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Reliable Offsite Data Backups are no longer just for the Big Boys!

by Ray Pizzo, Prime MSP on Wed, Jun 29 2011 6:24 PM

Backing up your computers or servers safely and securely to prevent data loss from such unfortunate events as a fire or flood is one of the most important things you do in business today. Whether your business computing environment is a single stand alone PC running Microsoft Office and an accounting package to an enterprise class network with many PC Workstations and multiple servers. There are many low cost offsite backup solutions available to both small and large businesses alike.


Times Have Changed

Historically you would need to configure some sort of a local backup solution possibly comprised of a CD-RW, Tape Drive or External Hard Drives that the disks, tapes or drive units would be rotated with offsite versions top ensure you are protected. Over the last couple years the average Internet bandwidth speeds have increased and become more stable. The technology of how data backups are performed, archived and restorations are made has greatly improved.


The choices are numerous and deciding the proper solution without going overboard is key to maintaining a remote data backup as a start to a disaster recover or business continuity plan. 


What to consider in an offsite backup system

  • Ample Storage Space:
    • Be sure the amount of offsite backup space you purchase will fulfill your needs. For example, if you have 100GB of data on your hard drive including the System State (The operating System Configuration) you will need to purchase enough offsite storage space not only to hold the amount of data you are protecting as well as all the version changes. This additional amount of space for version changes will vary depending on the file types protected and the frequency of changes. The version changes of a picture file can be as much as the entire file with every backup while the changes of an Excel worksheet or word processing document will be very small in size.

    • Good News/Bad News. The bad news is that you will need to purchase more space that you are actually backing up. The good news is that most online backup systems have a very high compression frequently getting as much a 2:1 ratio. What this means is that for you initial backup of 100GB of data on your PC it will most likely only consume approximately 45 – 60 GB offsite for your average mixed bag of file types.
  • Make sure you have access to the providers technical support by phone if needed:
    • Many organizations offer products and in order to minimize their operational expenses will not offer telephone support or charge a heavy premium for such service. Be sure that you are comfortable with the providers support response time since many of these can dictate a 24 – 48 hour response to your questions and sometimes only by E-mail. This can be a factor if you have to restore a file for an important presentation in a short time and help is needed.

    • Getting your backups initially setup and configured can be outside of your realm of expertise. Some companies include up to an hour of setup and configuration with the purchase of their software. Others allow you to purchase setup and configuration incident at a fixed price.

  • Self Service Software.
    • While some backup software is controlled supported by the manufacturer and requires in depth product knowledge to operate and restore your information. There are others where there is an intuitive user interface so you are not fumbling through a handbook just to get up and running. Most of the self service software is flexible enough to restore files to their original location or an alternate location so comparisons can be made.
  • Security
    • Make sure the backup solution you are considering encrypts your data from your PC or Server to the remote server to ensure transmission sniffing is minimized. Some solutions offer more than one data center and offer simultaneous duplicate backups of your data. If the software allows you to choose a pass phrase or password to encrypt your backups, this is a good thing. But, if you lose your passkey, you cannot access your data backup account. Some companies will offer to store this password. If you are in the medical profession an encrypted data transfer is required by HIPPA regulations.

  • Try before you buy
    • Some online backup services that allow you to try their service for free on a limited or trial basis. 

What This Means to Your Business

You now have the ability to get the same or a more comprehensive backup system as very large companies for a modest monthly cost of tens of dollars upward.

Raymond A. Pizzo Sr.
Total Backup Care
Provided by Prime MSP, LLC

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