By David Fox

All businesses store digital data that’s vital to their ongoing success. It follows that a good backup of this data is also required. For this reason, it is crucial to utilise the best backup storage and strategy for particular use cases. The best backup strategy allows a business to recover from technical problems or disasters, should they occur.

In this article, we explore some different categories of small businesses, with a focus on their special data requirements and constraints. We then make some suggestions as to how best to achieve a secure and reliable backup.

What makes backup storage needs for small businesses different?

While a business may be small, it doesn’t follow that the quantity of data generated is also small.

For example, accounting or law businesses might mostly generate office-document type data. Whereas, small video production or graphic design business may create more data than a large accounting firm. Media data, e.g., movies, graphics, and audio, is far more significant larger in size than office-document data and needs to be catered for. 

The trend for using cloud services for email, file-sharing, and document creation is growing. This means there is a move away from small businesses having many on-premise computers acting as ‘servers’ that share data internally.

However, any on-premise servers require backing up. A strong trend towards virtualizing servers with ‘hypervisor’ products such as VMware, means that small businesses often employ VM’s for ease of management – these too require backing up.

If workstations (desktop and laptops) are storing copies of files that don’t also exist on servers, these too should be backed up.

Any competent backup strategy should stick to the time-honored 3-2-1 backup rule, which states that you should have:

  • 3 copies of your important data (your live production copy plus two additional backup copies)
  • 2 different types of media used to store backups (e.g., hard disks, LTO-tape and cloud storage)
  • 1 backup copy stored off-site for disaster recovery

Funds may be tight in a small business. In addition, there are likely limited in-house IT skills, perhaps with some reliance on an external IT services company. Therefore the backup strategy employed must be cost-effective and straightforward enough non-IT specialist can undertake setup and maintenance.

3 Backup Storage Options for Small Businesses

Let’s consider three different options, taking some examples of small businesses using the best backup storage for each use case.

Option 1: Data consisting mostly of office documents.

This type of company likely has some on-premise server capability—perhaps a small NAS storage device from Synology or QNAP. They also use hosted cloud services for email, telephony, and some shared storage, e.g., Dropbox.

Backup #1 – Save all data from internal servers to disk using Archiware P5 Backup. This backup runs daily and can source data from multiple different computers and operating systems. Target these backups to hard-drives, preferably a RAID array.

Backup #2 – Backup #2 is similar to backup #1. However, this time, the data is saved to a cloud service. There is a wealth of cloud services; nonetheless, some include Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, Google, BackBlaze, and several other vendors. This step provides the second off-site backup.

Optional Workstation backup – Use Archiware Backup2Go to backup any important workstation-based data to disk. This backup can run every few hours to capture files as they are changing throughout the day. The backups can also save the backup data created by Backup2Go in steps 1 and 2 above.

Option 2: Media-creating business, creating larger quantities of data.

Such a business, while small, can create many terabytes of data via video, audio and other types of digital media data. On-premise servers are used to store work in progress.

Backup #1 – Save all data from internal servers to LTO tape using Archiware P5 Backup. LTO Tape has the advantage that it can comfortably cope with many TB of data, both in terms of speed and capacity. This backup runs daily and can source data from multiple different computers and operating systems.

Backup #2 – The same tape hardware used in the above step may also be used to archive completed media work away from the servers, into a permanent tape archive. Archiware P5 Archive can accomplish this task. Archiving data moves it from the primary disk storage, thereby making the amount of data needing to be backed up smaller and more manageable.

Optional Workstation backup – see the same step above.

Backup #3 – Same as backup #1 this time saving the same data to a cloud service. The same cloud services—Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, Google, BackBlaze, and several other vendors—may be used. This step provides the off-site backup.

Option 3 – Business employing virtualized servers using VMware

Backup #1 – Save all data from internal VM servers to disk using Archiware Pure

Backup #2 – Save backup data stored by Archiware Pure to cloud using Archiware P5 Backup, depositing data into cloud storage provided. This step provides the off-site backup.


Conclusions

By following the 3-2-1 backup rule, the best backup storage for the task, and employing a quality software solution that comprises all the different elements needed, it’s not difficult to plan your disaster recovery workflows for small businesses.

Trial version of all the Archiware P5 modules are available from p5.archiware.com.

What’s the Best Backup Storage for Small Businesses?