Something Scary for Halloween

It was a dark and stormy night.

Working late, you had almost finished updating your customer database, when lightning struck, and the power went off. After what seemed an eternity of searching for flashlights and candles, the lights came back on. You turned on the computer, accessed the program to complete the job and hand…and found NO FILES in the database!  Was the information stored somewhere on a flash drive? Maybe, but when was the last time it was updated?

Data backup is a lot like flossing. We all know we really should do it, but we tend to forget about it more often than not. When you’re running a business, losing all your data – even on one computer – is a very high cost to pay for procrastination.

Backing up data is about repetition and reliability. Your data backup needs to run automatically and do the job well. Your data should be backed up in a single, reliable location. Instead of each computer having its own backup solution, it’s better to have a specific location backup. Often, a small office may designate one computer on the network to be a file server that the rest of the computers store files on. Ideally, the data on the file server computer should be backed up to an external drive to be stored off-site in case of a disaster at the office location. However, this computer is just as prone to failure as any of the other computers. Also, this computer will be on continuously as well as dealing with multiple file saving locations, and the drive will invariably fail faster.

The best way to convert to a more secure system is to set up a cloud-based syncing program. You may have an onsite backup hard drive; but when was the last time you checked to make sure it even worked? People often discover that the server or external hard drive that they’ve been backing up to has failed – and discover it while they’re trying to recover data.

Cloud backup doesn’t depend on the infallibility of a single computer. Once you have it set up on the computers you need to back up, you can just forget about it. Syncing is all automatic so you won’t have to deal with the possibility of forgetting a nightly backup or an employee forgetting to save to the backup server. One downside to relying entirely on cloud-based backup solutions is that you have to be connected to the internet for it to work. There are many options available for backing up data to “the cloud”, some are purchased by monthly or annual subscription based on the amount of data to be stored, while others are free for a limited amount of storage. This CNET article talks about some of the options available at http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-33153_7-57387515-10391733/reader-poll-whats-the-best-free-online-backup-solution/.

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