Every Small Business Deserves a Backup Solution

Broken pots on a window sill - Daniel Tafjord on Unsplash

Would your small business survive if your laptop is broken beyond repair? If you would lose all your documents, financial records, pictures -- everything.

The only way to recover from such event is backups. Insurance policies cannot restore your lost documents, even if they cover up the costs of a broken laptop and possible losses of documents.

All businesses no matter then size needs a backup system.

Characteristics of a Good Backup Solution

When selecting a backup system, there are things that you need to consider:

  • Stores the history of changes - you can recover a deleted photo from 2014, the capabilities of returning old files depend on the storage capacity of a backup solution
  • User-friendly - is it easy to set up and operate, i.e. will it notify the administrator (that's you) if there are problems with backup system?
  • Fault tolerant - many backup systems store the data in multiple hard disks for fault tolerance
  • Geography - the data is stored in multiple geographical locations

A Simple Categorization of Different Backup Systems

You can divide backups into two separate buckets:

  • Automatic vs. Manual
  • Remote vs. Local

Remote Backups

Remote backups are typically handled via remote backup service. They are subscription-based services, charging a monthly or yearly fee. It’s a third party service, and if it goes out of business, you might lose your backup solution abruptly.

The backup service is as fast as your internet connection is. If you have a slow connection, the backup takes time to complete. Remote backup services have an encryption password or login credentials that you need to keep safe. If you lose them (or they are stolen), you need to contact the support.

Local Backups

Local backups are stored within your house or apartment. It’s a physical product called NAS (network attached storage) that is connected to your computer directly or through a local network.

It needs electricity and ventilated space to put it in. If you want more safety from fire or robbery, you need to put it inside a safe. It most likely has the best storage capacity adjusted with price and it does not have any subscription fees.

Automatic Backups

These are easy. If everything works, you don’t have to worry about a thing. Many backup systems are automatic, and the backups are at least few hours old. However, the initial setup of the automatic backup takes time.

Manual Backups

Manual backup is the do-it-yourself of all backup solutions. You select the files and copy them on the storage. It takes take, it’s easy to forget, and it’s easy to postpone. But even if this sounds very tedious, it’s better than no backups. If you have no backup system in place, start with this.

Examples for Products/Services in Each Category

USB flash drive - Brina Blum on Unsplash

Category Solution/Device Description
Manual + Local USB flash drive Plugin the USB memory stick, manually copy the files
Automatic + Local Apple TimeCapsule Very easy to set up, Mac only
Automatic + Remote Dropbox Dropbox is a file hosting service that syncs local files into Dropbox services
Automatic + Remote OneDrive Microsoft operated file sharing platform, Windows and Mac OS
Automatic + Remote iCloud  Apple managed cloud storage, Mac, and Windows
Manual + Remote Email Email your important document to yourself

Restoring a Backup

Backup is worthless unless you can recover your documents. If your recovery procedure is in place, you just get a new computer, restore the backup and resume working. It sounds like a dream scenario, but it’s possible to achieve.

Recommendation of a Good Enough Backup System

There is no such thing as a perfect backup system. If you want a 99.99% level of safety, it will cost a small fortune. For small businesses, this following set up is enough. Businesses that have few computers to backup and no centralized file storage server. This is easy to set up and it provides good enough protection for normal small business usage.

Recommendation: Apple Time Capsule and Dropbox

Apple Time Capsule and Dropbox

Apple Time Capsule automatically backs up your computer locally, with a reasonable granularity of changes in the backup history. Please note that Apple Time Capsure works only with Apple computers. There are other devices as well, but the user-friendliness is not on the same level. If you are looking for a backup solution that works with Microsoft Windows, consult your local computer shop.

Dropbox stores files remotely, giving a geographical diversification. Dropbox is an entirely independent service, so the files are not stored in same cloud infrastructure as Google or Apple.

Restoring a backup with Apple Time Capsule is best in the market. The repair is initiated on your laptop, so you don’t have to touch Time Capsule at all.

With this solution, you need to have a credit card and store two pieces of information securely:

  • Dropbox login and password
  • Time Capsule administrator password

There you go, with this set up your stress level will go down and the quality of sleep goes up.

References:

Note: The services and products mentioned in this article have no affiliation with Tinyinvoice.