Backing Up for Small Business

By | September 2nd, 2016


Labor Day weekend and the end of summer is here. It’s an opportunity to raise our glasses to working people including us. If you’re a small business owner or you’re responsible for data backup at a small business, make sure to take some time to back up your essential data before donning the flip-flops and firing up the grill. Here’s some help getting started.

Small businesses serve a vital role in our economy: According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half the jobs in the United States are because of small businesses, with the number of small businesses increasing 49 percent since the early 1980s.

Here’s another sobering statistic: Lots of businesses never backup their data. One-third, according to one recent survey. Talk about flying without a net! What’s worse, almost half of all businesses only have a single copy of their backup data.

That’s a disaster waiting to happen – don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Your basic backup strategy: 3-2-1

Try to think about your company’s backup in two parts: A local, easily-accessible backup system and one that’s stored offsite. This is the basic idea behind the 3-2-1 Backup Strategy.

1 is your local copy. Users continue to rely on their local data as their primary access.

2 is a local backup. A local backup gives you immediate, instant access to whatever data you might need back, regardless of whether it’s deleted, overwritten, or lost.

3 is a copy stored securely offsite. That way, if anything happens to your location or the equipment at your location, your data is safe and sound. While many businesses still use tape-based backup with offsite rotation, there are now better cloud based solutions for offsite backup.

These days, cloud-based storage is essential. That’s where Backblaze comes into play. We help businesses backup to the cloud safely and securely in our own data center. We offer unlimited backup service for business, with continuous and automatic backups, without data caps or surcharges.

How to backup

An external USB-based hard disk drive is good to store backups for your small business. Just bear in mind that hard drives wear down and stop working, so don’t rely exclusively on this one option. Computers with faster connections (like Macs with Thunderbolt and PCs equipped with eSATA) can use their fastest connections to help cut down backup time.

Built-in software on Macs and Windows PCs backs up your computer’s essential data, which makes recovering easier when problems happen. Third-party backup software options abound depending on your budget and what you’re looking to do. More details are available in Backblaze’s complete guide to computer backups.

Backup software typically does a complete backup of your computer’s essential files, then updates periodically with incremental changes. This way, your external storage doesn’t fill up right away – it only fills up as files change.

USB-based drives tend to fall into the pile of more things to keep track of and probably more importantly you need to remember to use them. So another option is to use Network Attached Storage (NAS) systems like those made by Synology, QNAP and other companies.

NAS systems live on your network, providing pooled storage everyone on the network can use. Software either on the computer or on the NAS itself can be used to back up the computer to the NAS. That way everyone stays backed up and in sync when they’re connected to the network.

Many NAS devices and even some large desktop drives incorporate RAID storage. RAID (“Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks”) systems distribute data across multiple hard drives. RAID systems are more tolerant to failure, because a drive can stop working and can be replaced without the entire system needing to go offline. RAID is one component of our own Storage Pods and Storage Vaults.

What to backup

Any data that’s essential to keeping your business running should be backed up. That includes financial records, customer records, tax forms, sales records and any other information that’s critical to keeping your business working.

It’s a good idea to use encryption to make sure that your business data stays safe, as well. If you’re using Backblaze to backup your business systems, rest assured that encryption is built in, so your data stays safe as houses.

Also bear in mind that a lot of data is stored in the cloud. Take email, for example. Many small businesses rely on Gmail and other services to handle email for them — that data is already on Google’s servers.

Remember that having your business data only in the cloud is a single point of failure. As our 3-2-1 Backup Strategy says, keep data in three places: Your local machine, along with a local backup copy. Make updating that copy a regular part of your backup regimen.

When to backup

The best time to backup is whenever data changes, so a continuous backup system is the best (that’s how Backblaze works unless you tweak the settings otherwise).

Most backup systems work by backing up all of your data once, then incrementally updating only what’s changed or new. Also think about whether you need a backup of your backup. Some businesses make a point to rotate their backups periodically to make sure that even if one backup fails, another can take its place. How much redundancy you want or need is dictated by how much time, money, and equipment you’re willing to invest.

Still have questions? Have specific implementation issues? Give me a heads up in the comments.

Peter Cohen
Peter will never give you up, never let you down, never run around or desert you. He also manages the Backblaze blog.

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Category: Backing Up