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Backup your data or face a fine
Monday, 17 August 2009 06:53

Having a backup plan in place to protect against IT infrastructure failure is crucial for businesses. David Friend, CEO Carbonite, looks at how SMEs with a limited IT budget can ensure secure off-site backup is implemented to avoid losing precious data.

The statistics are staggering: every year 43 per cent of computer users lose irreplaceable files. There are a wide variety of causes, including hard drive crashes, theft, power surges, natural disasters, or accidental deletion of files. Businesses need to be aware that losing the most valuable files is a very real possibility and the proper precautions need to be taken. The loss of business critical data can be fatal; operational downtime can cost a business thousands of pounds a day.

All businesses operating with the UK are legally obligated to keep certain data record for a minimum of seven years   Not doing so could lead to a hefty fine or even prison sentence if vital data cannot be provided upon request.  However, even the most careful business owner can not guarantee they, or one of their workers, will not  misplace a vital email, or suffer data loss from a hard drive crash.  Up to 13 per cent of hard drives crash in their first year.

Data backup is not always a number one priority when running a business, especially on a limited IT budget.  So how can you ensure the peace of mind that your data is backed up securely?  One option is to implement an automatic online backup system like Carbonite that offers both the convenience of a regular backup routine and off-site data backup.  

How does it work? Once installed on a computer, online backup software runs in the background searching for new and edited files that are backed up to secure, offsite servers.  This data is then copied and double encrypted (for security purposes) before being transferred over a broadband Internet connection to the service's remote servers.  To make this process as simple and unobtrusive as possible for businesses,  online backup can operate a 'set and forget' policy.  Files are automatically backed up by the software, removing the time intensive manual element of backing up.  This provides employees with more capacity for business critical activity, eliminating the risk of human error hindering the backup routine.

Increasingly, SMEs are turning to online backup because any lost files are easy to recover, even if an entire hard drive of data is lost or destroyed.  Users simply log into their account, download the entire contents of their hard drive to a new machine and can start working again immediately. Restored files are even arranged in the same sub folders they were previously stored in.   Individually lost files can also be restored to the same machine they were deleted from, meaning files are always accessible at a moment's notice from a ‘virtual hard drive’.  

Accounts can be accessed through any PC with an Internet connection, even when backup software is not installed, via web access.  If a travelling worker loses their laptop on the train, or leaves a USB stick containing a vital presentation in a cab, it can be accessed through any computer in the world and restored quickly.  

Many online backup services offer an unlimited amount of online backup space for an annual fee.  These costs, around £35 a year, are significantly less that the ongoing costs of acquiring backup hardware and operating an ongoing backup routine.

In order to further minimise impact on business, online backup software can be set to automatically back up data overnight.  This means that backup can be carried out when a computer is not in use, reducing the impact on the machine’s processing power and ensuring there is no interference with the user's computer usage.

Keeping a local copy of data is by no means a bad idea.  However, with online backup, data is stored on multiple disk drives making it 36 million times more reliable than an individual hard drive.  By backing up the backups, a business can double protect itself against data loss and ensure compliance with the law at the same time.

David Friend is CEO of Carbonite, an online backup provider based in Boston. More information on Carbonite can be found at www.carbonite.co.uk.  


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