A Solid Approach to Home Office and Small Business Computer Data Backup

Is your business or home office computer getting the quality of data backup to prevent disasters? Do you have an I.T. consulting company helping you?

I have two main concerns for all of my clients.

1. Is their computer ad network secure? 2. Is their data being backed up in a reliable and consistent method?

If the answer is yes to both of those questions, you are in a mere few percent of SOHO (small office/home office) businesses.

If the answer is no, read on.

For this article lets just focus on backup. First, lets take a home office user with only 1 computer. This computer hosts documents, emails, QuickBooks or accounting data and other important files. By default, the computer has 1 hard drive. Hard drives spin at 7200 RPM (Rounds per Minute) and are the 2nd most common part of a PC to fail (next to the power supply). This drive fails and you are looking at expensive to deathly expensive data recovery bills with no guarantee that the data can even be recovered (our experience, about 75%).

So what to do for the average budget. Keep the computer maintained through a reliable computer consultant. Have it checked out minimum once every 3-6 month and cleaned up / tuned up.

Then, we recommend this setup. A custom built external hard drive enclosure with a quality hard drive. We recommend this because we know the quality of the drive going in the unit and we can choose a higher end drive. Install the drive as an external hard drive directly to the computer via USB 2.0. (This is called DAS Direct Attached Storage). Then use a program such as GFI Backup Home Edition (Free) or Cobian backup (Free). No need for an expensive backup solution. Have it professionally setup for backup of your data into compressed ZIP files once or twice a week.

But this is not all. This provides what we call a “LOCAL” backup. Now we need an offsite (NON-Local) backup. You’ve heard the advertisements: Mozy and Carbonite. Carbonite is the most painless and priced right program we have found. For this setup, this program is decent and reliable.

You now have your data and 2 backups. Remember, your I.T. consultant should always check backups to make sure they are running when they are there.

Next, for the small business with a network. You have a server. We add 1 layer of backup. The Home Office user has 2 layers. The networked business user has 3 layers. Layer One: The server should have a RAID array of hard drives. For an easy explanation, this means basically you have multiple hard drives that are acting as one. If one hard drive fails, you can replace it and it will rebuild. So the hard drives essentially back each other up. Ideally a RAID 5 with 3 hard drives is just right. So if you have 3 500 gig hard drives, that is 1.5 Terabyte of space. But only 1 Terabyte is usable. The rest is being used to backup the other 2 drives.

Layer two of the small business is the local backup. Same concept as the Home Office. An external hard drive. This time however, add a cooling fan on the external device for sure. (Recommended for home office as well, but required for the business!). This will keep the external hard drive cool and ready for all the abuse it takes. Once again Cobian (Free) can usually work. If the server has a database, then the database should be backing itself up nightly. Then that Backup can be included in the Cobian backup. Otherwise you need a backup solution that will backup databases (SQL, etc). Something like Acronis Professional ($ 900) is possibly the right product. This backup should run 3-6 times/week. Depending on what your consultant decides and advises.

Layer three of small business is the offsite remote backup. Stay away from the cheap stuff at this point. The draw back of Carbonite and others is it keeps a backup of each file, and only 1 version of each. Our backup program, SOS Support Remote Backup is a service through RackSpace, one of the leaders of hosting and offsite data. The difference? This service first and foremost has versions designed to work with servers. But most importantly, it will keep revisions of backups for the previous 60 days! So if you have a file modified or corrupted in Carbonite, the Carbonite will backup the “changed file” and the backed up file will also be corrupt. With SOS Support Remote Backup we can go back a week, and get the uncorrupted file.

This may be pretty detailed, more so than business owners need to know. But take it as a guide that you need 2-3 layers of backup depending on your situation.

Please feel free to contact us and view our services. Find us online at http://www.sossupport.net – We are based out of Utah, Salt Lake City area. But we have technicians available across the country via our network of professionals.