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Ask Yourself These 2 Questions

Backup Your Data-3I have 2 questions for you: 1) What can be more boring than talking about backing up your data? 2) What can be more disruptive to your business than losing all your data?

The answer to #1 is that it pretty well tops the list of boring subjects. And the answer to #2 is that it pretty well tops the list of disruptive events. So at the risk of you nodding off, I think that this subject merits your full attention. And subsequent action. 

We seem to have an insatiable appetite for more and more data and files. Every year we have more. More documents, books, PDF’s, photos and videos. It won’t ever decrease in size, and, as far as we can tell, digital data is not going away in the foreseeable future. Statements, books, and periodicals are often offered in digital format. Soon they won’t give us a choice. Digital everything. 

In business you need to track contracts and projects. Photos can help you look into the past and diagnose a problem by “seeing” inside the wall. Documents can potentially help you avoid a law suit. Everything could be potentially very important, depending on the circumstances. So, safeguarding this data, some of which is irreplaceable, is of paramount importance. 

In this article I’ll go over, very briefly, how you can guard against data loss. 

There are 4 ways you might backup your data:

  1. On a physical device at your office
  2. On a physical device at a remote location of your choice
  3. On the cloud
  4. Other cloud storage options

Let’s go over each of these options in more detail. Keep in mind that keeping multiple copies of your data is key. That’s called data redundancy. I suggest you keep at least three different copies of your data, in various locations. 

Before I get into the details of each storage option, let’s go over some important facts about data storage devices. One key thing to remember when backing up to a physical hard drive, is that someday that hard drive will fail. On average most spinning drives (HD’s) will last from 3 to 5 years. Keep this in mind. All hard drives will fail – it’s just a matter of “when”. This is one reason that you need data redundancy. Most of your computers are still using spinning hard drives. Almost all external drives also are spinning hard drives, although we are starting to see an increase in more reliable solid state drives (SSD). [An SSD has no moving parts, and although they are too new to really know, their lifespan is estimated to be between 10 to 100 years, which is longer than your laptop, or for that matter, the data format in use today, will last.]

