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Backing up data is vital in today’s technology driven world. Sensitive information, important documents, files, or reports sometimes get lost. When this happens, having a copy stored on the cloud or on an external hard drive will save you plenty of headaches. Check out this article to familiarize yourself with three popular backup options available for companies and find out how to set up a data backup plan.

We live in a data driven economy. Most of us understand that keeping data secure and backed up is essential for our personal and professional lives. Without immediate and constant data availability, companies can find it impossible to resume their operations. Backup allows you to guarantee your company and your clients’ data integrity. However, there are still plenty of professionals out there who don’t have a solid strategy in place when it comes to data loss. According to a study conducted on behalf of Backblaze, only 6 percent of users take the time to properly backup on a daily basis.

Your data should also be protected in case your business is hit by a natural disaster. The U.S. Small Business Administration found that 25 percent of businesses never reopen following a major disaster. Crafting a backup plan that protects your data against worst-case scenarios is your best chance to beat the odds when the unexpected happens. Here are four steps you should take to keep your sensitive information secure.

Step 1: Research Backup Solutions and Pick One That Suits Your Needs

There are three popular backup options you can choose from. We’ve gathered additional information about each one below, to help you make a more informed decision.

  • Cloud Services

The main advantage of backing up your files using the cloud is that you will have your most important data backed up off-site. It will be protected from theft or natural disasters and immediately available. To boost security even more, scramble your files with encryption before entrusting them to an external organization. About.com reviewed 37 online backup services – take a look at their article to find out more about what each of them have to offer and where they fall short.

Despite the advantages of storing your data on the cloud, this option can prove impractical for certain companies, especially if you deal with large files. Make sure that you have enough Internet bandwidth to backup data online and ask the provider if they would be willing to send you physical data backups in case downloading information from the cloud takes too long.

  • Network Attached Storage (NAS)

Network-attached storage (NAS) is a type of dedicated file storage device that provides local-area network (LAN) users with centralized, consolidated disk storage through a standard Ethernet connection or Wi-Fi. Unlike a regular server, its sole purpose is to save and backup data. Once installed, it will appear as an add-on drive on your computer. You can then drag your important files on the external drive or use an option that automatically backs up your data as often as you want.

The only disadvantage is that network-attached storage can get quite expensive. However, due to the high level of protection it offers, you should definitely consider it. Also, upgrade your online security as well – supporting an increasing number of devices can be troublesome for your IT team. Proxy Networks (www.proxynetworks.com) had some useful tips that will help in this department.

  • External Hard Disk Drives

Backing up your data using external disk drives is the simplest solution available, especially when you’re running a small enterprise and don’t have an in-house IT department. External hard drives connect via USB or wireless, are relatively cheap, and extremely portable. The only challenge is to remember to connect the drive with your system on a regular basis. If you go the external drive way, USB flash drives pose as excellent add-on tools when it comes to backing up data.

Alternatively, you can take it one step further and choose disaster-proof hard drives to cover your backup needs. This is especially recommended if you live in an area prone to natural disasters.

Analyze the options listed above and figure out which one will work best for you. Keep in mind that no solution is better than the other – it all comes down to your particular needs and preferences. For a full-proof system, consider implementing multiple backup strategies. If one fails, you will have the other one to rely on.

Step 2: Consult With the IT Department

Your IT staff can provide useful advice about which options to choose and can help you make a solid backup plan to keep your data safe. Weigh costs and benefits together and craft a backup plan that best suits your needs.

Step 3: Instill a Backup Policy

Creating a backup policy is one of the more important things you can do to keep your sensitive data secure. It will help you and your employees understand how to effectively back up data and make sure it’s safe in case disaster hits. The policy should include the method/s of backup you plan to use, what type of data must be backed up, how often those files need to be backed up, and how to keep backups protected. For an example of backup policy, take a look here.

Step 4: Provide Training

Besides understanding the backup policy, you staff also has to learn how to follow it. Provide professional training if necessary and keep a close eye on how the backup process is going during the first months.

Having a solid backup system in place goes a long way to ensuring the integrity of your company’s sensitive data. Consider the steps above and make sure you’ve taken all the necessary precautions to keep your files safe. It’s the only way to be covered in case of data loss.

<p>Congratulations for writing this <em>very important</em> piece. But the lack of response from readers confirms what the article says: very few people realize the real need to backup. I have just lost some photos and most of my music from the micro SD card in my cheap cellphone for no apparent reason. Fortunately, the music came from my original CD's, but re-recording all of near to 600 songs will be a chore. And the photos had two more copies in two separate computers, so reinstalling them will be possible but will take some more of my scares free time. Amclaussen, Mexico City.</p>
<p>Very nice information, and so important in this day and age! Thanks for sharing your detailed knowledge!</p>

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Bio: Lydia Peters is a Huston-based freelance writer with over seven years of experience. She mostly covers technology, social media and finance, but doesn’t stay ... More »
More by Lydia Peters:Backing Up: Three Options to Keep Your Data Safe 
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