It wasn’t that long ago that there was really only one solution for small business backup – Symantec was the de facto standard. When we would talk to clients about backup this was the best software available. It was really just a matter of what hardware (usually some type of tape drive) they would use to store their backed up data.
Today, if you’re a business owner or the person responsible for IT at your company, you have all sorts of options available when looking for a backup solution for small business. One thing you’ll need to do so you can make an informed decision is calculate your downtime costs. Check out our free Recovery Time Calculator to help determine the best backup service for your company.
Assuming that you have a network server with multiple users, in my opinion, you have four basic options when it comes to finding the best small business backup solution. In this article we will only address software, not tape drives or other storage/media solutions. We can save that topic for another day.
Backup Solutions to Keep Your Data on Ice
WINDOWS SERVER BACKUP
Microsoft includes backup utility software in the Server Operating System. If you’re running Server 2008 R2 or later, you have a full backup product available with your Operating System license.
When Microsoft started to include this utility with the Operating System they didn’t increase the price much at all. So, you might say, you’re getting what you pay for here. The problem we see with this product is that you don’t really have any way of knowing if your backups are successful. At least not easily. You also don’t really know if corrupt data is being backed up or if the backup is finishing as it should. And there is no way to send this data off site to a cloud data center.
In the Event of a Crash:
It will generally take a few days to get yourself functional should you have a significant server crash. And in the case of fire or flooding, without off-site storage, all your data is gone. But, if you understand these limitations and know that your business can survive a potential crash and loss of data then this could actually be a good solution for you.
Procedures can be put in place to run backups to media like USB drives that can be taken off site. I have to say, in most cases, we hear companies say they will do this but most forget to take the drives off site, or their last backups contain errors they didn’t know about. In either case the data is at risk.
Our old friend Symantec. Symantec is a recognizable name and still has a huge install base in small businesses. In simplest terms, it’s a better version of the Windows Backup utility. It can write data to multiple types of storage media. It also has add-ons specifically designed to work with Exchange Mail and SQL applications. But its feature set has been overtaken by a number of other companies that have developed their products with better ideas for the future of backup solutions.
In the Event of a Crash:
Symantec has tried to keep up with these features. The problem is that they seem to be piling code upon code, making their product more ‘buggy’ than it used to be. It also doesn’t offer off-site cloud storage. You can, however, find ways to make sure the backups are actually good. Restoring your business to full functionality in the event of a server crash is still going to be a few days.
It’s still reasonably priced though and the annual renewal fees are as well. And they have support available that is easier to access than Microsoft. If you can live with down time in the event of a crash, want more assurance that backups are viable and support for your backup product then Symantec is a viable option for you.
Like with the Windows solution, procedures can be put in place to take the data off site with USB drives – but you have to actually take them with you when you leave your office.
THE MIDDLE GROUND
Intronis, AppAssure, Veeam and Acronis are a few solutions available but there are so many products competing in this space that there is no way I could name them all. And there is a good reason so many companies are competing. Most small businesses like yours rely on technology more heavily today than they did in the past. They want to know, for certain, that their data is backed up and can be accessed quickly if needed.
These products provide better insight into whether or not the backups are good. They restore individual files (like Word or Excel files), emails and other data more quickly and easily than the first two solutions.
In the Event of a Crash:
These products are also more functional when it comes to taking “snapshots” of your server Operating System image, so getting your company functional after a crash is usually 50% faster. (Click here to learn more about the difference between data and image backups.)
Most of these products also have the ability to run backups locally and in the cloud. Should that physical disaster happen to your facility, you know you can still get your data. There are several studies that indicate most small businesses never survive a major data loss. They might survive the fire or flood, but not the loss of all their company data. We can’t stress enough how important it is to have your data off site in case of a physical disaster.
Our original ProVault solution is based on this technology. As a flat rate IT support provider we are always looking for reasonably priced but quality products that give our customers and ourselves peace of mind.
A portion of the pricing is based on how much data you store in the cloud. If you have multiple Terabytes of data (not many small businesses do) this could be a pricey solution for you.
This solution used to be called High Availability and Disaster Recovery. It still is in technical circles. But the people that coin our technology terms thought our eyes glazed over whenever someone said HA/DR! They felt we needed a term easier to understand. I suppose “Business Continuity” will have its day in the sun until the next phrase is invented by technology marketers.
Joking aside, it does make sense. These products provide businesses continuity in the face of server crashes and on-site disasters. Technology now exists that can replicate your data, and your server’s image, by the hour, both locally and to the cloud.
In the Event of a Crash:
Should your server crash, your users can quickly be redirected to a local device and normal operations can resume, usually within an hour.
And, should you incur a major disaster in which your local equipment is destroyed, your users can run the normal business operations from the cloud copy of your server. You can be back up and running within a few hours.
Good business continuity solutions offer you the comfort of knowing that you will never lose more than about an hours’ worth of data and that after a crash you can be operational in just a few hours.
It’s a bit more expensive than the middle ground, but offers an incredible solution to organizations that consider technology a significantly important asset to running their organization. It used to be, 10 years ago, that most organizations could live without email and other technology for a few hours, or even a couple of days. For many, that’s no longer the case. If that’s you, then this is the solution for you. Datto provides one of the best small business backup solutions on the market today.
About the Author: Tim O’Neil is President and co-founder of To Solution, Inc., an information technology company based in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Visit https://tosolution.com/blog to read more of Tim’s blogs or connect on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/oneiltim
About ToSolution: To Solution, Inc. is an information technology company providing computer support for small business in Waukesha, Wisconsin and the Greater Milwaukee Area, including Brookfield, Germantown, Menomonee Falls, Mequon, New Berlin, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee and all of Southeastern Wisconsin.
The company was founded in 2010 after the owners, Tim O’Neil and Dan Schneck, decided to merge their existing businesses in order to enhance their IT service offerings. ToSolution has become the managed service provider of choice for businesses seeking reliable and secure computer networks that allow people to focus on growing their business instead of worrying about technology.
If you are looking for an IT Service Provider in Waukesha, consider ToSolution for your IT Network and Security needs.