For those unfamiliar to Source Bottle here’s what their website says:
“SourceBottle is an online service that connects journalists, writers and bloggers with ‘sources’.
We do this by emailing ‘call outs’ for sources from journalists, writers and bloggers to subscribers to the service. We help journalists, writers and bloggers connect with an extensive network of quality sources; and we help subscribers to the service get publicity (or famous, whichever comes first).
For journalists, writers and bloggers…”
Now the question that Steve brought to our attention was, naturally enough, about online backup – specifically for small businesses:
“Data backup is time consuming, and can be costly. Can small businesses back their data up strategically?
As data backup can be a time-consuming and costly exercise for some small businesses, is there any way they can become more strategic about their backup? Are certain sorts of information more important or simpler to back up? Should different types of information be backed up in different ways?”
I was intrigued by the premise and decided to take a crack at answering it, so I wrote a reply and posted it on Source Bottle. I’m not sure if any of the content has been used by whoever put the “call out”, but I it makes the basis for a pretty good blog post. So, with some small editorial changes, here is my response:
Good questions, though I disagree with your premise; backup can be time consuming and expensive, especially for small businesses, but it doesn’t need to be. There are many backup solutions that now make it simple and cost-effective to backup and the ongoing costs are insignificant in relation to how much it could cost if you don’t backup.
We all know that fires, theft, and other disasters can impact a business’s physical assets and small businesses spend tens of millions a year in insurance costs for protection against damage to their physical presence. But the loss of intangible assets, such as financial or customer records can be even more dangerous to a company’s future. What if, after data loss, you were to get sued or audited? What if someone steals your intellectual property and you no longer have the data records to prove your ownership? If you haven’t backed up you, and your employees, could be ruined. Backup is insurance for your electronic assets and in light of the potential for loss, and the affordability of many backup solutions, isn’t it worth the relatively small expenditure of time and money to insure yourself against this kind of disaster?
As far as trying to rank data on a scale of importance, good luck. Because of the intangible nature of electronic information and the rapidly changing business landscape, it’s almost impossible to say whether one type data is more important than another. Flexibility is one of small business’s most important strengths and the ability to rapidly reposition a brand within the market to leverage new trends and opportunities, such as social media, is a huge benefit. But with this flexibility comes danger; the impending demise of del.icio.us and the uncertainty of Twitter’s business model shows that the only certainty in business is uncertainty. A business that is constantly adapting may drift further from it origins and data that used to be critical may no longer seem to be, until disaster strikes. Without a crystal ball it’s impossible to determine whether one type of data is more important than another. If you can’t prioritize how can you strategize? The only way to decide is to choose not to prioritise and assume all your data is as valuable as the rest. While this might put a strain on resources, as archiving all the information generated by a company can be a daunting task, if you choose the appropriate tools it can be simple and inexpensive.
We recommend you use at least two types of backup for all your data; a local “on-site” solution – for speed and convenience – and an “off-site” Internet backup. However, as every business is different we recommend you consult an IT professional for a complete review of your backup needs. Without knowing a company’s specific requirements we can only generalise on a local solution, but we suggest that, as a minimum, you utilise an external hard disc drive for each of the company’s machines, or a server based RAID solution for larger businesses. As mentioned, a cloud based backup solution is needed to provide complete security and there is a plethora of online providers to choose from, among which, there is bound to be one that suits your company’s needs and budget. However, it should be noted that in most cases online backup clients should be installed on ALL of your computers in order to provide secure, consistent coverage and insure against the catastrophic destruction of a business such as we’ve seen with the recent floods.
There are multiple companies and services that automate this process, which means that once they are setup very little is needed in the way of maintenance or monitoring, making the time expenditure a “one off” expense. This automation allows business owners to “set and forget” the system which frees them to run their business secure in the knowledge that their data, no matter how seemingly unimportant it may be, is protected from anything short of a civilisation ending meteor strike.
So yes, backup can be time consuming and expensive, but only if it’s done wrong. Done right it’s affordable, effective, invisible, provides universal protection, and is absolutely vital to ensuring the future success of you company.
As a foot note it seems that the day of unlimited backups may be coming to a close 2, with Mozy changing their policy; though Carbonite seem to be sticking with it. So perhaps with the evolving face of the cloud it may one-day be necessary to be strategic about backup, but we don’t think so. I’d be interested to hear if anyone else either responded to this question or had any thoughts on it or my response.
Till next time, your charming host,