Almost all data backup solutions can be separated into two primary categories: hardware and software. Hardware is a physical piece of equipment that holds your data, and software is usually connected to a network so that your information is stored from your own system automatically. Most businesses find that a combination of the two types of backup storage options are ideal for maximum information security.

Hardware Backup Solutions

Storage hardware options are constantly changing as new technology develops. Today, some of the most popular options include flash drives, CDs and DVDs, external hard drives, and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices.

– Flash drives are small devices that usually plug into a computer’s USB port. Holding up to 64 gigabytes in some of the higher-end versions, these are a great way to move information or to keep small amounts of data secure.

– CDs and DVDs typically hold less data than flash drives, but are cheaper to use and can be stored fairly easily over the long term. Uploading information onto these disks may take longer than it does with a flash drive, but they also provide a way to keep information separate and organized.

– External hard drives can now hold over a terabyte of information, which makes them the largest hardware backup devices on the market. They are easily stored, like CDs and DVDs, but are much more comprehensive in terms of organizing your information (you can keep your data much like it is on your own computers in a ghost image). They also tend to be easy to use and update.

– NAS devices are much like external hard drives, but with more bells and whistles. They work by attaching to a company’s network and accessing all of the network’s computers at once. In this way, several users can back up their information simultaneously and without hooking up the external hard drive to each individual computer. NAS devices also allow users to access their information online, so the data can be accessed without physically tapping into the device.

Software Backup Solutions

There are number of different types of backup software currently on the market. Most software works by automating the backup process so that you don’t have to physically store your information at the end of each workday or workweek.

Some things to look for when choosing backup software include:

– The ability to detect changes in a document and automatically upload that new file to the system, overriding the old one.

– Regularly updating backup storage at the end of each day or over the weekend, as you prefer.

– Online backup options, which will allow you to keep your information stored online on a secure server that is not connected to your own (this has the added bonus of being accessible from a remote location).

– The ability to perform a ghost image backup, copying your hard drive so that you can upload an identical copy to another computer without additional work or time.

Backup Your Data Regularly

No matter which backup solution you choose, make sure you update your information regularly. Schedule in a regular maintenance schedule, or have your IT consultant do it for you. Although you may never encounter the disaster that makes backup data necessary, it never hurts to be safe.

Daniel Gottilla senior consultant at Guidance Consulting, Inc. has been delivering profitable technology results to everything from small, private firms to Fortune 500 companies.
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