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Choose your backup strategy carefully

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Performing backups is no longer an exercise reserved for big businesses. It is something that companies of all sizes need to do, and need to do on a regular basis. FRED MITCHELL, Symantec Division manager at Drive Control Corporation outlines five backup tips to consider when choosing a backup strategy.

If you thought a back up strategy was only relevant to large companies, you are wrong as the reality these days is that everyone needs a backup strategy: the need to backup data is crucial when you consider the myriad ways you can lose it all.

From theft, fire, and flooding to online cybercrime attacks that can corrupt data and destroy machines, or a simple accident or broken device, consumers and small businesses face the same risks as larger companies. Whether the content is business or personal most feel they do not need a backup strategy as the information is not all that likely to be destroyed or go missing. This usually results in a backup strategy being regarded as a ‘grudge purchase’.

Losing the contents of a hard drive can be catastrophic for any business, particularly the smaller business and consultants whose livelihood often depends on the data contained on their computers and other devices. No-one expects the worst possible scenario, but imagine you had almost completed writing a novel, a thesis or an important business presentation and your hard drive crashed – it would be impossible to recover any of your data.

Whether it is for family photographs or work related, purchasing a backup system is hardly a grudge purchase when you consider how low the price is of backup drives. Speak to anyone who has lost information they cannot recover and they will tell you that the data they lost was priceless.

These five simple tips are recommended in order to avoid the inconvenience (and sometimes downfall) that consumers and small businesses experience with data loss/loss of content.

Top tips:

1. There are various options but success is not in the product you use to back up but rather how you use it. It needs to fit the consumer or small business and its objectives. As soon as it takes time and effort or slows down productivity, people are unlikely to continue to back up their data. It is important to note that external hard drives like flash drives and CD’s are highly unreliable as a means of backing up data as their lifespan is short. This is due to that fact that flash drives are highly sensitive to static and a static spark will erase information and scratches on CD’s can damage data or render it inaccessible. Similarly, fragmented information is not a “back up”” for example: just because you are saving your pictures on a PC and movies on your notebook, the risk is not mitigated.

2. The manual backup of documentation to another device that is then stored in the same location as the machine is not recommended, either because in the case of fire or other natural disaster the backup data will also be lost, rendering the exercise pointless. Manual backups also mean that you need to remind yourself to do a backup, which may lead to non-compliance, with the attitude that “”I will do it tomorrow”” with ‚tomorrow‚ never arriving. The best form of back up is one that is automatic.

3. Although offsite storage is a good option for protecting data, this means all data that is backed up is stored in a separate location. This minimises the risk of both copies of the data being lost or destroyed.

However, this may require data to be backed up to other physical storage devices and then moved to another location, which can be time consuming and expensive, especially for smaller businesses. Another option is for a service provider to back up your information on their server at their premises. In this way you can back up data on their server on a drive allocated by them.

4. Technology has enabled another, more convenient form of offsite storage, and that is cloud storage, which can easily and conveniently store backup data offsite without the need to physically move storage devices to another location. Online backup facilities also enable you to recover data from wherever you are, even if you are in another city or country to where you normally run your business. This means that if data is backed up online, not only is it useful for recovery, it can also be used to access information that may not necessarily be stored on a physical device on site at the office when the user is out of the office. Cloud-based online storage is also far cheaper than onsite physical storage as the actual storage devices do not need to be purchased, and data is secure and always available should it be needed.

5. When it comes to choosing a security solution, the smart choice, especially for the smaller business or home user, is to choose one that bundles Internet security and anti-virus with an online backup solution that will automatically backup your files on a schedule and on an incremental basis. This means that only data that has changed will be backed up. This ensures that businesses and users have a complete, holistic security solution that will protect their critical data from all sides, so that in the unfortunate event that something does happen to a physical device, the data is always available

Ultimately backups save you time, money and give you peace of mind as long as you ensure your equipment/backup facility is backed by an effective system, which is reliable and user friendly.

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