Staples turns backup into a service

Office-supply company Staples wants small and medium-size businesses that buy paper and scissors at its stores to start going there for their own data, too.

On Wednesday, the company introduced Staples Network Services by Thrive, a set of offerings for U.S.-based SMBs with about 10 to 250 employees. The lineup includes services such as anti-spam and patch management that Staples acquired when it bought Massachusetts-based SMB services specialist Thrive in 2006, but also Thrive Online Backup, a newly introduced backup and recovery product.

Businesses can sign up for Thrive Online Backup over the Internet, download an agent to their machines via a Web site, and then have all their data backed up automatically while they work. The process works continuously in the background, and to take up less network bandwidth, it only backs up new or changed data, according to Staples. The data is encrypted and goes over the Internet to a data center run by Staples partner EMC, said Jim Lippie, president of Staples Network Services by Thrive.

In the event of a natural disaster, hard drive crash, accidental deletion, theft or vandalism, customers can retrieve their data any time, from any computer with a browser and an Internet connection, according to Staples. The service is available immediately for PCs and is coming next month for Macs, Lippie said. For SMBs with servers, Staples already offers an online backup service, he added.

Thrive Online Backup costs US$10 for every 10G bytes backed up from an individual computer. If a customer's data is lost because of a problem with the service, Staples will refund the cost of the service but not the value of the data, Lippie said. Staples is offering a free 60-day trial of Thrive Online Backup.

Also included in Staples Network Services by Thrive are Thrive Protect for remote security functions and Thrive Onsite for regular services performed on location. Thrive Protect includes anti-spam, anti-virus, anti-spyware, patch management, systems and network monitoring, and remote help desk support. Thrive Onsite provides SMBs a dedicated team of IT engineers to do work that can't be done remotely. It is available immediately in the Boston and Atlanta metropolitan areas and will later be rolled out in other markets, Staples said.

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