Off-Site Backup Solutions for Your SMB

Paul Mah

Even as Hurricane Isaac got downgraded to a tropical storm earlier today, the floods and disruptions are a somber reminder of the unexpected challenges that SMBs face. Fire and floods, for example, can not only destroy valuable infrastructure, but also result in the loss of crucial billing records or irrecoverable research data.

Like the rest of IT though, backup solutions are in a constant state of evolution. This can be confusing to smaller businesses looking for robust solutions to protect their precious data from localized disasters — be it man-made or natural. To help make sense of it, I’ve listed some off-site backup solutions that are suitable for both SMBs and SOHOs (Small Office Home Offices).

NAS with Replication

Traditional NAS (network-attached storage) worked as independent appliances to store or back up data. Depending on configuration, they offer significantly better protection of data than leaving them on individual laptops or desktops. Increasingly though, NAS now comes with the ability to replicate or even synchronize data with each other. This gives SMBs access to technologies found only in high-end enterprise equipment in the past.

Storage specialist Synology, for example, has a Cloud Station feature in its DSM 4.0 operating system that allows the company’s NAS to synchronize data with one another. Using it allows a small and mid-sized business to automatically store copies of the same data in different locations at a price point that smaller businesses can afford.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage has gained a tremendous amount of mind-share in the past couple of years. Today, a large number of such services have sprung up to let consumers and businesses store data in the cloud. And having tried some of them myself, I can only say that some of them are really good.

Of course, the multi-tenancy premise of cloud deployments means that data stored in the cloud could potentially become ensnared in external disputes, as evidenced from the lesson behind Megaupload’s demise. It certainly makes sense to encrypt your SMB’s cloud backup instead of relying on your cloud vendor.

On this front, it may interest you that Amazon Glacier was recently launched as an extremely low-cost storage solution for “durable storage” for data archiving and backup. With an average annual durability of 99.999999999 percent for an archive, I think it is worth looking into.


Tape Storage

Despite various predictions of the death of tape storage, the hardy medium has continued to persist in the enterprise and in the SMB. Known for its portability, affordability and ruggedness, the advantages of tape are still as valid today as they were a decade ago. For sure, tape definitely has the upper hand in terms of proven longevity — offering durability of up to 30 years.

If anything, the technology is well understood by IT professionals and service providers, and offers a convenient and affordable last line of defense for data backup in SMBs. Still not convinced? You may want to read a post I wrote on this topic last year titled, “Is Tape Still Relevant for SMBs?”

As backup technologies continue to evolve and additional solutions become tenable, I’ll be sure to update them on SMB Tech again. Stay tuned.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Sep 19, 2012 12:27 PM Chris Halcon Chris Halcon  says:
Great points, Paul. I work for Symantec and what we tell our small business customers is that the choice between backup solutions is really based on what they need to recover and how quickly. If they only need to recover files and local applications, cloud-based backup solutions are a great option. However, if they also need to recover systems, large volumes of data, then backup software or appliances are better options. Additionally, small businesses need to consider whether they need capabilities such as deduplication and virtualization. Lastly, they may want to consider a hybrid approach where they protect their main office location with on-premise backup or appliance software, and use online backup as an affordable approach to desktop and laptop protection in remote offices or for remote workers. One of my colleagues mapped out considerations for backup software, appliances and cloud that your readers may find useful: http://bit.ly/PSAfgM. Chris Halcon Symantec Reply
Apr 28, 2013 7:23 PM Dave Dave  says:
I didn't know that tape has a durability of up to 30 years. That's surprising. If tapes were not bulky, I would probably use them. Reply

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