Modern businesses generate more data than ever before to such an extent that their digital assets are often even more valuable than their physical ones. With IT being critical to many modern business operations, it is imperative that your company has a solid data storage and backup strategy in place to safeguard you in the event of a disaster. Nonetheless, many small companies are behind when it comes to their backup and storage routines, perhaps due to the confusing multitude of different options available. After all, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that suits businesses across the board, so you'll need to weigh up the pros and cons of each option and how they concern your particular business.
1. Direct-Attached Storage
A DAS device is connected directly to the computer using it rather than to a server or another system that all computers on the network connect through. Although internal hard drives and optical drives also come under this category, DAS typically concerns external drives insofar as data backups are concerned. Most DAS backup devices, including pen drives and external hard disks, connect to a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 port.
While a DAS device provides the highest speeds for working with large amounts of data, it is not particularly convenient for backing up data stored on multiple workstations, since it needs to be physically moved between each one. On the other hand, DAS tends to be cheaper and simpler to install, since all you need is a single external hard drive, and ones with capacities of 6 TB are now widely available.
2. Network-Attached Storage
Because DAS is not shareable or scalable, most companies now rely on NAS for their internal data storage requirements. A NAS connects directly to the company network itself rather than an individual server or workstation, and this makes the data stored on it accessible to all devices connected to the network. Ultimately, a NAS is a standalone computer acting as a file server.
NAS is more expensive, but it is scalable in nature. You can even repurpose an old computer as a dedicated NAS file server. You can install additional hard drives to the system as and when you need them. Additionally, NAS systems also provide excellent data redundancy support by way of RAID configurations that mirror data across multiple drives to help safeguard against hardware failures.
3. Disaster-Protected Storage
Preparing for disaster is just something that any responsible business owner should do, but this also means taking every necessary step to keep your digital data safe. Aside from the myriad of online security threats, the possibility of physical damage to your hardware is also something that you shouldn't forget about. Water and fire can quickly render normal digital storage systems useless in seconds.
Disaster-protected storage, which either comes in the form of a DAS or NAS system, provides a safe place for your business's most critical data. Unless you're relying solely on cloud-based storage solutions for keeping your business's digital assets safe, it might be worth investing in ultra-tough storage devices. ioSafe's ruggedized systems, for example, are both fireproof and waterproof.
4. Cloud Storage
Cloud computing has become the buzzword of the modern digital world, but its greatly increasing popularity isn't just hype. Offering an affordable, flexible and fully scalable solution, cloud-based storage and backup systems allow you to pay only for the storage space you need, and everything is provided online. As such, you can access your online storage from anywhere where you have an Internet connection.
Cloud-based storage allows you to store your data online rather than locally, thus reducing electricity and maintenance costs as well as the amount of physical space required by the hardware. On the other hand, increased bandwidth requirements, particularly when dealing with multiple terabytes of data, can render cloud storage unsuitable for certain businesses.
5. Offline Media
External offline media includes disks and tape drives, now thought by many to be largely obsolete. Businesses used to rely on magnetic media, such as ZIP and JAZZ drives but, while these have long been obsolete, many businesses do still use optical disks for backing up important data. Although they might seem outdated, DVD and Blu-ray disks can still be very useful for keeping backups safe and easily accessible.
Unfortunately, optical disks are not suitable for regular write cycles, since they can generally only be written to once. They're better suited to occasional backups of large amounts of data, since they're so cost-effective. Blu-ray discs are also available in capacities of 128 GB, and the tougher ones can last up to 50 years. Facebook, for example, is even in the process of developing a 10,000-disk backup system for itself.
Few businesses will want to stick to a single backup solution, and you will likely find a combination of two or more of the above to be optimal. For long-term backup and storage of very large amounts of data, offline media is often still the best bet, while NAS and cloud-based storage presents excellent flexibility and accessibility for everyday use. Even DAS has a place for those times when the local network is down or online backup is unavailable.