What would happen to your business if your computer were to crash? What if it was destroyed in an accident or natural disaster? it's a valuable source of communications and information, so Right NOW you need to figure out how to back it up.
Disasters happen and can take many forms. There are natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes and then there are the computer generated disasters such as hard drive failures which can destroy your data and your business records as well.
When it comes to backing up your information, I'm a HUGE fan of what is known as "redundant backups". That means, I use more than one method of protecting and backing up my data.
Backing up your data can mean simply burning a CD or DVD with a copy of essential files. Backing essential files up can also be done with a flash or jump drive. Do this in addition to whatever else you choose and you can point with pride to your "redundant" backup system.
Backing up Data vs. Backing up a Computer
Before setting up your backup plan, ask yourself if you need to back up data or if you need to back up your computer. There's a big difference between those two. Most online automatic backup storage services will only back up the hard data on your computer. Data doesn't include the software used to create the file but only covers the file itself.
So, if you created a dozen documents in Microsoft Word, then most automatic online backups would "back up" those 12 documents. However, these online backup services will NOT backup your software. If disaster strikes, you'll need to install Word once again to be able to open those 12 files, and you may need to buy the newest version. If the old files aren't compatible with the new version (this has happened to me several times), you will have problems reading them.
If you only have one or two software programs or applications installed on your computer, then an automatic online backup system may be all you need.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Email files are not included as data and are usually not part of backup data files!
Backing Up your Entire Computer - "Ghost Systems"
If you need more than just your data backed up, then you need to begin looking at other backup options.
One surprisingly affordable solution is to purchase an external hard drive and combine that with a backup recovery system, sometimes called a "ghost" system. Using this 1-2 combination provides you with an easy and effective way of "restoring" your computer should disaster strike.
There are several alternatives for this complete system backup, depending on your computer type. If you have an Apple system, you can use their Time Machine system or use Windows Backup if you have a PC.
Another way to back up your computer is over the internet. Recovery systems like Symantec or Backblaze will automatically backup your system to the cloud and then you can recover it easily (assuming your internet connection works.)
Another Word about Redundancy
Now for a word about redundancy... again! Let's say tomorrow when you come into your office, you hit the button to turn on your computer and you're greeted with what is known as the "blue screen of death". If that happens, you'll be VERY happy that your external drive is sitting right next to your CPU with all your data backed up on it.
The best way to keep your computer and its files safe is to have two backups. 1. A hard drive backup of everything and 2. A cloud backup of all your data files.
However, if you enter your office tomorrow and find your desk underwater... you will be wishing your external hard drive wasn't floating right next to your computer's CPU. At that point in time, you will realize that DVDs you made as redundant backups which are floating nearby may or may not be salvageable. At a time like that, you'll wish your data was safe and sound off-site as the result of an automatic online backup.
So when it comes to backing up your data, pick more than one way to preserve your data. Do some exploring to find (1) an external hard drive, which you can keep offsite, and (2) an online application as a "ghost" computer.
More about Backing Up Business Data