Ensuring a small business is adequately protected, in terms of having all of its important data backed-up and secured, is of vital importance in this technological age!
Whilst it could be argued that all important data should be backed-up, this process can be especially important given that many smaller businesses might not be able to continue operating after a catastrophic data loss or cyber attack!
Whilst plenty of commercial backup software does exist today, much of it is aimed at larger corporations and with this it can be expensive to purchase and complicated to configure. Many larger companies have access to dedicated IT personnel to assist in operating such software, something many smaller businesses simply don’t have the resources for!
So, with all of the above in mind, in this guide I will be not only looking at the best backup software more suited towards smaller businesses, but also discussing some best backup practices to follow and some pitfalls to steer clear off!
Knowing What to Backup in your Small Business
The first and most important thing when starting to get your small business backed-up is to understand what needs to be backed-up and where it should be backed-up from. Even small businesses today make extensive use of multiple computers and with this multiple different software packages and systems, all of which require data to be stored and in-turn, backed-up!
One of the biggest issues many smaller businesses will face is that, unlike larger businesses which often make use of centralised file storage systems, this data which is to be backed up could be spread across multiple different PCs, external hard drives, USB flash drives and so on. In-fact, if you have several employees you could find yourself in a situation whereby each employee has there own set of files stored on their own respective PC, this means if a certain PC was to suffer hardware failure or a cyber attack then this could result in data loss for the business.
Remote employees also bring a new challenge to the backup problem in that they are not physically present in the office nor might there PC or any external hard drives be easily reachable with any centralised attempt to backup company data.
As such, in the next section, I am going to look at two mainstream approaches for fixing this issue, both of which are suitable for many smaller businesses.
Common Approaches to Small Business Backup
Now we are aware that having data in multiple different locations is one of the biggest challenges many small businesses face, we can look at a couple of common methods to solving this issue and ensuring data is always adequately backed-up.
Centralising File Storage
One of the best ways to store and handle company documents, if you are not already taking advantage of this, is to make use of a centralised file server (something such as a NAS device which is connected to the same network as your company devices).
If you have ever worked for a larger company you will no doubt be used to working with “shared folders”, these are similar to regular folders but instead of being stored on a local PC they are stored on a centralised device and can help simplify, amongst other things, the backing up off all company data. In cases where these centralised devices are used then only the centralised device itself must be backed up to the cloud to ensure all data and files from across the business are secured!
A NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive from a specialist provider such as QNAP or Synology could be a great way to implement such a centralised solution, best of all, both of these manufacturers (as do some other NAS manufacturers) support the backing-up of the NAS device itself to a 3rd party cloud storage provider such as AWS S3 or Backblaze B2 straight out of the box!
Backing up Multiple PCs Collectively
Another solution to this problem is to make use of backup software which is specially suited for small business needs, this often means not only backing up the actual data itself but also centralising the backup process to ensure it works as it should do and that all PCs in the business are backed up.
While you could simply install multiple copies of stand alone backup software across multiple PCs in a business, you would loose this ability to monitor all of the backups centrally and with this the security of knowing that all data has been backed up (some employees might, for example, forget to run their backup or turn off their PC too early when a backup set hasn’t finished etc.).
Things to be Aware of with Small Business Backup
When planning your small business backup strategy there are a number things which you need to be aware of, these are things which will help to prevent any problems further down the line.
One of the first and most important things after you have your chosen backup plan in place is to check that you can actually restore some files (ideally form a remote location if using cloud backup to prove that everything is working as it should be). This is actually something you should plan on doing regularly to ensure the continued correct working of you backup solution and can help in preventing possible cases of data loss into the future.
Simply having a backup in place which is not regularly tested for restores is risky, there are a lot of things which could go wrong with a backup and would not be picked up otherwise, for example, correctly remembering the encryption key used for restoring the data and ensuring the cloud storage subscription (billing) is regularly taken care of!
Key / Password Holding
Another important consideration to think about is securing any backed up data!
Using encryption is the most obvious way of doing this, however, imagine you are (for whatever reason) not available when some lost data is needing to be recovered by a colleague? In such cases you might want to think about leaving a copy of the encryption key with a trusted person either inside or outside of the business should it ever be needed when you yourself are not available!
This method does come with its obvious risks, of course, but also has the advantage of allowing the business to continue if, for example, you were to lose your own copy of the backup encryption key by potentially making use of this second trusted copy.
