Your business has data vital to its operation. Think about it for a moment: if all of a sudden you lost, or were unable to access, your most vital data, how would it affect your business? Would it grind day-to-day operations to a halt, or would it be a minor inconvenience? The answer to that question will help identify your data storage and backup needs. Either way, it costs you time and can seriously affect your bottom line.
Resiliency and Redundancy
Resiliency and redundancy are two measurements that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a variety of technological systems. In the case of data storage, resiliency describes the ability to avoid data loss through reliable hardware, software, and security measures. Redundancy describes data duplication in the case where hardware, software, or security has failed. Both are important to take into account when selecting storage solutions.
Ease of use
More important than either of these measurements, arguably, is “ease of use”. You have to be able to use your “resilient” and “redundant” data. If every time you want to access or backup a file, you have to enter a code to a vault and plug in an external hard drive, you will probably avoid that procedure any chance you get. The best storage and backup solution you can have is one you do not have to think about to use.
There are many cost effective network storage devices available for the small-to-medium scale business that provide data resiliency, which we may cover specifically in another post. On these devices, data is often split across several hard drives in such a way that loss of any single hard drive means no data loss. Network storage devices provide ease of use for in-office data storage. However, anyone who works out of the office will quickly realize their data is not as easily accessible as they may like.
There are numerous services available to store your data “in the cloud” (as with the network storage devices, I will leave evaluation of these services to another post). Access to your files through these services has been made relatively easy these days, to the point the files almost feel like they are on your local machine. Cloud storage solutions are excellent, until you do not have access to the Internet. Just like Network Storage, if you do not have access to the network where the data is stored (in this case, the Internet) then you do not have access to the data. Security is also certainly a concern on an external service, but stick with a company with a strong security track record and use a strong password for yourself and you will be pretty well set.
Combined Storage and Backup Solution
A great way to ensure the resiliency, redundancy, and ease of use of your data is to combine a network and cloud storage solution. Data stored on an office network device can be automatically backed up to a cloud storage service for remote access as well as disaster recovery situations. Remote users can also use the cloud storage to back up their devices.
Whatever data storage solution you choose, do not forget about security: strong passwords, physical access restrictions (lock your network closet please), and encryption. With data duplication comes an increased amount of potential access points to that data. If you are storing any kind of personal or proprietary information, encrypt it. TrueCrypt is an excellent (and free!) tool for file or whole drive encryption. Data encryption adds a little more complexity to the mix, but can be as easy to work with as entering one more password in the beginning of each day.
Get started by thinking again about the importance of data to your business. What is your storage solution today? How can it be improved? Talk to a Little Reed expert for advice.