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Monday, February 14, 2011

Backup Options For Small Businesses

tips and trick backup
More data, more media files, more computers, and more regulations mean that many small businesses face more complexity when it comes to backup and disaster recovery solutions. Taking a step back to periodically examine your current setup, the needs of your business, and the options available is a good way to invest in your company.

To compare current backup options for smaller businesses, we explored some of the features, pros, and cons of external drives, NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices, and online services.

External Drives
An external hard drive connects directly to your computer to provide additional storage and backup functions. It usually comes bundled with backup software that is easy to configure and manage. Storage capacity ranges from 250GB to 2TB, and most external drives use a USB 2.0 connection. Higherend external drives offer an eSATA port for faster transfer if your computer supports it. USB 3.0 connectivity, which is 10 times faster than USB 2.0, is beginning to appear in external hard drives, PCs, and notebooks.

Common features of external hard drives include: a USB 2.0 connection, backup software, portability, per file or folder backup, and incremental or full backup. Among the advanced features you will find on external drives is a second drive for redundant copy of data, encrypted data for security, password protection or another authentication method for security, USB 3.0 or eSATA connection for faster data transfer, and continuous backup of specific files and/or folders.

The most obvious advantages to external drives are their cost and ease of use. Disadvantages of this type of drive include limited storage options and lower data capacity. “An explosion of digital data is occurring today, and at some point you will fill up an external HDD, and before long you have multiple HDDs full of data,” says Chris Romoser, senior director, worldwide communications and public relations at Iomega. “Then the questions begin: Where is the data you’re looking for? Which one of the drives is the data on?”

External drives are ideal for single machines or data files. They are easy to connect and set up, their USB drives do not require additional power, and their price is affordable. On the downside, though, you can’t back up computers over the network, nor can you access data remotely. You also won’t be able to support multiple backups on different drives, and any offsite storage will require multiple drives and transfers or integration with an online backup solution.

NAS (Network Attached Storage)
A NAS is a device that connects directly to the router on your network via an Ethernet port. (If you are using a wireless router, a NAS supports wired and wireless devices, even though it connects to the router with an Ethernet cable.) A NAS can support two to 12 drives with 1TB to as much as 24TB of storage.

Common features include Gigabit Ethernet connection to network router, incremental or full backup, continuous backup of specific files and/or folders, and support for USB external drives and/or NAS enclosure with disk drives. NAS devices also support file sharing, multiple OSes, and encrypted data and password protection for security. They also include additional drives for RAID and feature a Web-based management interface. Among the advanced features of a NAS are its dual gigabit Ethernet connections for faster transfer and redundancy if one port fails. Hotswappable drive bays let you add or change drives without shutting down.

The NAS also have physical security for removable drives. Additional advanced features include data deduplication to eliminate redundant copies of files and save storage space, remote access to files via the Internet, print server support for sharing network printers, virtual server support, and UPS (uninterruptable power supply) support in case of power failure, as well as reporting and alerts.

Primarily intended to provide additional storage, a NAS can serve multiple purposes in a small business or home office environment. For storage, a NAS consolidates file storage for computers on a network to a single location. You can then back up, restore, and share files more easily. Depending on the device design, the NAS can act as a media server that integrates with media applications, and it can provide print server capabilities to share printers on the network. Disadvantages include cost and complexity. “NAS units are an added expense,” says Romoser. “However, the price delta between 3.5-inch HDDs and single-drive NAS units is decreasing steadily.”

The pros and cons of a NAS vary. Among the pros are the device’s ability to handle large amounts of data and its one-time cost, with a variety of price points based on features. A NAS is expandable, it is always on, and it supports networks, multiple machines, and multiple devices. Among the cons are its price, which is often higher than external drives, and it is more complex to configure and manage software, hardware, and security. You will need multiple drives/devices, as well, if you are considering using offsite storage. NAS is not portable and require a network. Offsite storage may require you to use offsite drives or devices or integration with an online backup solution.

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