Data provides intelligence. It doesn't equal intelligence, but through the proper application of analysis, data can be turned into intelligence. Your business has data - whether you use that data now or not to create business intelligence, that data (assuming it is of reasonable quality) is quite valuable.
Data such as:
is crucial to your business. Even if you haven't implemented proper methods for turning that data into business intelligence, you can't afford to let your data go away.
If you're letting the life of your data ride on the functioning of a mechanical hard drive, you are making a big mistake. Big businesses understand the importance of data and invest time and energy in order to preserve it - it's time small and medium sized businesses and managers did the same. It's time that small and medium-sized business owners and managers took a few easy and important steps to add quite a bit of resilience to their business.
The first part of creating a robust data resilience strategy is local storage - you have to have a local backup of your data. For most small businesses, data usually resides on one or a handful of computers. For medium sized businesses, data can reside on multiple computers and mobile devices. Wherever your data resides, you must have a robust local storage system set up to back up your data - although this will take a bit more time and effort for medium sized businesses.
For small businesses, there are two options here:
Either one of the above methods would work and should be looked at in light of:
Now, for medium sized businesses, things can get a bit more tricky. If a medium sized business doesn't thave many computers, they can approach it from the same way we outlined above. If, however, a medium sized business had data stored on multiple computers or mobile devices, a more thought-out strategy will save money and decrease headaches over the long-term. Hiring a consultant to assist with setting up a high-quality backup system might be a good investment here.
Whatever local storage method you choose, it is key to make sure that the physical storage is safe and secure both physically and electronically:
In addition to local backup, cloud backup is key - local storage is exposed to various operational risks such as flooding, fire, theft, misplacement, mechanical failure (for typical spinning hard disks), or electronic failure (for solid state devices). To guard against the risk fo loss of locally stored data, a cloud backup system can be used.
There are many solutions tailored to both small and medium-sized businesses - we won't' go into them here but it's important to focus on a business solution and not on consumer-level solutions here. Additionally, free solutions should likely be avoided - "if you're not the customer, you're the product" is a relevant saying here that should deter you from storing valuable data in a free cloud storage solution where the provider fo the storage has little or no obligation to you or your business.
As with the local storage, you can choose whether you want a continuous backup of the entire system of ad-hoc backups of only relevant files and folders. Again, this depends on the same factors discussed above.
When choosing a provider of cloud storage, a few key things to look at are:
Supplementary Computing Systems
In additional to having your data backed up, you'll want to invest in a supplementary system to both access the data and operate your normal business software (be it MS Excel, MS Word, just accessing the internet, using some sort of CRM software, or using propriety software for your business) - an operational risk even might affect your computers and you'll want to be able to get up and running quickly again.
You'll need to access the level of your and your business's reliance on computing and software in order to determine how much to invest in supplementary computing. A business that jus needs access to the internet and email might be fine with a simple additional laptop or no supplementary system at all. A business that relies on persistent CRM software and propriety software to run the business might need to invest in maintaining a secondary computing system with up to date software and an ability to connect to a network quickly (eg. a wireless chip that can get online without needing a physical connection).
Additionally, supplementary batteries might be useful here depending on the business's reliance on mobile battery operated devices and the risk that a power outage poses.