Backing up data is very important, especially for small businesses, or for pertinent information. Depending on the importance of the files, the size of the threat and of the need for security, different steps need to be taken, to ensure that the data is not compromised by hackers or competitors. Many companies in the past who had data compromised suffered financially and had a very long recovery; in addition, they had public relations nightmares. Now if you are a person backing up photos of your vacations or mp3s, the same care does not need to be taken as sensitive customer information like bank details, passwords etc.
Back up your data often, weekly, or even daily if needed. This ensures you get the most fresh data back, if catastrophe were to strike. There are plenty of programs that will do this for you. It is a good idea to set the data backup at night, or when there is no other activity in the office. This can help avoid slowdowns on the network, or on the flow of data if it is a shared hard drive. Daily backups are essential for any serious company.
Automate the process, as said before, many programs will allow you to automate the backup process. Even allowing you to set the time of day, or time of week. This takes the guesswork out, and allows IT staff to concentrate on other things. It is important to make sure the backups are going through as they were set up to do.
It is of course a good idea to have dual hard drives when backing up. That way, if one of the hard drives fail, you have the backup to go to. Not only that, but, ideally you would backup off site as well. Either to another office location or server, or using an online service. Though be careful with an online service, go with an established one with adequate security. Offsite replication is key, in case of fire or other disasters.
Occasionally, go into the backup hard drive, and recover the data. See how easy it is to recover it. If the IT professional were on vacation, could the office figure out what to do. This is often overlooked as most people never actually have to access their backed up data.
It is wise to encrypt your data, whether it is stored on a local hard drive or on the internet. Basic encryption will thwart most hackers, and it will reduce liability and PR problems if the data is compromised.
As said before, multiple places to store the data are important. Backing up data online is key. Find a well established online service that has good security and does not have a history of security breaches. This will truly ensure data is never lost, in case of a catastrophic situation.
Have multiple people know how to access the backup, and how to initiate. Often the IT department is busy with other projects, it is important to cross-train a few people on how to access the data should a problem occur. It should not be difficult even for someone who is not trained in IT.
Data backups are not only important, they are necessary for any size company. Whether it be customer information, financial documents, or even employee information. If common sense rules are used there should never be a problem. Remember to no go cheap or lazy on this though, as one data breach could bring down a company that is not prepared.