As a small business owner, few things are as important as your data. But for many of us, our businesses likely launched on a standard home computer with little thought put into properly backing up that data. Most entrepreneurs and business owners I’ve met aren’t particularly tech savvy let alone qualified IT professionals. That said, I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard horror stories of lost accounting files, sales data and irreplaceable documents that all could have been avoided by properly backing up data.
Unfortunately, something like backing up your hard drive(s) is rarely a priority when you’re trying to manage operations, complete payroll, deal with clients and grow your business. Still, given the importance of data, there’s no excuse for not having some protocols in place to make sure your business isn’t sunk by an easily avoided mechanical failure. With that in mind, here are some simple steps to make sure you don’t wind up dealing with a data disaster.
1. Once you determine what data needs to be backed up, you’ll need to make a decision on how you want to back it up.
a. Explore the advantages and disadvantages of solutions like CDs/DVDs, thumb drives, external hard drives, online storage
2. Decide on a method of backup, as it may be wise to use software to do this.
a. Again, it’s important to explore the advantages and disadvantages if you choose to use software. While you can save money using freeware or trial software, if it’s not supported down the road, that could lead to problems.
b. At this stage you’ll also want to decide if you want to do a complete backup, incremental backup or a quick and dirty back up. A complete backup takes a full back up of all your data each time, while an incremental backup only creates a backup of new or changed data. A quick and dirty is just a quick grab of important documents and folders (this is what often happens if you don’t use a software solution to dictate your backups).
3. Find a safe place. Even if you perform the first two steps perfectly, these will not protect you from physical damage. If your office catches on fire and your computer and backup drives get burnt to a crisp, your efforts will be for naught. Putting your backup drive in a fire proof safe or storing it off-site can protect from these types of disasters as well as theft. This step is often overlooked, but is undoubtedly as important as your other data backup procedures.
If you’ve ever had to deal with data loss, or even if you haven’t, there’s an online project taking place at http://valueofdata.com that aims to quantify the value of data to individuals and businesses. The survey only takes five minutes and promises to provide some valuable data to businesses who have mission critical data.
About the author
Adam Henige is the Managing Partner at Netvantage Marketing, a search engine marketing firm located in East Lansing, Michigan.