Did you know that 51% of companies that suffer severe data loss filed for bankruptcy within two years? That 43% did not even reopen after the disaster?* Firms could have avoided being part of these shocking statistics if they had just considered, even for five minutes, how they are backing up their data.
So, if you don’t want to be part of the 2018 list of mistakes, read on!
*University of Texas 2015
ONLINE BACKUP ACTIVE PROTECTION: Fighting Back Against Ransomware.
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What solutions are there for backing up your data?
Simply explaining the two main options, in-house backup is a data store located in your office or is physically accessible by you. Online backup is the opposite; a remote digital storage facility seemingly impervious to damage. Here are a few examples:
- In-House – A physical server in the office, a hard drive, or a simple USB stick. They are generally backed up physically by a staff member when needed.
- Online – Online cloud servers not physically located anywhere specific, but are a network of physical computers duplicating each other. The data stores in the ‘cloud’ between each server. It can be set to back up automatically overnight or a few times a day.
To better understand which one is best for your business, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.
As mentioned, in-house data backups are data storage devices physically located at your office or property. A great example is the story of the Pixar film Toy Story 2. A user data error deleted the entire project file halfway through film production and was only saved when an employee had the whole movie physically on a hard drive at home as a backup**.
- Back up any time and access data easily. As the data stores in-house, you can access it by turning around behind you or plugging in a USB stick. This allows you unlimited access anytime and can back up items when necessary.
- Cost effective for smaller firms. If you don’t need to back up much data, (under a terabyte) then a physical hard drive would be cheaper than a monthly online data plan. It’s one initial payment vs. an ongoing fee that will surpass the savings in a month or two.
- Does not require an internet connection. An enormous advantage is that your data will be accessible without the internet. Even with a lack of electricity, your data is still present and usable.
- Your sensitive information is physically secure from third parties. If you have a disgruntled ex-employee who remembers passwords or there’s an overzealous competitor, they might be able to access your sensitive data if it’s not physically at your office. An in-house solution protects your data by the adage of “Possession is 9/10th of the law.” If they can’t access it, they can’t get it!
- More expensive to install initially. We mentioned that its cheaper for smaller firms in the long term, but far more costly upfront. For example, an online solution may start from a few dollars a month, but a hard drive server might be hundreds of dollars.
- May require IT support. With all in-house infrastructure, you will need IT support on hand to fix any problems when the system goes down. Naturally, you might be a tech whizz yourself, but that still costs time that could be used to increase your firm’s business.
- Physical space. It may seem obvious, but these servers actually will take up space. If your office is in a premium real estate area (we may not all have expansive lofts!), then you will have to account for the actual room of the equipment. Plus, don’t forget cooling and electricity costs!
- No uptime guarantees. As you maintain the equipment yourself, there is no guarantee that the data will always be available.
- Physically weak. The last and most simple disadvantage is that the data is off-site and any natural disaster can physically destroy your data.
Examples: Physical Server, Hard Drive, USB or DVD
Of course, the alternative to in-house solutions is online backups. This could be a dedicated off-site server or a cloud-based solution.
- Instant install. There’s no need to spend time building physical servers or buying hard drives. Most online data backup platforms will come with a simple program that you install to start backing up. Plus, no costly IT department payroll to run your servers.
- Backup or restore data from any location in the world. Thanks to the lack of physical location, you can access your data anywhere. It’s perfect for businesses on the move or off-site production facilities.
- Unlimited storage. With an in-house physical backup, there is a literal ‘capacity’ point of your drives. Once you pass this point, you need to buy more space. With an online solution, you can keep filling up above and beyond as you need to. You may have to pay for this additional space, but it would certainly be cheaper than the in-house alternative.
- Uptime guarantee. Most platforms will have a ‘guarantee’ of a certain amount of server uptime (Generally around 99%) and will give you plenty of notice if the servers need to undergo maintenance.
- Lastly, the main advantage is that it’s not physically at your office. If there is a flood or fire, your data is physically safe.
- The main drawback is in the name, online backup. Without the internet, your data is as unreachable as water in the Sahara. You must ensure that your firm has an almost unbroken internet connection. (We would suggest a fixed line connection if possible.)
- Data recovery can be very time-consuming. If you need to do a total system recovery (for example if you have a virus), it can take a long time to download the last system snapshot. This is opposed to a physical solution in which you can swap out hard drives.
- Conversely, most online data backups will take place overnight and can’t work when someone is accessing the system. You could lose hour-to-hour work if the system suffers data loss.
Examples: Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft Azure
Which should I use?
We firmly believe that the best solution is both! Be sure to use an online backup for critical client documents, as well as transferring the project over to a USB or external hard drive that you keep locked up and secure. No one method of backing up is impervious to a critical data loss event, and you should prepare for that eventuality.