At eSilo we take data protection and disaster preparedness seriously. Every one of our customers relies on us for that very moment. We have seen companies lose years of hard work overnight. Failing to have the right road map in case of an emergency is simply a disaster waiting to happen. And this is why you should invest in offline data backup.

A while back, I was asked by for some tips, products, and solutions for small and mid-sized businesses to backup computers and data. Given that eSilo is based in South Florida–hurricane central–we have a lot of experience helping clients prepare for extended outages.  Now with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more relevant to plan for extended disruption scenarios.  Physical access to your systems may be greatly reduced if you’re out of the office.  And network access may be limited or unreliable as more and more people work from home.

The best data backup solution for a given situation depends on several factors.  Choose carefully based on the volume and type of data to be stored, and how often data needs to be accessed.

Below are three of the most common use cases we see.

Offline backup with long-term data archival

Archive solutions are best for long term data retention.  When archiving data for compliance purposes or financial records retention, you don’t expect to need to read or write new data often.  In this scenario, DVDs and Blu-rays are a simple and inexpensive way to backup critical files.

A company called M-DISC makes Blu-rays suitable for archiving 5 to 100GB of data per disc, with a claimed life of 1,000 years.  The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division performed extensive field testing of these discs and found no degradation at all.

For this to work however, you need to maintain a DVD or Blu-ray disc reader/writer.  You also need to preserve a version of your computer’s operating system and software compatible with the version of files you backed up. Otherwise, you may have a perfectly preserved file but no hardware or software able to read it.

Rugged, portable solid-state hard drives

If you need to retrieve files and write new data to your backup on a regular basis without a fast internet connection, an external SSD hard drive is your best option for offline backup.  External hard drives are small, light, and easy to stow in a go-bag.

Drive sizes range from 250GB to 14TB and above, and price points are generally under $300, making them affordable for most small businesses.  Choose models with a USB 3.0+ or USB-C connector to ensure fast data transfer speeds.

The beauty of this solution is that you don’t need an external battery or power source for the drive; they are powered by your computer’s USB port.  The downside is that if you lose or damage the external hard drive, your only backup copy is now gone.

Portable offline backup appliances

Portable offline backup appliances resemble a desktop computer tower.  They are best suited for data-intensive businesses with more demanding performance needs. They are ideally suited for multi-machine offices and can be configured as a central backup repository for all of them.  Purpose-built offline backup appliances usually come with specialized backup automation software.  Backup software can copy data to the appliance and also sync it to a cloud provider for added redundancy.

In the event of a disaster, the cloud copy can be recovered from anywhere with a stable internet connection.  For added mobility, the appliance can be unplugged and transported to a disaster recovery location.  So long as there is power, you can perform ongoing data backups and direct data restores from the appliance.

It’s always recommended to attach appliances to an uninterruptible power source (UPS) battery backup to mitigate momentary power disruptions.

The price for offline backup appliances does vary widely, but smaller units can start at around $300/month.  This will typically cover use of the appliance, software, 24/7 support including patches, upgrades, and warranty, as well as cloud storage.

In Summary

One of the most critical things you should do to prepare for an emergency is to properly back up your systems and data. At eSilo, our mission is to make enterprise grade data protection solutions easy and affordable for small and midsize businesses to deploy. Contact us today for a free IT checkup and to get tips to ensure you are prepared for whatever disaster may come your way.

Photo by Prateek Katyal from Pexels

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