Backblaze hard drive failure rate

Onward…

  1. On a physical device at your office
    • On your computer – this is the data that you want to protect; this and the other computers in the office. Some people put a second drive in their computer, and copy (mirror) all the data to the second drive. This could be helpful, but it might slow your computer down a bit. Also if the computer is stolen or burned in a fire, all your data will be gone. 
    • On a flash drive or thumb drive – thumb drives have gotten much bigger and cheaper of late. A 32 GB may cost as little as $15.00 now; a 64 GB for under $29.00. We make a practice, in addition to all our other backup methods, to back up all our accounting information and Word documents on a thumb drive, and take it with us when we leave the office. This is a very good practice, so I advise you to try this. It’s fast and easy. 
    • On an external hard drive – you can buy huge external hard drives very cheap now. If you use backup software, you can automate the backup routine. Here are some backup software programs you might consider:
      • Acronis True Image 2014 Family Pack – $49 – for PC
      • Norton Security with Backup – PC or Mac $59
      • Time Machine – simple backup built into the Apple operating system. All you have to do is hook up an external drive to your computer and turn Time Machine on. That’s it. It will back up your computer and even offer you versions from previous dates. Free – comes with all Apple laptops and desktops. 
    • On a NAS device – NAS stands for Network-Attached Storage, meaning it is a central place where data is accessed and stored.
      • Drobo makes what’s called a NAS storage array. (Here is a link to one of their newer popular models, the Drobo 5N.) An array has several hard drives installed in a single device. If one fails, the other takes over, so it is very unlikely you’ll lose data. This would depend on how many drives you put in it and how much data you have. These devices are very friendly, and you can install drives using no tools at all. Just slide a new drive in and that’s it.
  2. On a physical device at a remote location of your choice (private cloud)
    • On a NAS device located somewhere other than your office
      • One such device is called Transporter. The Transporter is a very simple NAS that you can use to store and distribute your files. The unique feature of Transporter is that it is your very own cloud storage, allowing you to access your data from anywhere there is an internet connection. You can also share files or folders with others. It can store up to 2 TB of data. Another very unique feature of this NAS is that it can sync with another Transporter. You might keep one at your office, and another at your home. If one fails you still have your data. One caveat to keep in mind is that the data can only be read by a Transporter. If you remove the disk and try to read it on another computer, it won’t work. 
  3. On the cloud
    • On the cloud merely means that you are uploading your data to a remote location/server and trusting someone else with its care. Here are a few of the companies that offer this service. These are plans that will automatically backup your data.
      • Crashplan Family Plan – this is a plan I have used for about three years. It is unique in that it offers backup for 2-10 computers, both PC and Mac, and offers unlimited storage. It also will backup external hard drives. No other plan that I’ve reviewed offers so much value. It works automatically in the background, and will notify you with weekly reports on the backup status of each computer. $12.50/mo for 2-10 computers, Unlimited Data, includes external hard drive backup.
      • CrashplanPro for Business – This plan offers more features for businesses. Compare the features with Crashplan Family Plan and see if this is something you need. $10/mo per computer
      • BackBlaze – This would be my second choice for automatic backup. The company has a great reputation and offers good service. It’s fast too, as the name implies. The only reason I don’t use it is that it is per computer. $50/yr/computer, unlimited data.
      • CarbonitePro – One of the first companies to offer this kind of backup service to the consumers. You pay per amount of storage rather than per user. $270/year for 250 GB, unlimited amount of computers, external hard drives, and backs up NAS devices.
      • Carbonite – $60/year/computer PC or Mac, no external HD (requires a pricier plan), PC only
      • MozyPro – Mozy is one of the most expensive plans. $1,045/year for 250 GB Unlimited computers
      • MozyHome – $120/yr for 125 GB
  4. Other cloud storage options
    • Dropbox – definitely a must for every savvy user. Drop box is free and gives you up to 2 GB of storage. Once you get used to it, you’ll most likely get Dropbox Pro which gives you a hefty 1 TB of storage. I think this is one of the easiest and most stable cloud storage in existence. There are too many features and advantages to tell you about them here. Just sign up for an account and try it. I think you’ll agree.
    • SugarSync – Like Dropbox, but has the capability to sync folders of your choice. 250 GB for $100/year
    • Amazon Prime Photos – if you have a Prime account with Amazon, then you already have this storage available. Prime Photos uploads photos from your mobile device automatically and you can upload photos from your computers- full resolution and unlimited storage. It’s not the end-all of photo management, but definitely worth using as another place to store and display your photos. I’m experimenting with two mobile devices signed into the same Amazon account, and so far it is capturing both of their photos. If this works, you can put all your family/business photos in a central location. By the way, Amazon Prime, which offers free shipping in two days, has many other perks, such as Prime Photos, Prime Music (over a million songs), Prime Instant Video (40,000 movies and TV shows), and Kindle Owners’ Lending library. Prime is an incredible value at $99 per year.

Just Do It!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s Wrap-up, but mostly I hope you take to heart how important it is to backup your data. In multiple places. Do some research on various ways to store your data. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each home, company, and business has different needs. Research and then start implementing. Do this today. Make it your goal to never have to agonize over lost data. There are many ways you can protect your data, and it has never been easier. “Data redundancy means never having to say you’re sorry.” I heard that somewhere. 

Wishing you the best of fortune, Randall

This article was written by Randall Soules, remodeling coach, adviser, educator, and creator of the Scientific Remodeling System, showing you better ways to advance your business, raise your profits, and improve your life, through the use of superior remodeling processes. If you would like to discover better ways to run your business, click here. He also provides his uniquely customized one-on-one coaching to a select group of contractors. Feel free to contact Randall at Randall@scientificremodelingsystem.com.

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