How to build a storage and backup strategy for your small business

Paul Mah

Today's businesses generate more data than ever before. Not coincidentally, IT has never been more critical to the success of a small business. Luckily, the per-gigabyte cost of hard disk drives and associated storage technologies has never been lower, while the advent of technology such as cloud storage offers even greater opportunities to do more with less.

For many small businesses, though, their backup and storage strategy hasn't caught up with their more pervasive use of computers. This could be due to confusion about the various storage options, or a failure to understand that the old paradigm of the occasional batch backup is no longer adequate.

A storage vendor representative will have you believe that it offers the perfect backup hardware for your business. However, backup is more than hardware, since storage needs for individual organizations invariably differ. This means a one-size-fits-all mentality is doomed to offer a mediocre fit in terms of either budget or functionality.

Rather than outline a fixed strategy, this article highlights the most common storage capabilities and shows how they can be combined to craft the right storage strategy for your small business.

6 Common Data Storage Solutions
Rather than go into every single storage technology that's available today, it's better to evaluate the various categories of storage options.

1. Direct attached storage: DAS denotes storage devices that are connected directly to a PC or server, typically using a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 peripheral port. One weakness of DAS is that you need to do ad-hoc or batch backups to copy data, which means they could contain out-of-date versions of files.

2. Network attached storage: A NAS appliance is a storage device that connects directly to the network. It features the attendant capabilities of a file server and accepts multiple storage drives. Redundancy is offered in the form of RAID capabilities, as NAS supports various file protocols to work directly desktops and laptops. Some NAS models offer the capability to synchronize selected folders or volumes with a second, remote NAS that supports the capability.

3. Disaster protected storage: As its name suggests, disaster protected storage - which can come in the form of DAS or NAS - is hardened against the type of disasters that would have easily destroyed unprotected data. For example, ioSafe says its disaster protected storage appliances can withstand fire for up to 30 minutes and total immersion in water for days.

4. Online storage: While it may seem intuitive to lump all online storage into the same category, there are actually two distinct types of offerings. Some, such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), serve as the cloud version of storage devices for the Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute platform. Then there's the online storage designed to help consumers and businesses store or back up data in the cloud. For the purposes of this article, that's what we mean by online storage.

1  2  3  Next Page