Published February 9, 2012

Small Business Data Backup Tips

Every day you operate your small business, you likely create a plentiful load of electronic data. Unless you prefer living in the dark ages where proprietors used bound financial journals, hand-written receipts, and pen-and-ink address books, you most likely create a large amount of digital data during the course of business operations.

While the computer has made small business functions much easier and efficient, it has created another issue when it comes to saving data and backup storage. There is no telling when a sudden power surge may strike your electrical lines. Or worse yet, when a thief may strike your business location. Do you have a small business data backup plan to recover from such a disaster?

You should have a sound disaster recovery plan and a strategic and small business data backup routine. Here are some tips to get you started.

What Should You Backup?

This should be posed in a different and more profound question: what can you afford to lose? If lightening struck this very moment, can you survive with the lost data you would suffer? Most people complain of working on a spreadsheet or document all morning when suddenly it was lost in a power-outage. But can you afford to lose the following?

  • Financial transaction data: Every day, you are likely selling items or services and collecting cash, check, or credit card payment data. And like most small businesses, you probably use a point of purchase software that records these transactions and saves digitally.
  • Customer Contact information: Whenever you collect customer information, whether it is simple contact info or even detailed health information, you will likely keep it locked under a digital file.
  • Databases: Within any business practice, you likely have at least one database you should keep under backup storage.
  • Proprietary software: Perhaps your small business has developed a proprietary software application. This programming and related files most certainly should be kept with your small business backup.
  • Important creative intellectual property: Other information that should be kept with backup storage is any digital information about intellectual property. That may be patent applications, product design specs, etc.
  • Media files: If your small business produces videos, takes photos, or makes original audio recordings, you likely store these types of media on digital files. Backup storage of these important files can save much money and time from trying to re-create these priceless files.

Backup Processes

Small business data backup storage media can fall under many categories. What type of backup storage will you use?

CD-ROMs/DVD-ROMs
The most common type of backup storage media is the CD-ROM or the DVD-ROM. Both can store a large amount of data; they are cheap, are easily purchased at most any store, and most all computers can write to unused DVD or CD-ROM media.

However, small business owners should take warning about this type of digital backup storage. Despite their prevalence in stores and popularity, they are one of the least reliable types of digital backup storage media.

Why? First of all, they are fragile. If data is stored solely on a DVD-ROM and the disk breaks or even bends too far, the data stored on it is lost and never recovered.

Secondly, despite the common beliefs that CD-ROM and DVD-ROM media can last up to 100 years or more, the truth is that this media deteriorates mush faster. Recent studies have shown that data lasts about five to ten years. Think carefully if you want to trust your small business data backup needs to such faulty media.

External Hard Drives
External hard drives are one of the most dependable types of backup storage. They are mass-produced, so the cost of these digital storage devices has dropped to an all-time low. You can easily by hundreds of gigabytes, even TERABYTES of storage for just a few hundred dollars. This was unheard of even five years ago!

Tape
Digital backup tapes may be old-school, but they have proven for decades as one of the most dependable backup storage media. Tapes and digital tape drives may be expensive, but the cost is worth the investment if you have important small business data backup needs.

Online Data Backup Services
There are online data backup storage services that have become popular within recent years. While this type of data storage is cheap and readily available through any internet connection, stop to consider whether the company will be around tomorrow. The company could go under, you could suffer a power outage and not have internet access to your backup storage data, or worse.

Of course, there are benefits to storing in the cloud; namely, your data survives, even if your entire facility is hit with a disaster and all of your systems and physical backup materials perish.

The best bet is to utilize a dual approach to backing up your important data, taking advantage of both online backup services and your own physical backup copies as well.