Updated December 18, 2022
Safeguarding data is essential for every small business
Protecting your computer data files is something every small business must know about and deal with before it’s too late. You must keep the backup process simple and automatic. Creating multiple copies, on-site and off-site, is also imperative. Here’s a run-down of how we do this for our small business.
What You Will Learn
1. You will learn how to create a simple, inexpensive way to back up your computer data.
2. You will learn how to make the entire process automatic.
3. You will learn why it is imperative to use multiple backup methods.
Protecting your computer’s data files is something every self-publisher must know about and deal with before it’s too late. It’s also imperative to create multiple copies, on-site and off-site. And it’s not a complicated or expensive process. It can be as simple as having an external hard drive and using cloud storage. No special knowledge or fancy equipment is needed. And the process is straightforward to automate.
Here is a run-down of how we manage
data storage for our small business:
A. Using an External Hard Drive for Data Backup
We started out using one external hard drive in our office. This method is the most basic and easiest way to protect your data located on your internal hard drive.
We currently use several brand-name 2TB external hard drives. Make sure you purchase a hard drive that can store 50% to 100% more data than is now on your computer’s internal hard drive. This will give you some room to grow. Plus, a hard drive that is too full tends to develop problems. Purchase only the correct size you need now, and then upgrade to a newer and larger unit when you need it.
We chose hard drives that are physically small. This strategy allows us to put the hard drive into our fire-proof safe or safety deposit box or take it with us on a working vacation.
B. Using Multiple External Hard Drives for Data Backup
We now use multiple external USB hard drives. This way, even if one drive fails, we still have several others working. All hard drives will eventually fail when you least expect it. Multiple hard drives help reduce our risk of this type of exposure.
Local Backup vs. Online Backup
1. Local Backup: on-site backup, such as your internal and external hard drives and flash drives in your home office.
2. Online Backup: off-site backup, such as storing your data with a cloud-based data storage company.
C. Using Cloud Storage For Data Backup
Storing your data online is called “cloud storage.” You should consider using cloud storage because it’s a safe and simple way to keep your files away from your office – where they can’t get stolen, lost, or mistakenly deleted by you or burned up in a fire
And you can access these files stored “in the cloud” whether you are in your home, office, or vacation. There are many cloud storage companies, and all are easy to find on the internet.
Many offer some primary storage for free. There are also many reviews and comparisons of the different services on the internet. Some companies will even automatically backup your data to an external hard drive and, at the same time, also to the cloud. Play it safe and pick one of the big-name cloud storage companies to deal with for your business
Back up vs. Backup
Two words as a verb, one word as an adjective or a noun.
1. Back up your computer files regularly to the cloud.
2. Schedule automatic backups of your computer’s hard drive.
D. Isn’t Backing Up to the Cloud Risky?
Your data will be stored in an encrypted format when backed up to the cloud at the storage company, which should prevent most hackers from accessing your data. If you require a greater level of security, you can use your private encryption key to reduce possible data intrusion exposure further. The likelihood of a server like Apple’s, Amazon’s, or Google’s going down is far less than the possibility that your hard drive or local backup will fail.
E. Working Away From Home or Office
If you’re away from your home or office computer and using your laptop, you can email yourself the document you want to save. Doing this will give you a copy waiting for you in your email box back at your office. Also, save it to your laptop’s internal hard drive, a flash drive, or even a small portable external hard drive.
An excellent general rule is never to keep sensitive data on your laptop. Keep it on your flash drive or small external hard drive, which is easy to carry or hide, and upload it to the cloud storage company. We keep several flash drives with us on vacation – and keep them in our pockets for safe-keeping. Flash drives are very inexpensive – so buy and use several.
F. Should I Encrypt My Computer or Hard Drives?
What is encryption? It’s a sophisticated method for protecting your data from thieves but not from malware. Encryption is recommended only for sensitive data, like your patients’ medical records. And for most small business purposes, encryption of your computer or hard drive is unnecessary.
If you encrypt your data, you will be adding unneeded complexity and risk to the very process you are trying to make more accessible and more practical. With the added complexity of encryption comes the increased probability of a problem – such as you or your co-workers not having access to your password. Therefore, the risk of losing access to your backed-up data increases.
Ensure you understand when and why you might need to encrypt your backups. Think about how you, your spouse, and your partners will gain access to your encryption password when things go wrong. Data encryption can cost you time, money, and aggravation. So, for most small businesses, avoid it.
G. What Computer Data Should I Backup?
Most software is easy to replace and generally not too expensive. But you must back up the data for your business in multiple places. At the very least, you need to back up everything except software applications.
H. What About Our Websites, Blogs, Email Lists, and Online Publications?
All of these are essential to keep our small business going and thriving. Therefore, we maintain multiple backup copies on various hard drives here in our office and on the cloud. Each of our hosting companies also backs up all of our data.
Our data hosting company also sends us backup copies by email. And our email lists are kept on our computer, backed up on external hard drives, and also at our online email hosting company. Our lists can be downloaded from the email list host company’s website. Our online publications also have complete copies with the companies that sell our publications.
A simple backup plan that utilizes an internal hard drive, multiple external hard drives, and online cloud backup will provide almost foolproof data security. Don’t risk losing your important files forever when you can quickly and inexpensively avoid that mess with a tripled-up data backup plan.
And NEVER put all your trust in one method over the other. Internal hard drives, external hard drives, and flash drives can fail. Even your cloud storage company can fail – go out of business, get hacked, or the software on your computer can fail. Mitigate your risks as much as possible by keeping your strategy simple, making it automatic, and storing data in multiple on-site and off-site locations.
Questions to Think About
1. What backup methods have you been using? Or plan to implement in the future?
2. Have you had any methods fail you? If so, what was the recovery process like for you?