Google’s recently released Top Business Searches of 2010 are remarkable for what they don’t include. While searches such as ‘starting a business’ and ‘make money’ top the list and point to a growing small business sector, what is most alarming is a term that didn’t make the list – backup.
Possibly the least sexy aspect of running your own business, backup and data security are nonetheless fundamental to the operation of any enterprise. Think about it: what would happen if you lost all your files and contacts? Catastrophe, for sure – but this won’t ever happen to you, right?
Maybe not, but it’s worth considering that in 2010, 11.5% of Godmother’s clients have needed to access their backup at least once. That’s one in ten.
Massive developments in communications technology have given small business owners access to systems once only available to massive corporations with bloated I.T. departments.
Cloud computing – a term previously known only to tech heads – is already a buzzword in business communities and is set to become part of the lexicon in 2011. The ramifications are of particular consequence to small business, especially in the case of backup and data security.
From filing cabinet to hard drive
To help illustrate, let’s look at the way offices have changed over time.
Thirty years ago, accounts were kept in large, dusty ledgers; customers details filled a rollerdex; you had to walk into the bank to conduct transactions; the post was the most important communications provider; and filing cabinets were king. Without one, business would have been impossible; and its safety – the safety of your business data – was of the utmost importance.
Fast forward a few decades and things look a little different, but are basically the same. Account details and financials are kept electronically; your customer’s details are held in digital address books; banking can be done from the comfort of your office; and, email now dominates the communications landscape. The filing cabinet has been replaced with a computer, or a networked server that controls all these functions.
The security of a business’ data is still of the utmost importance. Enter the age of backup. Often this took the form of a removable hard drive that was taken from the premises at the end of each day – in case of fire, theft or something worse.
What is most chilling about this state of affairs is not the frequency with which these backup processes fail, but the lack of awareness on the part of the business owner. Be honest, when was the last time you checked your backup to make sure it’s working?
The cloud-based solution
Cloud-based services are the next step, taking backup out of the hands of individuals and moving it online. Cloud backup takes away the need to own and maintain the infrastructure once needed to perform the tasks we now take for granted. In effect, it outsources the service to backup experts.
Cloud technology takes the filing cabinet of thirty years ago and moves it to a secure remote location accessible via the internet. The catch-all filing cabinet is now a giant warehouse with more security than it ever had. Any device that can get online – for example your laptop or phone – can access all your business’ data, whether you’re in the office, on the road or at home.
Cloud services back up entire systems on secure remote servers each day. This means no more remembering to take home a portable hard drive at the end of the day. Everything is done in the cloud.
If, god forbid, there’s a system crash and a reboot is needed, or there’s a fire, or something much less catastrophic – like someone spilling a can of Coke on the computer – all the data is securely stored elsewhere, far away from the crisis (or clumsiness) and a mere internet connection away. The business’ data is in the hands of backup experts, who know how to quickly correct the situation, allowing you to continue focusing on running your business.
Bring your business into the 21st century
We’re currently in the middle of a seismic shift in the way we run not only our businesses, but our personal lives, and cloud computing sits at the heart of this. Most small business backup systems may as well come from 1930 – it’s outdoor plumbing and the milkman in the morning.
Google’s top ten lists might point to an exciting trend in the growth of small businesses, but they also highlight a need for business owners to re-examine their data security protocols.
So, how’s your backup?
Gary Fink is the founder and CEO of Godmother, a cloud-based backup service for small and medium-sized businesses.
Image by Basil Arteomovue