In today’s day and age, virtually every small business relies on computers to some degree, however, many small businesses do not protect their data sufficiently. According to a recent survey of U.S. Small Businesses, nearly 40% of participants said they have lost data due to hardware or software issues, and one third of that segment never retrieved their files. This information shows the importance of having a solid backup plan in place.
Although many companies rely on CD/DVD’s, external drives, and flash drives, all of those systems are subject to the lack of offsite redundancy, meaning if disaster were to hit your office, chances are your backups would also be destroyed. Additionally, a September, 2011 press release from Carbonite cited a statistic from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that 40 to 60 percent of small businesses never reopen after a data disaster.
To simplify the process of backing up your data, numerous online backup services have sprung up over the years to provide piece of mind however adoption has long been hindered due to fears of data breaches and identity theft. While the concerns are valid, today virtually every reputable online service uses military grade encryption to ensure confidentiality – and for companies needing an additional layer of security – many services allow you to use your own private encryption key, meaning even the backup provider cannot decrypt your data. The main disadvantage to this feature, however, is that if you were to lose the private key, it would be impossible to decode your data for restoration purposes. When using the “default” key from the provider, if something goes wrong on your end, as a fallback the backup provider can restore your data.
One major leader in the online backup space is Carbonite. The company is known for their affordable unlimited backup for home users released a small business edition offering of their services back in June 2011, which has since grown to include many additional features which are essential for today’s average small business. Some of the latest features, announced in December 2011 include: flexible restoration ability allowing businesses to prioritize select files over others, external hard drive backups – allowing businesses to backup even more critical data (a feature many competing services lack) and enhancements to the web and desktop apps for managing your Carbonite Small Business account.
Additionally, Carbonite provides apps for the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry, allowing users to access their files on the go. Complementing the mobile access is a powerful web-based user interface, which allows even the least tech-savvy business owner to manage their accounts with ease.
The service has two tiers: The Business plan at $229/year for 250GB of storage, and the Business Premier plan which is $599/year for 500GB of storage and support for Windows Server. Both plans support backing up unlimited devices, meaning as long as you are below your general cap, the plans can backup every computer in your company. Additional storage can be purchased for a nominal fee, with $46.00/year for 50GB being the starting point.
From the web interface, the administrators are provided a clear overview of which computers have which files, simplifying the general process, and also allowing business owners to better reduce clutter, which might be caught in the general backup settings.
Along with many of the basic fundamentals of any crucial backup platform, Carbonite Small Business also supports backups of Windows Servers. When run on my testing server, I found the process to be as straightforward as backing up my desktop, and the software ran flawlessly in the background without using up too much resources or causing the server to crash. For the IT pros – it is important to note that Carbonite Small Backup does not support bare metal backups – meaning that it is limited to backing up files on the system rather than a full copy of the server. Linux servers also are not supported mainly because Carbonite is geared more towards file backups rather than web servers.
Despite the previous limitations on server backups, Carbonite is a very cost effective must have backup solution for any small business owner. By focusing on one segment, Carbonite is better able to provide piece of mind for virtually any business owner regardless of technical expertise. For anything outside of the scope of Carbonite, there are more specialized tools on the market, however, for the average small business owner; the specialized tools are overkill due to their price and complexity.