Introduction. Read on and learn some facts about backup and recovery that could protect your small business.

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2 Introduction No business can afford to lose vital company information. Small-business owners in particular must take steps to ensure that client and vendor files, company financial data and employee records are up to date and stored in a secure location. What might damage a large enterprise could destroy a small business. Downtime and reduced productivity usually result in lost revenue. What small-business owners need to ask themselves is What would happen if the server crashed or a flood or fire completely destroyed everything in the building? And how could business continue during a power outage? All small-business owners need backup plans. Sadly, they don t all have them. Creating and implementing a backup and recovery plan for a business is time well spent, considering the consequences of not having one. Read on and learn some facts about backup and recovery that could protect your small business.

3 Murphy s Law Applies to Everyone According to backup and restore service provider Carbonite, nearly 70% of business professionals have experienced or will experience data loss as the result of accidental deletion, disk or system failure, viruses, fire, or some other disaster. A business owner who hasn t prepared for one of those possibilities by backing up his company s data and server(s) is taking an unnecessary risk with not only his career but also the careers of his employees. No one can predict when disaster might strike, especially when it comes at the hands of another human being. For example, 40% of small to medium businesses that use the Internet for more than and have staff IT teams managing their networks will have those networks accessed by hackers, and more than half will be unaware of the attacks, according to Gartner. Small-business owners who are committed to the success of their businesses must take into consideration all possible threats when devising their backup plans. Tape Backup Tape Backup vs. Cloud Backup Tape drive backups are the most common form of system backup. The problem with tape drive backups is that every one will fail at some time or another guaranteed. That s why IT professionals, whether on staff or outsourced, must conduct regular checks to ensure two things: the data are being backed up, and the data can be recovered in a usable form when needed. Too often, people assume that because they followed all of the necessary steps in the proper order that their systems are being backed up as expected. Only when disaster strikes do they realize that months or even years worth of important company information is nowhere to be found. That s the real disaster. No business that has sustained a substantial data loss has ever fully recovered, and some don t recover at all. They shut down and leave dozens or even hundreds of people without jobs. Since tape drives don t have alert systems that let users know when something has gone wrong during the backup process, IT professionals must check them every day.

4 That s the only way to ensure that all files have been properly backed up in viable, recoverable forms. Another drawback to tape drives is their sensitivity to heat, moisture and dust. Storing them onsite would defeat the purpose of conducting backups in the first place. So, they get transported off site by a company executive who forgets and leaves them in her car in the middle of summer or tosses them into her purse or brief case. Sensitive data like client information must be encrypted. Modern tape drives are more durable and reliable and facilitate encryption. So, using tape drive backups isn t the worst possible backup plan a business owner could choose, but there is a safer alternative. Cloud Backup Because no physical transportation of stored data takes place, a cloud backup solution, by its very nature, starts out as a safer option than a tape drive backup solution. All of the data stored on a company s server is copied, encrypted and then transferred electronically to a secure data center that s located in an area that has a low incidence of natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods and hurricanes and is far away from the client organization. Although it s still important to ensure that files are indeed being backed up as expected, no longer does anyone have to worry about losing valuable company information because of dust or condensation. Managed IT services providers often include cloud backup solutions in their overall client service packages. Cloud backups occur unobtrusively either late at night when the office is empty or after each time someone adds or updates a file. It depends on each client s preferences and needs. External Hard Drives, Disks and USB Memory Sticks The old adage about not putting all eggs into one basket applies to data, too... sort of. For example, some IT experts believe that ultra-sensitive information such as employee records that contain home addresses and Social Security numbers probably shouldn t be stored in the cloud. Saving such files to an external hard drive, disk or USB memory stick might be problematic for a large enterprise, but it s an option worth considering for a small-business owner, even if it s only used as a secondary backup to the cloud solution.

5 Highly sensitive files, whether stored on hard drives, disks or memory sticks or in the cloud, should always be encrypted and or password protected. Only a limited number of people should have access to the encryption keys and passwords. The drawback to using external hard drives, disks or USB memory sticks is that they re easy to transport, which means anyone could either accidentally or deliberately walk off with a company s most sensitive information before anyone knew what had happened. Locking such items away in a fireproof, air-tight safe would be wiser. Business executives who routinely take home company files that have been backed up on external hard drives, disks or USB memory sticks increase the risk that the information will become lost or stolen. This actually happened to someone who left external hard drives in the back of his truck. When his truck got stolen, all of his company s important files got stolen with it. Having his company s files additionally backed up in a data center could have saved his business from going under. Things You Should Know The following list of helpful hints comes from Eric Nagel of OnlineBackupsReview.com When implementing a cloud solution for the first time, be prepared to wait a while. The initial backup can take a while, weeks or months. While it's great to have your data backed up to another location, the time it takes to transfer these files can hurt. Make sure you backup both locally (to an external hard drive) and remotely. Be conscious of upload speeds. Some services (directly, not MSPs) offer unlimited online backup, but throttle (or limit) your upload speed so much that it's not possible to upload all of your data. Basically, you're creating data faster than you can upload it, even if you leave your computer on 24/7, uploading to the service provider. Make sure your unlimited online backup provider does not throttle upload speeds. Keep track of data encryption keys. Most of the time, the provider can decrypt the data if presented with a court order. But if the user holds the private encryption key, only the user can decrypt it. That also means if the key is lost, the data cannot be decrypted by anyone. These next set of tips comes from Adam Schwam, president of managed IT services provider Sandwire Corp.

6 Make sure you re backing up everything. In most cases, just backing up your documents folder is not sufficient because your e- mail and Outlook data are stored in a different location. Although a business data are backed up, its entire server infrastructure is not being backed up. This means that if a catastrophic event occurs and the entire server fails, only having the data will not make for a quick restore. In that event, the entire operating system, all of the software, users and permission, applications and internal settings will need to be reprogrammed in order to restore the data to a location that is useable, which is no small task. A complete back up of the entire infrastructure should be completed on a regular basis to ensure simple and easy restoration. How many past versions of a document can be backed up? In some cases, backup programs only save the most recent version of the file and not any previous ones. How long are data actually stored? If your files are stored for a fixed period, they may not be available when you need them. Can open files be backed up? If you are using Quicken and the file is open, many backup programs may not back that file up. Conclusion Backing up company data is important. Small-business owners have a lot to think about when considering what kind of backup solution or combination of solutions would work for them. Those who aren t sure where to begin should know that MSPs typically offer prospects free or no-obligation consultations to help them choose the right backup and recovery solutions for their businesses. ulistic.com (416)

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