Whether you buy a backup product from a big retailer or one customized by a reseller that tailors tech support to your business, ongoing troubleshooting should be included in addition to help with setup.
Purely cloud-based storage often appeals to small businesses with very limited IT support. This kind of backup arrangement can be easier to get off the ground than a backup system involving new hardware, as it requires only uploading data from your local machines directly to faraway servers that the service provider hosts. However, moving data across an Internet connection can be slow.
You can find hundreds of Web-based backup services, so shop wisely before turning over your data to a third party. When choosing any backup provider, look for signs that it will be around for years to come, and ask what would happen if the company were to go out of business. What level of service can it guarantee? Does the provider promise a specific data-recovery time, or pledge that your data will be available whenever you demand it? If you don't use the service for a certain period of time, could the company cancel your service?
Harder to determine is knowing where your data lives. Is it lumped in with records from the provider's other customers? How does the cloud service ensure privacy? Don't leave data strictly in their hands, either; again, back it up on hardware in multiple locations.
And before you change your backup strategy, step back and create a backup plan. Start with understanding how much data you currently need to access: How many applications, databases, virtual machines, e-mail records, and files are you dealing with?
And rather than throwing out your old backup system, consider stashing it as an archive of the dusty records you rarely access anymore.
Case Study: Better Backup Pipeline Fits a Plumbing Company
Blue Sky Plumbing needed a better backup system. The company in suburban Denver had been saving critical data to various USB drives, which was a step up from a slower, less-reliable tape-based system. But like many other small businesses, Blue Sky found this setup less than ideal.