How to backup small business data…

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times by now – backup your data. If you store business and customer data on your computer (and who doesn’t nowadays?), you need a safe and secure way to back up and store your data. Computers do break and it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when? And that’s 100% guaranteed…

Backing up your QuickBooks data locally on your computer is not a safe backup. Should your computer decide to crash beyond repair, you’ll loose your backup as well. You’ll need to backup your business data locally in the place of office/business and offsite (in the cloud). Yes, you should have both type of backups. The local backup protects against computer crash, while offsite backup protects data against your office/business impacted by disasters such as fire, flood, etc.

How to back up business data locally?

The simplest way to backup business data is to copy the data to an external storage device. The type of device selected is dependent on the size of the data. The USB flash drive is on option, that nowadays can store up to 256 GBs of data. For most small businesses a 16-32 GBs USB flash drive, for about $30.00, should be sufficient. Once you backup your QuickBooks and/or customer data locally on the computer, then simply copy/paste these backups on your USB flash drive. You can also keep this flash drive with you, after copying the backups, in case your office “disappears”. If you carry the flash drive with you, you should protect it against loss by encrypting the data.

For hundreds of GBs of data an external hard disk drive (with USB, eSATA, etc., interface) should be selected, about $90.00 for one TBs. Most of these external hard drives include software to synchronize and/or backup your data. Once you install and configure the software, the backup takes place in the background, without further interaction with the backup process. You could take the external hard drive with you when you leave the office, but it’s rather bulky and may get damaged, if dropped, magnetic field, etc.

How about the security of the local backups?

It depends on the level of security that your data requires. You could just password protect your QuickBooks and/or customer databases. You could also keep all of your backups in one folder, use WinZip with password protection to the external storage device to store the data. If your business data requires greater protection, you should select a USB flash drive and/or hard disk drive that supports encrypting the backup. Similarly to password protecting files, the encryption relies on a password to protect the data. Some caution about encryption…

Encryption is a double-edged sword; while encrypting data with password is easy, decryption is nearly impossible without the password. If you loose your password, you will not be able to access your data. For this reason, my recommendation is to write down the password and store it in a secure place. No, storing the password at or around your computer is not a secure place. Storing it in your wallet, smartphone, etc., are better suited options.

How about offsite (in the cloud) backup?

The simplest way describing in the cloud back up is to basically copying your local backup to the cloud.

Depending on the size of the data being backed up and your internet connection’s transfer speed, there are number of options available. Some of them are for free, such as Dropbox, Microsoft Skydrive, Google, etc., and provide around 4 GBs storage per account. These solutions requires software installation, they create a folder on your computer, and its content is synchronized to the cloud.

For example, Dropbox software will create a folder named “Dropbox” on your computer. Any changes to the files in this folder are transferred to your account at Dropbox. The simplest way to back up your data into the cloud is to store your local data and/or backup in that folder. Every time there’s a change in to the “Dropbox” folder, it’ll be uploaded to the cloud without any additional steps required. Most of the cloud storage places do encrypt the data on their servers; however, employees of the company can access your data. If you don’t want them to have access to your data, you’ll need to select an offsite solution that provides client side encryption.

Some of the solutions for client side encryption are free, such as SpyderOak upto 4 GBs storage, while others, such as Carbonite, charge a monthly fee for the service. Most of them offer a free trial for 30-day and you should try them to evaluate the suitability of the service for your needs. In either case, they work similarly to Dropbox; they create a folder and synchronize its content to the cloud. The difference is that, if you loose your password for these solutions, the company cannot help you to decrypt your files. As mentioned earlier, encryption is a double-edged sword…

Based on your requirements and technical knowledge level, select the back up type that suits your small business the best and requires the least interaction for successfully backing up your business data. Should you need help in selection process and setting up your backups, please contact us at at our website