DATA BACKUP – SAVING YOUR BUSINESS' BACON
Ask most people if the name Joseph Licklider rings a bell and you'll probably receive nothing but blank looks in return. Yet we all owe Lick, as he was affectionately known in the world of computer science, a huge debt of gratitude for coming up with the original concept of cloud computing. Today, thanks to Lick's pioneering work, cloud storage has largely alleviated the ever-present problem of how to source more digital space in which to keep our important personal and business information. But simply parking your data in cyberspace is only half the answer; backing up your files is equally essential if you're serious about keeping vital records safe.
A quick search on the internet will bring up any number of horror stories detailing a permanent loss of files uploaded to various cloud storage providers such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Mega, pCloud and more. Was there a software glitch? Was it a case of user error? At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter – the files are gone. Experts say that the most common cause of permanently lost data comes from user ignorance: the assumption that uploading to the cloud is in itself security enough. The simple fact is, it isn't.
Of course, keep in mind that data you store in the cloud is no different to data that is stored in your office, be it on a server or your local desktop. It is important that you have a robust strategy for backing up all types of data wherever it is stored.
What does online backup really mean?
In basic terms, online backup means you're saving a copy of all your files to someone else's hard drive. All around the world, data centres owned by online backup providers charge you to store a copy of your encrypted files by transferring them over the internet. Once installed, most programs will automatically backup your files, recognising which ones have been created or edited since your last backup. In other words, it's a set-and-forget process which allows you to get on with your business, knowing you're prepared against possible disasters.
However, there's also a school of thought that says paying for backup is an expense you can do without, arguing that juggling free space from multiple cloud storage services can act as a really good backup plan. After all, it's spreading the risk between providers, so it should work, right? Possibly. But detractors of this kind of "solution" point out that users can very quickly find themselves in an ever more complex and time-consuming configuration of storage. And, unless you can be 100% sure that corrupt files or accidental deletions don't appear across all services, it's a textbook example of false economy.
So, if uploading your data to the cloud isn't in itself a guarantee of security and if attempting to economise on backup is akin to willfully ignoring the looming iceberg as you sail by on the Titanic, what can business owners do to safeguard their information?
There is an increasing number of online backup services which automatically transfer critical business data to your chosen cloud storage provider, including www.getboxkite.com, www.safeguardmy.com and www.ledgerbackup.com to name just a few.
Useful questions to ask before making your choice should cover:
How fast is data recovery? If there's an emergency, how long can you expect to wait? Hours, days or weeks? Your business depends on its data, so this question is critical.
How safe is my data? Many backup services have what's known as redundant data sites in case their own data centre experiences problems, but not all do.
What is their policy on data retention? For example, if there's a billing dispute and you haven't paid within the required time frame, will the provider automatically delete all your data?
What level of security is on offer? Most providers offer different packages involving varying levels of security and encryption, so make sure you're satisfied with what your fee entitles you to.
How easy is it to restore your data? Does your provider offer you local help in this regard? How confident do you feel when it comes to file restoration?
It's also a good idea to check out online reviews of such services as these can also give you some good insights into how easy an online backup provider is to deal with when it comes to the crunch.
Still not convinced you need it?
It's worthwhile remembering that security of data when utilising software or other services is not always guaranteed. For example, Xero accounting software, specifically designed for small businesses and a popular choice for many clients, currently offers no such promises. It's Terms and Conditions make it quite clear that the onus is on the user to take appropriate steps to ensure a robust backup process exists and it accepts no liability if things go pear-shaped.
5.3 Backup of Data:
You must maintain copies of all Data inputted into the Service. Xero adheres to its best practice policies and procedures to prevent data loss, including a daily system data back-up regime, but does not make any guarantees that there will be no loss of Data. Xero expressly excludes liability for any loss of Data no matter how caused.
7.1 Limitation of Liability
To the maximum extent permitted by law, Xero excludes all liability and responsibility to You (or any other person) in contract, tort (including negligence), or otherwise, for any loss (including loss of information, Data, profits and savings) or damage resulting, directly or indirectly, from any use of, or reliance on, the Service or Website.
It's a fact of life in this technological age that archiving data critical to your business is essential in preventing a data disaster that could well mean the loss of all you've worked so hard to achieve; signing up with an online backup service could well be one of the best business decisions you ever make.
To ensure your backup requirements are met, we strongly suggest you contact your IT specialist and speak to one of their consultants.