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

Paul Mah

Some of these services, such as MozyPro and SpiderOak, are designed specifically to serve businesses for data backup.

Cloud storage can work very well if backing up data incrementally, and requires no up-front capital investments. The downside, though, is that data retrieval may take an unacceptably long time should you require full data recovery.

5. Private Cloud: Not comfortable with placing their data in the hands of third-party public cloud vendors, some enterprises have taken to building privates version of cloud services to gain some of the inherent benefits of electricity and flexibility. Though this was once out of the reach of small business, innovations mean that small businesses may yet be able to tap into private cloud storage.

The Transporter, for example, is a network appliance that connects to a storage drive to share and synchronize its content. This can be done with client desktops or laptops, and with other Transporter devices. Meanwhile, BitTorrent Sync, currently in beta, lets computers with the correct secret key synchronize directly with one another over the Internet.

6. Offline media: This is commonly understood to be tape drives, but optical media such as DVD and Blu-Ray discs are occasionally used for the purpose of offline data backup. This "technology" may seem outdated, but don't dismiss it yet: Tape backups have saved Google in at least one Gmail outage, and Facebook is experimenting with Blu-Ray discs for data backup (albeit with a robotic picker handling 10,000 discs in a storage system the size of an entire server rack).

2 + 1 = Data Backup Best Practice
>For critical data, businesses should make two full copies, maintained on separate physical devices. In addition, a third copy should be kept offline, preferably stashed at another location.

Having two complete copies offers some measure of business continuity, allowing organizations to continue with their business as usual even with the complete loss of one set of data. After all, even RAID volumes may be degraded for a substantial amount of time until the array is completely rebuilt. These two copies of data can be kept synchronized by a variety of means: The cloud, a third-party sync application or the sync capabilities of an increasing number of NAS.

The offline copy, meanwhile, serves as an important hedge against inadvertent mistakes and outright malice. Real-time or near-real-time data synchronization can eliminate data sprawl, which may see multiple copies of the same data. However, it can also rapidly replicate errors or overwrite good files in a way that stymies file recovery software. As noted, even Google and its multiple data centers' worth of data storage still uses tape storage technology.

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