Posted at September 24, 2020 at 3:09 pm by Manoj Kumar
Data drives progress. Until a new breakthrough in the way we store, analyze, and spread information changes, it’s hard to reach peak business performance without a strong data backbone.
Can your team process information without much of a challenge–at least compared to the competition? Do you have ways to store information about clients, customers, products, services, employees, and investors? Can you make sense of that data with databases, analysis, and reports?
Answering those questions is a work in progress for everyone. Even if you can say yes by today’s standards, there is always a next step.
But there’s also a step back. If your data is corrupted, too slow to access, locked down by hackers, or overwritten by accident, what can you do about it? If you’re lucky, there is an undo button or a tech out there who can repair the issue.
For many businesses, vital data can be lost in an instant and the march to progress starts over from weeks, months, or even years ago. A versatile backup plan can make the fall from grace less painful, but what does versatile mean?
Here are a few details to help you understand how backups work, how you can save vital information, and which IT partners can help you make the right choice.
External USB Drives, Jump Drives, and Other Portable Options
For small businesses, independent contractors, and personal use, the world of portable storage is full of options. While most of the options fit into a few categories, there are some marketing gimmicks that can change the cost.
When it comes to saving information, you’re concerned with a few simple details:
• Read/Write speed
• Power requirements
• Durability and reputation
Your drive needs to hold enough information to be useful to you, saving and accessing information needs to be fast enough, you need to be aware of whether a power cable is needed, and the drive shouldn’t have a reputation for failing.
The first three shopping points are fairly easy to look up. If you’re not tech savvy, here are a few details about those bullet points:
• Capacity – Current drives are measured in terabytes, which are 1000 gigabytes. If you only need to save text documents and pictures, a basic 1TB drive is around $50 USD in most areas.
People who need more include digital artists, musicians, video editors, or anyone who downloads high-resolution videos or games.
• Read/Write speed – You need to be able to copy information from your drive to another device in a decent amount of time. As of 2019, USB drives should have the USB 3.0 standard, which transfers data at 5Gbps (Gigabits per second). USB 3.2 is the current fastest consumer-available speed, clocking in at 20Gbps.
While faster is better, getting at least 3.0 isn't a terrible loss and 3.1 drives are the norm until 3.2 devices hit the market in greater numbers throughout 2019.
• Power requirements – Do you want to carry around a power supply for your USB drive? A cord and cable defeats the purpose for many people, but some external drives with extra features built into the case may require external power.
If you don’t want to deal with power cables, inspect the drive first.
• Durability and reputation – There are always good and bad products on the market. Be sure to look up product reviews, complaints, and competitors for any drive you consider.
Internal Drive Storage for Work Centers and Data Centers
Does your business need to store hundreds of terabytes, or even petabytes of data? If you can’t deal with dozens of terabyte drives sitting around the business or if you already have a wall of data devices, you need a wall of backups.
You could technically buy the same drives as your production (current, working) drives, but that isn’t always cost-effective. Some businesses use older drives that may be slower, but provide bigger storage for lower cost points.
This is a valid option because backups shouldn’t be restored on a daily basis. You should be verifying data on a regular basis–either monthly, quarterly, or at least bi-annually–but you shouldn’t need to load up your big data stores so often that your business needs to wait on slow drives multiple times per month.
How old and slow is good enough for your business? You may need to test out those expectations with your clients, employees/team members, and an IT consultant who knows how different drives perform.
If you don’t mind investing in faster drives, you may still want to speak with an IT consultant. Not all new, bigger, and faster products are better, and a skilled technician will be able to test whether the same drive, a newer drive, or a specifically better drive can be matched to your backup or data center needs.
Managed IT Services with Backup Support
Why buy drives, server racks, or storage systems when you can upload everything to the internet?
Cloud-based backups and production storage can make your business more agile without filling your office with bulks, heat-generating equipment. Online storage lockers aren’t just for personal files or website data; there are business-class storage systems ready to expand your tech horizons.
Many businesses already run software, services, and other tech systems from the cloud. If you’re not ready to make the jump, you can simply store your data backups in a cloud storage system and prepare for the future.
Managed IT services teams can store and secure your data in multiple ways. If your internet connection can handle it, the information can be simply uploaded to a secure site. If your connection is too slow, you can either schedule an on-site transfer, mail your devices to the storage center, or hand-carry your data if you live nearby.
What if you don't have much data yet? Why not start your business on the cloud? If you barely have enough data to fill up a hard drive or solid state drive (SSD), switching your company’s storage to the cloud or setting up an automated backup can get your team in the habit of working in the future of cloud computing.
What if the internet disconnects? You don’t have to work entirely on the cloud; being able to work on your local, physical devices while scheduling an online backup at certain hours can keep your information safe while giving you the ability to work when the internet fails.
This is a great option for businesses in unstable areas, natural disaster areas, or simply poor internet service areas. Hurricane/tsunami areas can plan their year around floods, and having a data storage far away from their regularly-scheduled crisis can mean huge savings in time and money.
Which Option Is Best for You?
Although cloud services are the newest and most convenient method for people and businesses with decent internet connections, local hardware is far from obsolete. Network failure is still a reality, and having a local contingency plan is vital. Many businesses keep a mixture of cloud storage, local network attached storage (NAS), and selective thumb drives for key files that are near and dear to the team.
Some businesses even keep magnetic tape storage due to its high capacity. There are multiple legacy choices to consider, so contact a backup and cloud computing professional first. For areas with data-damaging weather and volatile environments, IT consultants with emergency planning experience can discuss both the digital and
physical scenarios that could change the way you backup your data.