What data you should back up depends on your business. Every company of every size needs to identify the data it needs to operate and assess its own individual needs. Typically, data requiring back would include:

  1. Product or service designs and schematics.
  2. Customer database and customer documents.
  3. Employee and healthcare database and supporting documents.
  4. Emails and correspondence.

This list would likely be longer for most as this is the absolute minimum. You should add anything that would impact your productivity if you lost it and anything likely to be required in e-discovery or legal proceedings.

Some businesses, mainly in regulated industries, will have extra demands for data retention. That can include all financial records, all customer correspondence, any legal documentation and all manner of data. Much depends on your line of work.

The ideal backup scenario

In a perfect world, every business would use a similar model to backup their data. This model would include regular backups performed automatically and in a specific sequence. The result would be a fully robust business that is capable of surviving anything.

That scenario looks like this:

  1. Data is kept on the server to be used as required.
  2. A copy is taken automatically every day and kept in a safe place.
  3. A cloud copy is taken every hour or day and maintained in secure storage.

The frequency of backups depends on how often the data changes. For data that isn’t regularly modified, daily or weekly backups may suffice. For data that changes more often, daily or even hourly backups may be required.

What should be mandatory is making two copies of everything. One to be stored elsewhere on site and another stored elsewhere off site. If anything happens to a server you can use the local copy to restore service quickly. If anything happens to the building or you experience a true disaster recovery scenario, you have an offsite copy to use as required.

How to back up data cost-effectively

We fully appreciate that startups won’t have the resources for enterprise-level backup services as they can be very expensive. You don’t have to use those until you’re at a size where it makes sense. You can start small and work your way up to that.

LAN storage

If you have a small business network, setting up LAN storage is very straightforward. This uses a separate computer or server whose sole job is to take backups and store them safely. It should be in a different room from your main operations and kept in a locked cage or otherwise physically secured. It should be set to take backups on a schedule that makes sense to your business and be maintained along with the rest of your IT.

LAN storage can cost less than $300 to set up, which isn’t a lot considering how much losing that data could cost you.

If LAN storage isn’t an option, you can use USB storage, a separate hard drive on your main computer or tape if you have one lying around. These are less than ideal as they require more manual input but can work if LAN storage does not.

Cloud storage

As well as your onsite backup, you should really have a cloud backup with a reliable provider. The transport medium should also be secure, using VPN or other encrypted link. The storage should be business grade and also be encrypted. The passwords should be maintained by as few people as possible for security.

Google Cloud Storage is a cost-effective cloud backup option that costs from as little as $0.007 per GB. It can be configured to back up automatically, has no maximum storage limit and can back up any file type. It’s a viable option for many small businesses, especially if you use G Suite or other Google product.

Other options include Dropbox, OneDrive, Backblaze, Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) and a range of others. There are hundreds of cloud storage providers out there and some may be better than this list for your particular needs. Check out as many as you can before signing up. Most will offer a free trial so you can try before you buy.

Not backing up your data is never an option. Losing precious information could cost your business dearly in lost productivity, lost reputation, fines or worse. As you could set up a complete backup solution for your business and automate it for less than $400, it makes sense to invest that much in keeping your business going.

If it all sounds like too much work or you just don’t have time to do this yourself, New Jersey Computer Help. We can visit your premises, assess your needs and design a backup solution to fit. Call us to see what we could do for you!

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