Backing up to an external drive
Today, one of the most common ways for home and small business users to back up their data is onto an external HDD. These are inexpensive, reasonably fast, easy to store and transport, and usually more convenient than lower-capacity removable media like optical disks and memory cards.
Depending on your business needs, grabbing a handful of external drives and backing up files over USB once or twice a week might be more than enough to fulfil your recovery time and point objectives. Just remember to store at least one of them off-site or in a fireproof safe.
It’s worth noting here that a ton of free and commercial software exists to make the process of backing up simpler and more efficient.Windows Backup, which is built into modern versions of Windows, is one such example, as is Apple’s Time Machine. Using a particular app to copy data is rarely required, but you might find it makes life easier in the long run.
Backing up to NAS
If you don’t want the hassle of juggling individual drives, consider backing up to a network attached storage (NAS) device. NAS is a simple way to share files between networked computers, usually comprising a bunch of HDDs in a RAID configuration, so it’s a more convenient and resilient choice than a regular external drive.
Some of the best-known NAS vendors include Synology, Drobo and Western Digital, and between them they offer hardware solutions at a wide range of price points. Just remember that if it’s kept in your office, your NAS device is no less vulnerable to fire and flooding than the rest of your network. Make sure you have an off-site copy of your data, too.
Backing up to a cloud service
Finally, you have the option of avoiding hardware spend entirely and using a cloud service in lieu of external drives and other storage media. For many small business users, the cloud has completely revolutionized the process of backing up. It’s now possible, security and compliance concerns notwithstanding, to implement an off-site backup strategy without spending a penny on equipment, transit and rack space. There is a nominal reoccurring fee for storing your data in the cloud, so you will need to do some financial math to ensure the trade off between capital expenditures and operational expenses makes sense for your business.
Obviously, you can rely on almost any cloud storage solution – Dropbox, for example – to back up business data. For best results, though, a cloud backup service built for business is usually the better choice. Countless of these exist, with some of the best-known including Carbonite and Mozy. Just remember to check your contract in detail before committing your sensitive data to a third party provider to prevent any horror stories should you choose to change your storage preferences later on.
Remember, though: the method you use to back up should be secondary to whether or not it meets your needs regarding RPO and RTO. Data loss and downtime can be enough to bring a small business to its knees, and it’s a much better value proposition to spend a little now versus a lot later. The good news is, you have plenty of viable and cost-effective backup options that can keep your business up and running, while keeping your customers happy.