Backup Solutions for Small Business

Backup Solutions for Small Business

Chris Farmer Backup, Managed IT Support Services

Data Backups: A guide for Small Businesses

backup solutions for small businesses

With Information Technology (IT) being the heart of every business, whether you like it or not, no matter how much you spend on clever storage hardware, failure of such hardware in inevitable. Even worse, your entire office or location that houses those pieces of hardware might be hit by a disaster. Backups are used to reduce the risk to a business of when, not if, that situation occurs.

This blog, looking at Backup Solutions for Small Businesses is to help those new to backup software and looking for a solution to protect their business’ data.

Summary

What is it?: In the most basic terms, backup software is used to create copies of all important data held on your devices, be that end users computers, servers on the network that are hosting shared drives, or business applications, like databases and email.

Why does it matter?
: Backups are not only effective protection against large scale issues, such as entire hardware failure, but also for those moments when a critical file that was working a couple of days ago, is now deleted or corrupted.

Who this affects
: Backups affect everyone, whether they realise it or not. In large businesses it is most likely administred and maintained by an IT person. For small to medium business, where they have no dedicated IT person, it will most likely fall to the most IT competent person. For small businesses, it would be worth looking at cloud solutions, where you pay for what you use. Some cloud backup solution providers also provide free advice and manage the backups for you.

How to start: Firstly, if you are a large enterprise, you will most likely already have a backup solution in place and associated hardware that come with it, like tape libraries and disk storage devices and storage pools. If you are a small business and looking to start, having at least a good idea of where your data is (File Shares or Applications) and how big, is essential to ensuring that you choose a system that meets your needs.

What is a Backup

A backup’s primary function is to copy data from the current location, to somewhere else. This ‘somewhere else’ should be separate from the primary location of that data. As in, the backup data backup’s primary function is to copy data from the current location, to somewhere else. This ‘somewhere else’ should be separate from the primary location of that data. As in, the backup data must not be stored on the same hard drive or storage platform as where the primary data is.

Backups provide multiple copies of your data, also providing protection for data corruption. For instance, a file you have been using for the last few weeks, suddenly will not open. With a backup you can restore the previous day’s backup or the last good version, potentially saving lots of time recreating that file from scratch.

Having multiple copies of your data, is also known as retention. Retention policies are basically based on a couple of simple questions, ‘How often do I want to backup?’ and ‘How long should I retain those backups for?’ Each business normally has a unique set of retention policies, or even multiple policies.

Backups are also different from Archiving, that is a very different topic but often gets confused. be stored on the same hard drive or storage platform as where the primary data is.

Backups provide multiple copies of your data, also providing protection for data corruption. For instance, a file you have been using for the last few weeks, suddenly will not open. With a backup you can restore the previous day’s backup or the last good version, potentially saving lots of time recreating that file from scratch.

Having multiple copies of your data, is also known as retention. Retention policies are basically based on a couple of simple questions:

  1. ‘How often do I want to backup?’

  2. ‘How long should I retain those backups for?’


Each business normally has a unique set of retention policies, or even multiple policies.

Backups are also different from Archiving, that is a very different topic but often gets confused.

Backup Technologies

Tape

Tape backups were very popular and still are in large enterprises that have certain compliance requirements. For the small to medium businesses, tape provides a cheap method (after purchasing backup software and relevant tape drive) of backing up data and securing it offsite.

Tape has a performance limitation in that you only have 1 drive. Although this can be improved when performing backups to a disk staging area first. But this normally requires too much investment for small business in both the hardware and software to support it.
Tape can also cause issues during the backup cycle, especially if the tape becomes full and the backup cannot complete until another new tape is added. The pause, whilst waiting for someone to add a new tape, can be classed as a risk, as your backup has not completed. This can lead to backups being missed for an entire week.

On the plus side, tape is portable, meaning that you can take it offsite. Again, large businesses might use 3rd party companies like Iron Mountain to keep their tapes safe, small business might take them home, if they remembered!

Recovery from tape can be slow, especially if backups span more than 1 tape, as the system might need to index the tapes first before recovering the data required.

Disk Based Storage

With the rise of cheap Network Attached Storage (NAS), this has allowed backups to become faster than using tape. This is because hard drives can perform multiple operation at a time, as apposed to tape being linear.

NAS combined with a tape drive can provide tiered backups. Once the backups are completed to the NAS, a secondary copy could be made to tape. This is much more efficient for the Tape drive, as the backups on the NAS can be streamed to the tape drive in the most efficient manner. Also with NAS now being used, it allows for technologies to improve on how the backups are stored, requiring much less space the previous solutions.

Cloud Storage and Backups

Cloud can replace tape in some instances, again depending on the business size and their internal policies. For small businesses, Cloud can replace the need for a tape drive to provide offsite backups.

With most cloud based backup solutions, the software that is installed on servers and end users’ computers is very advanced and provides enhanced backup options, just like the well known enterprise class solutions, Veritas NetBackup and Commvault Simpana.

Other providers in the marketplace for the smaller enterprise, like Veeam, also provide cloud based backups, but they normally require the purchase of licenses and annual support for their software and then a monthly cloud gateway fee.

Other Cloud backup solutions provide the software as part of the monthly backup costs. So when comparing Cloud backup solutions, you may find that some Cloud Providers cost a little more, but have no upfront costs and have short terms available.

Another option is to look at cloud backup solutions that also allows you to back up to your own local NAS, as well as the Cloud. This allows fast backups to occur onsite, but also caters for the offsite requirement. Some cloud offerings only replicate what you have backed up to the local NAS. Others, like our offering, allow different retention policies to be applied to the local and offsite backups. You could then have longer retention on backups on your local NAS and have reduced retention in the cloud, this would reduce your monthly costs.

Some Cloud providers (our good-selves included), as part of the monthly usage cost, not only provide the software, but also watch over your backups to ensure that they are working correctly and provide free advice on what retention policies you should have.

Don’t forget to look at the recovery options and costs. Cheaper cloud backup solution may be very pricey when recovering your data. Recovery capabilities should be reviewed, most will provide the ability to download those files, or restore to the original location. Other can provide entire machine restores. This feature can be very handy when recovering a laptop that has had the hard drive replaced.

What to do next

If you don’t perform regular backups, then you should be looking at starting. If you are, but using the inbuilt tools of Windows, then you are protecting yourself, but not as well as you could be.

Find a cloud provider that offers up front pricing, so you have an idea of what it might cost per month and a free trial. Any decent cloud backup provider will assist you in getting the backups up and running.

If you are a small to medium business with no dedicated IT resource, then doing a bit of googling for cloud backup might help. But your best option is most likely to phone and speak to someone about your needs. Let us help you find the disucss the backup solutions for small business and find the right one for you.

Read more how MirrorSphere can help You find a Backup Solution for Small Businesses to suit you.

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