Never have there been more (or better) choices for backing up business data on your computers and other devices. What can be difficult, however, is figuring out what the best option is for your particular business.
Backing up your company information locally and in the cloud, both have their own distinct advantages. Additionally, you can use both options concurrently if that works for you. As businesses evolve, they tend to go through various levels of data backup solutions as their needs grow more complex.
To give you an idea of the options for business data backup, we’ve compiled a short list of the various tiers that businesses commonly progress through. None of these options preclude you from using any of the others simultaneously.
1) External USB Drive
One of the quickest and easiest ways to back up critical files is by plugging a USB drive into a computer. A one-terabyte thumb drive is available on Amazon for thirty dollars. That’s enough storage to back up the entire hard drive for many laptops these days.
If you’re willing to spend more, you can get a small solid-state external drive with anywhere from 500 gigabytes to several terabytes of storage. There is also no shortage of programs for both macOS and Windows to automate the backup process.
Advantages: Inexpensive, portable, and easy to use. Most USB drives are durable and will survive the odd drop or inadvertent dunk.
Disadvantages: USB backup is a single-user solution and doesn’t scale for multi-user scenarios. And as convenient as a thumb drive is, they’re easy to lose if you’re not careful. Check around your couch cushions or under your car seats if one goes missing.
2) Desktop Cloud Backup
Entry-level cloud backup is where many businesses start with backup solutions. Services like Dropbox, Carbonite, and Google Drive are all excellent offerings. Each offers a cloud backup solution that ensures that your files will be recoverable if your desktop or mobile device is lost, stolen, or destroyed.
Using a cloud backup service in conjunction with a USB storage device provides a robust backup solution for many small businesses and self-employed businesses.
Advantages: No physical device to keep track of, and you’ll get far more storage space than what’s available on inexpensive USB drives. Your information will be accessible from anywhere you have an internet connection.
Disadvantages: Backing up individual files and folders doesn’t complete the computer’s restoration. If you don’t have internet access, you won’t be able to access your data.
3) Network-Attached Storage (NAS)
Network-attached storage (NAS) is an excellent multi-user local backup solution. Put simply, NAS is a small server that sits in your office. A NAS server creates its own network that users can connect to with valid credentials (username and password). Once connected, users can transfer files to and from the NAS at will.
When you buy a NAS server, you’ll need to buy both the server and the storage drives, which are separate costs. Most NAS servers come with multiple drive bays, so you can add more storage over time.
Many businesses like using NAS because once purchased, there are no monthly fees for cloud storage, and consequently, no third parties are involved in handling data backups. A software backup agent can be installed on users’ computers to automate the backup process.
Advantages: Great multi-user solution. No recurring monthly fees. More storage can be added over time if needed.
Disadvantages: You lose all your data if your NAS is destroyed and you don’t have a secondary backup solution.
4) Offsite Business Data Backup
Offsite data backup is similar to, but distinct from, cloud backup services. Offsite backup is the idea of putting copies of your data on physical media, like tapes or drives, and sending it to another location for safekeeping.
In the event of a disaster where your business’s location is compromised or destroyed, you can have physical backups sent to you from your offsite storage provider. Unlike cloud storage, you will have no access to your stored data daily.
Advantages: In the event of a disaster, there is a recovery option.
Disadvantages: A physical drive or tapes are required to be shipped back to you. Lag time before recovery. Applications and services aren’t covered.
5) Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery (BCDR)
Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery is the cutting-edge backup technology solution. With BCDR, users can be up and running again with little downtime in the event of a disaster or large-scale data loss from a ransomware attack.
BCDR service providers, like Datto, offer proprietary solutions to companies that combine physical devices, cloud storage, and virtualization. This type of solution continuously backs up your entire work environment.
Users can be back up and running minutes after any sort of failure or disaster. A BCDR solution includes access to all files, applications, and services without reinstalling or reconfiguring servers or desktops.
Advantages: Replication, offsite backup, and immediate recovery.
Disadvantages: The most expensive of all the options listed.