The new year is often filled with the hope that this year will be better than the last. That’s why so many people make resolutions at the start of a fresh new turn around the sun. Most of these resolutions tend to be personal in nature, but if you’re running a small or medium-sized business, there’s at least one resolution you should be making for the health of your company: backing up your data.
First, let’s consider your business data. No matter what sector or industry you’re in, you probably generate a lot more data than you realize: sales transactions, customer information and feedback, inventory, taxes, proprietary information, marketing, advertising, employee information, the list goes on and on.
Now think about what it would mean to your business if that data was suddenly gone. It’s easy to understand how important it is to have a good data backup system in place for your business.
The good news is that this is a resolution that you can keep. It’s easier than hitting the gym every day or getting rid of a bad habit.
A simple rule for data backup is called the 3-2-1 Rule. It says that you should:
- Have THREE copies of your data. One is your primary backup, two are copies.
- Save copies of your backups on TWO different types of media or devices.
- ONE backup copy should be kept offsite just in case of disaster.
Keeping in mind the 3-2-1 Rule, choosing the right backup system will depend on the specific needs of your business. The most common for small to medium-sized businesses are some combination of NAS (network-attached storage), DAS (direct-attached storage) and public cloud.
Uploading data automatically or on a set schedule to a secure and trustworthy cloud-based file system is a great way to backup data copies. Depending on programs and applications utilized day-to-day for your business, however, it’s not always possible or efficient to work directly from online files. As such, you’ll probably want to include the cloud in your back-up plans, but also use DAS or NAS as well.
As the name suggests, DAS is connected directly to a computer and is not part of the network. This allows for extra storage for backing up data but lacks the network-wide applications and collaborative potential of NAS. Direct-attached storage can feature hard disk drives (HDDs) for large capacity or solid-state drives (SSDs) for high-performance.
DAS works well for very small organizations, when collaboration on files isn’t a priority, when data storage needs are relatively small or when lower cost or performance are the highest priority.
A NAS solution connects to a local area network, such as your Wi-Fi router via Ethernet, and can be used for sharing data among multiple different users who are also connected to the local area network. The device itself is generally comprised of multiple HDDs but may also have some SSDs to increase performance.
You can think of NAS as a mini on-site cloud. It can be configured to serve as a collaborative file server, web server, virtual machine, backup target and media center. This might sound complicated, but many NAS systems include software that makes it easy to set up and use, including scheduling backup sessions during non-peak hours to avoid interruptions to your business.
One thing to keep in mind when setting up your NAS system is how much data redundancy you want. In other words, how much extra security you want to have just in case something happens. NAS systems allow for you to either use each HDD separately to store your data just like you would with a drive on your computer, or you can protect each drive against failure using RAID which stands for “Redundant Array of Independent Disks.”
Depending on the configuration, RAID can mirror data from one drive to another (called RAID 1), or it can store data across many drives (with either RAID 5 or RAID 6). If one drive fails, the failed drive can be replaced with a new blank drive and the RAID controller can restore the missing data.
Again, this may sound difficult or very technical, but most NAS systems today utilize software with easy to follow and set up instructions.
The most challenging part is making the commitment to yourself and your business to backup your data. It’s important and worth keeping safe.
Victor Nemechek is senior marketing manager at Western Digital.