Cost and Usability
Whilst ensuring your data is backed up correctly and can be accessed in a data related emergency is very important, it is also important to think about the cost of any given backup solution as this can have a big impact on many smaller businesses.
Whilst a system relying on a central NAS device might be costly to install and set-up initially, the ongoing costs will be relatively low and in many cases limited to just the costs of a 3rd party cloud storage provider used to keep the device itself backed up (this is very much recommended).
A software based solution in many cases will have little initial set-up costs to bear given no additional hardware will be needed, although the ongoing subscription costs will almost certainly be higher than the centralised NAS alternative over time.
The best route to take regarding costings will, of course, depend upon your own business finances and what you feel the best solution for your own business actually is. Using a software based approach might be more expensive over the long run (compared to using a centralised NAS device), but with this might come additional functionality and security features which could help to offset the cost!
Our Top 5 Small Business Backup Software Choices
Finally, in this section of this guide I will be mentioning some software solutions specifically designed for use by smaller businesses. Be sure to check the requirements for each solution carefully before purchasing on the manufacturers own website and, if possible, always try to take advantage of any free trials to make sure the solution works for you and your business before signing-up!
1. Acronis Cyber Protect
Cyber Protect from backup industry leaders, Acronis, is one of the leading business focused cloud backup solutions available as of today.
Combining cloud based backup for multiple endpoint devices alongside a built-in cyber security solution (including anti-virus, patch management and URL filtering) helps make this particular solution much more than just a simple backup application.
Other key features include the ability make both file-level and image level backups of devices, make use of universal restore (for restoring to different hardware), easily monitor and manage any company devices and even remotely wipe company devices when applicable.Acronis offer a 30 day free trial of Cyber Protect, click here to find out more!
2. Backblaze Business Backup
Backblaze has become one of the leading cloud backup companies in recent times, mainly thanks to its excellent backup software which makes backing up a PC or Mac quick, simple and cost effective (check out our review of the Backblaze backup software by clicking here).
Complimenting this excellent personal offering is another, business focused, version of this same software. This business backup software not only makes the backup itself straightforward but also the managing of this backup process across multiple devices from within a central admin console.
With this business admin console aside, the usual traits that come with Backblaze backup software including unlimited storage per device, automated (continuous) backups, single sign-on (G-Suite or Microsoft 365) and a low cost of just $6 / month per device all help to make Backblaze Business Backup a great choice!
Get a free 15 day trial of Backblaze for Business by clicking here.
3. Crashplan for Small Business
Crashplan is another favourite here at bestbackupreviews.com thanks to the inclusion of unlimited cloud storage per device, unlimited historic versioning of files, a central management console for managing devices centrally and the amazingly low price of just $9.99 per device / month!
In-fact, since discontinuing their “home” solution a few years ago, Crashplan has become a wholly business focused backup provider which aims to simplify backup for smaller businesses. Of course, you can still use this as an individual with a single device if your want to, but by including many of the business orientated features as a default part of the solution itself, Crashplan naturally becomes an ideal choice for smaller businesses with multiple devices to manage and keep backed-up!
You can take advantage of a 30 day free trial of Crashplan Small Business by clicking here.
4. Carbonite Business Backup
Carbonite has for a long time been a well known, safe and reliable cloud backup provider, something which applies to individual customers as well as small businesses via their special business focused backup plans!
Available is either a basic plan which focuses on the basics of backing up company devices from a centrally managed admin console or an advanced plan which brings into the mix more advanced features such as remote device wiping, AES 256-bit encryption and global asset location tracking amongst other things.
Prices start from just $24 per device / month and a Carbonite Free Trial is available should you want to take this for a test drive before making a final decision.
5. iDrive Small Business Backup
iDrive are another leading cloud backup provider with both a personal backup offering alongside one specifically designed and suited to that of a small business.
Featuring remote device management via a web console, a lightweight backup client, single sign-on functionality, strong 256-bit encryption and 24/7 technical support amongst many other business related features, iDrive is potentially a great choice for any small business.
Better still, iDrive for small business is priced upon the amount of storage used rather than the number of computers included on the account, this means if you have a lot of devices but a relatively small cloud storage requirement then this solution could work out very cost effective for many small business users!
iDrive Business starts at just $99.5 / year for unlimited users and devices sharing a 250GB cloud storage pool, bigger plans are available and more pricing information can be found at the iDrive Small Business website.