Pros and Cons of Data Backup Solutions

Author: C. Curley Date: September 02, 2011

Your options for backing up company data are expanding as new technology enters the mix, and there’s no one solution for every company. Some small businesses rely on an extra laptop to back up data, but most require something a bit more complex—and secure.

Consider the three primary ways to back up data:

1. External Hard Drive

Hard drives offer easy access to your data and cost under $100 a piece. You must regularly back up data manually, and for extra safety can transport hard drives offsite.

Pros: With no third party involved, “You control every aspect of the process,“ says Jeff Kear, owner of My Wedding Workbook, an Internet-based software company, in Denver, Colo.

Cons: Hard drives can fail, adds Kear, who suggests making multiple backups.

They also require more work. Marianne Carlsons says she used to back up data on external hard drives at her business, Emcie Media in DeLand, Fla. “But like many startup owners, I often found myself working at 2 a.m., so I'd cancel the backups,” says Carlsons, who now uses an online service.

2. Data Storage Company

Options with data storage companies range from an inexpensive file-and-folder backup service, to thousands of dollars for more complex services that allow employees more access to backed-up data.

Pros: Backups are automatic, so you don’t have to worry about doing it yourself. Because the data is kept offsite, it’s protected from a system meltdown or anything else that occurs in your office. Some services are very customized, allowing you to schedule automatic backup times for certain documents.?

Cons: The cost for more customized enterprise-level services may be too high for some small businesses.

3. Cloud Backup

Cloud storage provides online storage through a third-party service, requiring small service fees but no capital investment. You start by picking an option through a service provider and installing software on your employees’ machines, says Eric Nagel, owner of Buffalo, N.Y.-based

For example, services like Carbonite run in the background, and according to schedule, look for changed data, says Nagel. “They will automatically encrypt and upload the data over the Internet to an offsite location.”

Pros: Cloud solutions are less expensive than data storage companies and protect data in case of a disaster in your office. If you have a fast Internet connection, Kear says, updates occur quickly and frequently, and may back up data from computers in multiple locations.

Cons: The service may get interrupted when the Internet goes down or if the backup service is undergoing maintenance.

Related Resources: 8 Reasons to Outsource Your IT to the Cloud ; Keep Your Data Safe in The Cloud

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