Create a Backup Plan
You know that sick-to-your-stomach, panicked feeling you get when you can’t find your wallet? You pat your pockets or check your purse and look in ridiculous places like the fridge, but you just can’t find it anywhere. Your driver’s license, credit cards, insurance ID, all of the data that’s crucial to your life is gone.
Instead of your wallet, what if all the data critical to your small business disappeared—customer contacts, financial records, marketing materials, and the intellectual property behind the products or services you sell? The items in your wallet can be replaced with a few phone calls, but you can’t restore your company’s data unless you’ve been backing it up regularly.
Haven’t been backing up? Now that’s something to panic about.
Every small business is built on data, and that data should be backed up and stored in a central location—not simply squirreled away on employees’ computers. Backing up your data can protect your small business from catastrophic data loss, which often results in lost revenue as well as a significant expense to recreate the data from scratch. Data loss can also damage your company’s reputation and erode your customers’ trust.
Backing up your data should be a top priority—not just creating a single backup but establishing a process so backups happen on a regular schedule. Here are some basic steps you can take to protect your company’s data.
- Create a backup plan. Identify and document the data both on servers and on employees’ computers that needs to be backed up. To help determine this, ask yourself these questions: Which data is the most important to my business? How often does the data change? How frequently do we need to back up our data?
- Install a network attached storage device. A network attached storage (NAS) device provides a centralized storage repository to which you can back up all data from employees’ laptops, PCs, and workstations. You can then make those backups available to everyone in the event of data loss.
- Choose and configure backup software. All PCs, laptops, and workstations should have backup software installed on them. The program should let you easily select the files to back up; indicate where to store them; schedule the backups to run regularly; and, most importantly, automate the backups so employees don’t have to remember to launch them. Some backup applications can be configured to automatically back up important files as soon as changes are made.
- Schedule backups. Whenever possible, have your backup software run in the middle of the night, when few employees are accessing and updating files. Depending on the importance of the data, you may opt to schedule automatic backups to run every hour, every day, every week, or every month. Some files may need to be backed up every night, while others that aren’t changed very often can be safely backed up once a month.
- Check the backup files. After you’ve run your first backup, it’s a good idea to check the file to make sure that the data you wanted backed up was indeed backed up. Also, verify your settings and confirm that you can restore data from the backed up file—before you absolutely need to.