Remember the Ice Storm from a few years ago?
If you need a refresher of what things looked like see this
Canada link. The images of the broken power lines epitomize
what can happen to small businesses if they don't have a
back up solution that is reliable.
Backup solutions are often overlooked by small
businesses. Big or small, all businesses rely on their data
including documents, correspondence, accounting information,
contacts, and product information.
Most small businesses use electronic tools
in fact, you're using one now by reading this
article on the Internet or via email. Every day people write
letters, information sheets, and create content for Web
sites. Or they produce intricate presentations for potential
clients that generate sales. Company bookkeepers log hours
recording data. And the common thread in all these activities
is that they all use a computer - and store the data on
When your work is done and on the computer
could possibly be an issue? What could go wrong and cause
problems for you and your business?
If you didn't create a backup, there are a number of events
that could lead to the ultimate end of your business. Some
of the most common reasons for recovering data from a backup
- Hardware failure (often due to age)
- Electrical surge
- Viruses, spyware, malware
- Component failure that does not render your data damaged,
such as a non-functioning video card (it's hard to work
on your computer when you can't see what you're doing)
So, what is the ultimate solution to these
and many other issues that can creep up on businesses that
don't take adequate measures to protect their data?
A backup solution of course!
You need to consider what you need to backup?
I've touched on most of the items that are important to
businesses, but also consider:
- Addresses/Address Book/Contact Manager Data
- Documents (ones you create and especially ones you receive
from other sources, including quotes/invoices/forms/surveys/correspondence)
- Anything that was created by or for you that would require
your time, energy, and/or money to re-create
- Driver disks for your hardware such as printers, scanners,
- Software applications that you use, whether store bought
or downloaded from the Web
- A "snapshot" of your correctly configured
computer system, with all the applications you use installed
and peripherals setup the way you like them
Traditionally, organizations invested large
sums of money in data backup solutions by purchasing tape
drives, software, and tapes. Just ten years ago the cost
of implementing an effective backup solution would have
cost more than $1500 for a single desktop computer. Today,
with common technology such as CD or DVD burners, backup
solutions can be in place for less than $300, and replacement
media costs are a couple of dollars as opposed to $30-$50.
There are a number of solutions using today's
technology to make backup as easy and painless as recording
your favourite television show so you can enjoy it later.
An inexpensive, but far from perfect solution
is to collect the data you want to keep and burn it to a
CD, DVD, or any other piece of removable media. For the
most part you'll have to hunt for things like your mail
box, contacts, and bookmarks. You'll also need to remember
where your accounting package keeps its data and export
specific parts of the Windows registry if you want the most
protection you can get.
Backup software is recommended for these tasks
to minimize the amount of interaction and therefore provide
no variation from one backup to the next. Some solutions
can be configured to run unattended, during lunch for example,
or for users who don't have a consistent schedule a desktop
icon will run the backup at the click of a mouse. This solution
requires the computer user to insert a CD before the process
starts and to store it afterwards in a safe location.
Other backup solutions require no interaction.
The data is backed up to a second hard disk either in the
same computer system or another computer on the network
(if there is one). This solution does not provide protection
against fire, theft, or any type of physical damage or loss.
For this protection, you must connect an external
backup device before the backup starts and then disconnect
it and store in a safe place once the backup is complete.
The simpler your back up system is, the more
likely it's going to get done regularly. After all, how
much data can your business afford to lose?