Categorized | Featured Articles, Technology

The truth about backing up

How your business may still be in the dark ages

By Pete Lamson

The digital age is in full force and ledger sheets, receipt books and cash registers are a distant memory. Today, small businesses have shifted to accounting software, customer relationship management applications and point-of-sale devices to accelerate operations, improve accuracy, and ultimately to ensure their business runs as smoothly as possible—generating tons of valuable data about their businesses.

Unfortunately, this shift means all this important data is vulnerable to viruses, malicious hackers, physical damage or simply leaving your laptop behind at the coffee house.

The risk of losing your company’s most valuable asset—your business data— is real. And running your business is competitive enough without the hassle of lost files. Losing your data means potentially losing your business. Yet surprisingly, 86% of small businesses are relying on antiquated backup methods (Carbonite Inc., December 2010 SMB Data Backup Study).

Data is vulnerable

A 2011 study conducted by Carbonite Inc. uncovered that 48% of small businesses have lost digital documents or other records—up from 42% since 2010.

These businesses noted that the major ways they lost information were hardware or software failure (54%), accidental file deletion (54%), computer virus damage (33%), and theft of computers or stored data (10%).

Data catastrophe also can occur from fire, hurricane, flood, tornado or earthquake. While buildings are replaceable, lost information about your finances, your inventory, your customers, and even your email often is not.

Protecting business data

Your business’s data is its lifeline and this vital information must be backed up. Though many of you are backing up in some manner today, the reality is that copying your files onto physical devices like external hard drives or USBs is not a complete solution and does not ensure you can retrieve your files if and when needed.

When using devices like external hard drives, CDs, DVDs or USB/flash memory sticks, the backup is actually only the first step. All these drives or disks must also be removed from the business premises every night and returned every morning.

If not, anything that should happen onsite—from fire to theft—could wipe out both your original files and the backup. Even if these steps keep your backups current and separate from the originals, those hard drives and memory sticks are still vulnerable to theft, tampering or loss.

Backup with the cloud

Fortunately, technology has developed a solution, and it resides in the “cloud.” For a small fee, commercial services enable you to store copies of your files online—on tightly secured servers operated by companies dedicated to backing up business files. These services offer more than just storage; they make backing up convenient and time-efficient.

Easy-to-use, cloud-based methods aren’t vulnerable to the problems associated with those antiquated backup methods. Once you realize you need to better protect your data and ultimately your business, you need to choose the right online backup solution.

Choosing the cloud solution for your business

Here are six key capabilities to look for when trusting your files to online services for backup and restoration in case your computers crash, burn or just die:

1. Affordability. The best services may cost only $229 a year to back up an unlimited number of computers in your company. This is a predictable, sustainable cost you can plan for. It’s really the lowest insurance premium you’ll keep on your books, and it protects the most valuable asset in your business—your data.

2. Automatic backup. The files on your business computers should be copied and stored on a cloud-based server without you needing to do anything but register with the service. As you create new files or edit existing documents, the files should back up automatically.

3. Easy restoration. With online backup, you no longer need to worry about transporting your backup files daily. The cloud-based servers are far removed from your location, so if something unfortunate did happen onsite, you could retrieve the data you created on your computers. The service you choose should enable you to simply boot up a new computer, connect to the Internet, visit where your files are stored, and download your files. The best cloud-based backup services will even place your restored files in the same folders in the same locations as they were on your original computer.

4. Anywhere, anytime access. You don’t need to suffer a disaster to be saved by online backup. The best backup services allow you to retrieve whatever files you need by accessing it from your laptop computer or smartphone. Now, when you are with a customer offsite and realize you urgently need a particular file to document an action you have taken or an invoice you sent, you can have it on hand.

5. No extra equipment. You should only need to register and download a small piece of software that lets you retrieve or restore your files. Everything else should happen automatically.

6. Security. Most cloud-based backup companies encrypt every byte of data throughout the complete process—uploading, storing and downloading a file from the cloud. It’s the same secure technology that banks use for their online operations.

Once you have an online backup service in place, you will have safe, certain, anytime-anywhere access to your files. If your business expands, you can extend your backup service to more computers or locations.

Knowing that your company’s data is backed up properly can provide you with the peace of mind you need to focus on running your business. You have a responsibility to your business, your employees, your customers and yourself to consider the impact of data loss and to take action to implement a backup procedure that fits your company’s needs. You can get started in minutes and be protected from whatever lies ahead.

Pete Lamson is senior vice president and general manager of the small business group at Carbonite, a leading provider of online backup solutions for consumers and small- to medium-sized businesses. More than 1.1 million subscribers in over 100 countries rely on Carbonite to provide easy-to-use, affordable, unlimited and secure online backup solutions with anytime, anywhere data access. For information on Carbonite, visit

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