The importance of Data Protection

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Small businesses face the same basic data protection challenges as large businesses. The dangers and potential costs of unprotected data can easily be catastrophic. Unfortunately, small business IT departments, if they have one, have far fewer resources to address the problem then larger businesses. According to an established IT research firm, 46% of small businesses have less than 4 IT people and 60% have a storage budget of less than $50,000. Most small businesses I talked spend significantly less - $50 for a USB storage device.

Compounding the problem, small businesses increasingly face the same distributed data protection challenges that plague larger companies. As branch offices proliferate and employees spend more and more time on the road or working from home, critical business data is being created and stored, usually on a laptop or desktop, away from the main office.

Being a small business doesn't save a health care company or brokerage firm from having its data retention polices audited by regulators. Litigation can happen to anyone. Earthquakes, blackouts, fires, and hurricanes don't discriminate between small and large firms. Losing data and then having to recreate it from scratch are enormous.

A recent Computerworld survey of IT professionals found that of those who reported data loss in the previous six months, 50 percent said the data was lost from desktops, and 24 percent said the loss was from branch offices.

Most small businesses use tape backup as their primary means of protecting their valuable corporate data. What is really interesting is most tape backups routinely fail. Enterprise Strategy Group estimates that 60% of traditional backups fail. Small businesses rarely have the time or expertise to test their backups.

Several years ago, my laptop was stolen from my car during a dinner meeting. At the time, my company used a manual process requiring employees to copy their documents to the network. I followed this process for a few weeks and then stopped doing it. I lost three months worth of data and it was a painful, time consuming, and embarrassing process to recover my documents.

What is the alternative? With more and more people working remotely, on site tape backups or manual processes are costly to implement and unreliable. There are low cost alternatives that automate the backup process and store the data securely offsite. On-demand remote backup allows businesses to backup data without the associated capital costs with pricing based on the amount of data protected. Costs are usually a $1 - 3 per GB per month.

On-demand remote backup is simple to implement and the backups occur automatically as long as your computer is connected to the internet. The first backup generally takes several hours because this backup includes all of your business documents. My initial backup was 1.5 GB and it took about 3 hours. Subsequent backups only include new or changed files and typically takes less than 10 minutes.

A lot of people are interested in this service but are concerned about security. Good services use 128/256 -bit encryption and only authorized people can access the data. What's safer, a USB storage device that usually sits on top of the server a business is trying to protect or an enterprise class storage device housed in a tier 1 data center?

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