As a start-up, every piece of data; whether it’s information about a new customer, a networking contact, your sales brochure or invoicing data, is hard won and valuable. As your business matures much of this can be re-purposed and re-used to save time, and cut costs – but only if you’ve kept it safe.
So, what happens if you have a critical failure and lose some, or all, of this data?
Yes, there are functions like Autorecover for Microsoft documents and Autosave within Photoshop – these will help if your computer crashes, but they won’t recover large numbers of documents in the event of, for example an office fire, break-in or backup failure.
Here’s why having a secure backup solution is needed and what your options are.
Why do you need a back-up solution for your start-up?
Over 4 million of the UK’s 5.5 million businesses risk losing critical data through poor backup provision – that’s according to recent research by Beaming.
Backupvault’s data suggests that 70% of small businesses, which experience a major data loss, go out of business within 12 months.
You’ve worked hard to start your business – don’t throw that away for lack of a back-up. But in case you’re still not convinced, here are a couple more reasons to get a back-up solution sorted:
You will be expected to have cloud backups for all cyber-security insurance and for many business policies, dependent upon the cover selected, of course.
Microsoft Office 365
You may not realise (and will probably be surprised to find out) but Microsoft Office 365 is not backed up in any way.
Over 120 million businesses around the world use it for their day to day computing needs – if you are one of them, then you need to protect the information you have and the data/documents you have created.
Whilst Autorecover will help you restore a document you were working on, it cannot restore something that was deleted, whether deliberately or accidentally, from your account.
What are your back-up options?
Depending on the size, industry and age of your start-up you may choose to go for a very simple or a more complex back-up solution. Whatever you choose – make sure it is right for you and that you can be sure your data is protected.
Let’s look at the options, from the basic to the really complex, including the pros and cons of each.
1. External hard drives
This is a really basic solution. It’s not recommended as a complete solution. It’s most commonly used by single person businesses generating very little data.
There are a few problems with this solution:
- Hard drives are physical devices and they can fail or break. If this happens you will have no way of recovering the data
- Everything is getting smaller, and although that makes storage easier it also makes losing a tiny heard drive much easier
- Where do you store your back-up hard drive? If they are kept in the same location as the device they are backing up – they can suffer in the same way. For example, if the device you’re backing up is stolen, lost, burnt or broken, so is the hard drive.
- External hard drives aren’t always connected to your devices, so you have to remember to manually backup each time
On the positive side, a hard drive does mean you can instantly restore your data and get working again, but the downsides do make it bad idea to reply on this option alone.
With solution providers such as VEEAM providing SME backup solutions for as little as £25 per month, it makes sense to use more than just a hard drive.
Losing all your data, could cost you your business – so choosing a robust option, that doesn’t require constant manual intervention, and allows you to get back to work within minutes not days, is important.
2. On-premise Solutions
As your start-up becomes a scale-up you may need to develop an on-premise server network. When this happens, it would seem obvious to have an on-premise back-up solution, usually based around network attached storage (NAS) devices.
Solutions such as Microsoft System Center will provide everything you need to build an on-premise solution.
But before you jump in, here are a few pros and cons to be aware of:
Recovery times can be quicker than using a cloud solution when a document is identified as missing or corrupted, but it depends on when the last back up was taken. Therefore, it is advisable that multiple retentions take place every day to maximise the chances of restoring the right information.
Some on-premise solutions provide you with the option, in the event of a major failure, to build a cloud-based server, with your data, but you have to budget accordingly if you want this level of failover capability.
Having your backup, either the actual data or the ability to restore, in the same location as the original versions is rarely a good option. What happens if:
- There is a fire in your office?
- There is an incident that means you are unable to get into your office to work?
- There is a burglary?
This risk can be mitigated by taking hard drives (or even tapes) off-site each day – however, these can still be lost or stolen. And, what about GDPR? Taking data off-site is highly likely to put you in breach.
3. Cloud-based backup
A cloud-based back-up is generally the best option as it delivers far more benefits than potential problems. The downside is likely to be the cost.
You’ll probably be paying on a per Gb basis for this solution, which may add up to more than an on-premise solution. However, the benefits, and convenience, will usually outweigh the costs. The main advantages are:
- You will never need to worry about upgrading/replacing storage hardware
- You can keep multiple copies of your data for prolonged periods of time
- You know that the data is being replicated to further protect your business
- You have the ability to restore that data to wherever you need it to be
- You can be sure the security around it is far higher than your budgets would normally allow
- You never have to remember to back up.
There is a lot of choice of supplier too as all the major players provide a cloud solution, from Microsoft Azure to Veeam. However, there is one thing you will need to do regularly; check your back-ups to ensure your business really is protected.
You don’t want to find yourself in the position where you need to restore your data, only to find that it isn’t there. Most cloud providers provide you with regular reports on the success, or otherwise, of your backup and some even give you reports on a more granular level, showing what machines are missing and how much data.
Your internet connection
To use a cloud-based solution you need a good Internet connection as you’ll use a fair amount of your available bandwidth each day. If you are still relying on ADSL connections, your backup is going to be slow. Even the incremental backups (taken after a main data upload) will take time.
So, if possible, invest in, at least, a fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) solution. The faster data speeds, both up and down, will mean your backups can occur when you need them. Plus, they won’t slow down other uses of that connection in the meantime.
Although over 90% of UK premises are now covered with FTTC, if yours isn’t, you may have to look at fewer data sets. One backup a day, scheduled overnight is an option, but it’s not ideal.
When considering what solution is the right one for your business, ask yourself two questions:
- Can my business operate without its data, and
- What is the value of this data to my business?
The answers to these will show you what level of investment is right for you.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Mike Ianiri, Sales Director at Redsquid, one of the UK’s leading independent providers of business Voice, Data, ICT, Cyber Security and IoT Solutions. Redsquid is not tied to a single supplier but rather helps clients boost productivity, reduce costs, and protect and grow their business by creating bespoke solutions from the best technology available in the marketplace.
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