How to Setup Backups as a SMB or Sole Trader
A quick guide to getting a basic backup of your most important data.

Backups are by far one of the most important things to get right in a small business. Ransomware is on the rise and more cyber-attacks than ever attacking small businesses. 60% of small companies close within six months of a data loss event, so protecting your data should be your priority.

Luckily, we have some simple steps that you can take to get yourself up and running with some simple backup systems.

The 321 Principles

The 321 principle of backup is:

3 Backups is 2 Backups, 2 Backups is 1 backup, and 1 backup is no backups.

The simplest way to explain this is sod's law, exactly when you need your back up, at least one of them won't work.

The other 321 principle of backup is:

3 Backups, in 2 Different Formats, and 1 Offsite

 This means you should ideally have three different backups, using two different formats or types, and you should keep one of the three away from your principal place of work. 

For SMBs or Sole Traders, these principles may be hard to keep to, setting up three independent backup systems may be too expensive or difficult for an individual. Below, we'll discuss how to get something up and running to at least act as a stop-gap measure.

Separate your data

Blindly backing up everything is one of the worst ways to approach securing your data. Not only does this increase costs, but it also makes backups take longer and makes the process more frustrating.

The best solution to this is to keep your data organised. This also has the added benefit of making it easy to locate your data as and when you need it. SMBs should ensure work is done on company-owned or controlled devices, and not on personal devices. Micro-businesses or sole traders should try to keep their data organised separately to personal files - if possible, use a different device for work and personal use.

As a step further, be sure you know where all of your relevant data is kept - create a folder structure to organise your work in your documents folder. This allows you to prioritise protecting the most important information without wasting backup space on one-off, temporary, or system files.

Cloud Storage

It's crucial here that we make a distinction between storage and backup. If you are using Cloud storage in your day to day, using Onedrive for instance, then it is not a back-up. A backup must be separate to the storage you use on a day to day basis.

That said, Cloud storage can still help protect you from some types of data loss, so use it if available. This type of "backup" is only any good against say losing a laptop, or spilling a coffee on your computer. It's not generally designed to keep older copies of your data around, and typically won't help against ransomware attacks. Additionally, if you lose your password and get locked out of your account, you've just lost your data.

Cloud Backup

Cloud backup is different from Cloud storage, Cloud Backup utilities will often include more than just the files and folders in a specific location, and will be able to backup and restore any files you specify. Additionally, you typically get more options, configurability, and protection against ransomware. You may also be able to back up from NAS devices, or Servers directly. IT+X has several Cloud backup solutions to fit the needs of any size of business, get in touch to find out more.

For Sole Traders and Micro-Businesses

As a sole trader, your primary concern is likely cost, and not taking up your time. If you can separate your work and personal files, do so, then once a fortnight, copy your most important files to a USB hard drive and keep it somewhere safe and secure. Additionally, use OneDrive or other Cloud Storage where possible.

If you wish to improve your backups further, consider a Cloud Backup solution in addition to this.

For SMBs and Larger Businesses

You may already have a NAS drive or Server with RAID functionality, but its essential to keep in mind that RAID is not a backup! You can integrate Cloud backup solutions with your existing NAS or Server to archive your information automatically. Alternatively, if you use Cloud Storage primarily, consider using any archiving functionality, or use a third party Cloud to Cloud backup solution. If you need further details, feel free to get in touch below!

In Summary

Many SMBs and Sole Traders presently don't back up their data, whether because of inconvenience, or they aren't aware of the dangers of data loss. You should use a combination of backup strategies, to ensure that if one fails, the others will still work. For Sole-Traders and Microbusinesses, simply copying essential files to a USB drive, and using cloud Storage when available could save you from disaster. For larger businesses with existing infrastructure, adding on additional backup options is easy, and cheap insurance.

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How to Setup Backups as a SMB or Sole Trader
Joseph Morris
8 October, 2020
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