Effective storage and backup for professionals

Data is a critical business asset in today’s digital world, and backups have therefore become essential in ensuring business continuity.

April 7, 2014

By Anamika Budree, Brand Sales Manager, WD South Africa

Data is a critical business asset in today’s digital world, and backups have therefore become essential in ensuring business continuity. As a result, many organisations have embarked on backup strategies aligned with business needs and requirements. This often involves fairly sophisticated technology for automation and IT resources (either in-house or outsourced) to manage processes and assist with the retrieval of data when lost, corrupt or destroyed. However, for professionals such as consulting engineers, researchers and any individual that offers a professional service independently, this approach is not viable or cost effective. The result is that these service providers often do not backup their data or have an ineffective backup strategy in place, leading to dire consequences in the event of data loss. Data storage and backups are as critical to professionals as they are to large businesses, and having an effective backup strategy, underpinned by sound technology, is essential.

The consequences of data loss can be detrimental to any business, as evidenced by various studies conducted by the Contingency Planning Strategic Research Corp, The Diffusion Group and The Hartford Guide to Emergency Preparedness Planning. These surveys reveal several telling characteristics. Up to 70% of small firms that experience a major data loss go out of business within a year and the average time and cost of re-entering 20 Megabytes (MB) of sales data is 19 days and $17 000 respectively. These studies also show that, of those businesses that experience data-loss and have no emergency plan, 43% never re-open. Of those that do re-open only 29% are still operating two years later. Having safe and secure backup is therefore critical and should be a top priority for businesses and professionals.

Aside from the potentially catastrophic effects that data loss can have on a business, backups are also important for the daily operations of professionals. For example, when working on shared documents, not backing up continuously can waste a lot of time and cause loss of productivity should the computer crash, or even if it is lost or stolen. Professionals need to implement their own personal backup plan to avoid these time-wasting and possibly expensive situations.

Storage and backup are undoubtedly at the heart of any thriving business today, but still present a challenge, both for businesses and for professional service providers. The over-complexity of a multitude of backup solutions is one challenge that has to be overcome, by selecting the right solution. Solutions must ensure that the backup and storage process is as fast and streamlined as possible and that data can easily be restored after a crash or data loss event. Automation is another essential component, as reliance on manual backup processes creates the opportunity for human error, which can potentially compromise data storage and backup. Using automatic back-up software will almost guarantee storage and backup efficiency and once again streamline the entire process.

Compounding this is the need to offer secure remote file sharing access to employees, as organisations need to ensure that important and sometimes sensitive data does not fall into the wrong hands. Essentially, data storage and backup must work effectively and automatically in the background, ensuring the security and integrity of data at all times so that businesses and professional service providers alike can focus on their core business activities and always have their data available.

While businesses, as previously mentioned, are able to rely on IT departments to ensure backup strategies are effective ad reliable, professionals need to take charge of their own personal backup solutions and approaches. One of the easiest ways to ensure that data remains secure is to make use of a portable external hard drive. These are available in a small form factor that fits neatly into a pocket or laptop bag. They can be attached using a USB cable to any laptop for ease of use, and provide up to 2TB of capacity, enough to store hundreds of thousands of files. With an external hard drive, professionals can store, save, share and transport their important files in their pocket. Certain external drives also provide automatic backup software to ensure that backups are continuous and backed-up data remains up to date.

However, simply making use of an external drive is no longer enough. It is pointless doing a backup on a storage device that sits next to a PC or notebook, or resides in the same bag as a laptop. In these instances, if a fire breaks out, a theft occurs or a flood ensues, both the computer and the data backup will be destroyed or lost. In addition to external storage devices that automate backup, personal cloud solutions are often vital. This will ensure that data is not only backed up to a physical device, but also to a cloud storage platform. It allows professionals to keep media and files safe at home on their own physical drive and then access them over the Internet with any computer or on tablets and smartphones through mobile apps. For additional redundancy, many of these solutions now integrate with other cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft’s Skydrive. Not only does this provide additional layers of security for backup, it also enables simpler sharing of information, while ensuring that this data remains safe and secure and cannot fall into the wrong hands.

Data loss is a reality of a digital, data-driven world, and the belief that ‘it won’t happen to me’ has become increasingly irresponsible in light of the business value of information and the consequences of data loss events. In order to ensure continued productivity and efficiency, professionals and businesses need to ensure that their data storage and backup solutions meet their needs, fit their business requirements, and provide adequate levels of security. For professionals, an external hard drive with automated backup, along with personal cloud and redundancy to public cloud services, is the ideal solution to cover all of their bases and ensure data is protected, secure and available whenever and wherever it is needed.