Today, small businesses have as many (or nearly as many) options for data storage as much larger businesses. But with so many data storage options, how do you choose the right one for your business? Here’s how can you ensure your critical data will be available in the event of a disaster.
1. Find a solution that can scale up (or down) with your company.
“You won’t accurately know [what] your storage requirements [will be] in three-to-five-years – you’ll be lucky to know it one-year out,” says Kevin Liebl, vice president, marketing, Zadara Storage. “But instead of [focusing on] right-sizing storage today, focus on selecting a solution with the ability to scale to at least several orders of magnitude greater than you envision, and the elasticity to scale up or down.”
2. Use a hybrid solution. “A combination of local and cloud backup is the best way to guarantee the safety of your data,” says Ed Meadows, senior engineer, Best Integration Technologies. “Local backups provide you with quick recovery times when needed, and cloud backups protect you from more widespread disasters that could potentially destroy your local backups.”
3. But if you can’t go hybrid, back up data to the cloud. “If you are budget conscious and are only able to choose a single backup method, go with a cloud backup,” says Meadows. “Recovery times are not as fast as local for large amounts of data, but you are protected against more types of threats that can destroy your data,” he says. “The cost to get started with cloud backups is also significantly lower as there is normally no upfront cost, and you get simple monthly billing, spreading your backup cost over time.”
“Look for cloud based solutions that are redundant,” adds Mike Davie, CEO, DataStreamX. “Although they may be slightly more costly over a two-year horizon, nothing kills an SMB faster than losing your data due to the failure (or hack) of a single, on-premise solution. We use AWS S3 for our data with back-up in multiple regions to ensure the safety of our mission-critical data assets.”
4. Vet storage vendors/providers carefully. Get recommendations from fellow business owners and customers. Also ask about data security.
“When you set up a contract with a third party, specify the level of security required and the time frame they have to deliver your backups,” says Brian Kearney, chief underwriting officer, Travelers Select Accounts.
Also find out about pricing and tech support before you commit. The goal is to find a safe data storage solution/provider that will be there for you – and can quickly restore your data – when disaster strikes, but which won’t break the bank.
5. Back up data regularly. “Electronic data should be backed up [at least] once a week, with all backups stored at a remote location that cannot be impacted by the same event,” says Kearney.
6. Archive old files. “To save on costs, archive files older than 3 years to start – and use a hybrid cloud model to keep data storage costs low,” says Mazhar Lateef, CEO, ShareArchiver. “Archiving old or unused data can save your company hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year on data storage. By migrating these high data volumes off of your servers, to a less expensive storage appliance (server) – or if using cloud services, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a great option that is not too expensive – costs are lowered and performance and backups are much faster.”
7. Make sure you can easily retrieve/recover data. “[A] vital aspect of backups is the recovery,” says Frank Jablonski, vice president, Acronis. So be sure to ask storage providers how – and how quickly – you can recover data in the event of a disaster. Then test out how long it will take “to bring data and applications back online. The length of recovery time of an application might well surprise you. It’s better to find that out during testing than for real.”
Similarly, “think carefully about how data will be used when choosing a storage solution, so that you don’t end up with data that’s stored but inaccessible to the different people and applications that need to use it,” says Jon Bock, vice president, product and marketing, Snowflake Computing. “For example, if it’s data that will feed reports and analytics, modern SaaS data warehouses and data platforms can both store and process data,” making the cloud a good choice for you.
8. Have a disaster plan – and update it regularly. “When it comes to data, one of the biggest pieces of advice I always give is to have a plan for all types of data disasters, and regularly update your plan,” says David King, director of solutions marketing, Commvault. “Though companies know the damage that can occur, they often don’t consider the different types of data disasters that could impact their business – human error, hardware and software issues, ransomware, natural disasters, etc.
“In order for businesses to be fully ready to recover when disaster strikes, there must be a plan in place for all realistic potential disasters,” he states. “Additionally, with data, applications, technology and business needs constantly changing, disaster plans should be reviewed and updated every quarter.”