For business owners, the information age has been a bittersweet mix of increased productivity while also balancing ways to preserve mission critical data and files. Despite an increasing reliance on technology, many companies lack a sufficient disaster recovery plan when it comes to their systems.
Although CD/DVD’s, flash drives, external drives, and even tape devices have long been viewed as sufficient for backup, the all require user interaction for even routine tasks, having limited capacities, being prone to physical damage, and the issue of storing those backups in a secure manner. In addition, the crucial component missing from the previously mentioned systems is off-site redundancy, meaning that most backups are stored in the same location as the systems vulnerable to damage.
Today, many companies and individuals are turning to online backups as a solid addition to add to their disaster preparedness arsenal because storage is very affordable and the data centers powering the internet are being held to very stringent physical and digital security standards, essentially making them the Fort Knox of computer storage; a level of security most businesses can only dream of conforming to.
A pioneer for online backup in the small and mid-sized business sector (SMB) is Carbonite. Founded in 2005 with an original focus of providing “set it and forget it” backup services for the average consumer (currently priced at $59/year per computer), in June of this year, Carbonite launched a version of their service for SMB’s called Carbonite Business. The service is offered in Business and Business Premier Plans with 250GB of storage and 500GB of storage priced at $229 and $599 per year respectively.
The small business offering is ideal for many business owners in that unlike companies which charge “per user” fees, Carbonite Business lets you back up as many computers as desired as long as you have enough storage in your plan. The Premier plan includes the ability to backup Windows Server systems from version 2003 onwards, plus support for Microsoft SQL and Exchange backup files. Carbonite does not support backing up applications and operating system files.
In addition to the backup services, both plans include applications for the Android, Blackberry, and iPhone to ensure that you have secure access to your files no matter where you are.
Despite the extra capabilities in Carbonite Business, the program is as simple to use as the consumer edition, making it a breeze to configure your backups and to ensure that everything is on the up and up. Additionally, Carbonite has US-based technical support always ready from 8 a.m. to midnight seven days per week, so assistance is never too far away.
In an interview with Pete Lamson, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Small Business division of Carbonite, Lamson provided some validation of Carbonite’s service by pointing out that since its founding in 2005, the service has drawn over one million customers and that the service has backed up over 180 billion files and restored over 7.2 billion customer files. Regarding security, Lamson discussed how when Carbonite is used to backup data, they use bank grade encryption when the files are being transferred, and when it comes to storage, their data centers are fully compliant with not just banking standards, but also HIPAA and other rigorous standards which are required of mission critical centers.
When asked about the ideal market for their small business offering, Lamson said that they specifically designed it for companies with around three to twenty persons since their primary focus is providing affordable and reliable backup solutions to the small business market.
Going back to the fundamentals of the backup system, in addition to backing up your files as changes are made (or at a specified time), Carbonite Business also enables versioning with your files such that if you made an accidental change to a file, a prior version can be restored.
Despite the many advantages of Carbonite over non-online methods, one key point mentioned on the Carbonite website is that the service does not provide archival of data beyond 30 days, meaning that if a file is deleted from your system, it will be removed from Carbonite after 30 days. In addition, the real time backup capabilities mean that if a file is changed without you knowing, the file will be difficult to recover in the long run. The best way to combat this problem is to use Carbonite in conjunction with a secondary backup system (such as using imaging software such as Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image), although if you have very demanding backup needs, there is another provider which is worth mentioning.
Backup My Info! (BUMI) like Carbonite offers online backup, but in addition they offer permanent data archival, proactive monitoring of backups and storage, additional server technology support (Oracle, SQL, Windows, and others), and enhanced data transfer capabilities when it comes to the pipe between your company and the BMI data centers. The additional capabilities come at a premium as BMI charges at least $150/month for its services.
In an interview with Jennifer Walzer, President of Backup My Info, Walzer explained that BUMI’s service is specifically meant for companies with more rigorous needs and that their higher price allows them to offer enhanced services. She went on to discuss how BMI is more ideal for enterprises, especially which in finance, medical, and other data intensive environments as those industries typically need high performance solutions.
When asked if BMI had any plans to offer a more affordable solution, she said BMI has no plans to offer a lower priced solution as BUMI is keeping a focus on high performance backup which is difficult to adapt on a large scale without hiking costs.
Regardless of the methods you use to store data, if you have a computer it’s always important to have at least two forms of backup for each of your systems because as the saying goes, “You never should keep all your eggs in one basket.” For simplicity, however, it is ideal to have at least one online service and one offline service such that you can have some archival capabilities along with the security of having a backup in a highly secure location.