Denise O’Berry recently posted about the importance of data backups for small businesses. If you missed it, you can read it here. The applies 150% to home-based businesses. If you’re running a business from home, chances are it’s running on a single PC or laptop computer. Chances are you don’t have your own Local Area Network with a systems administrator on staff and a tape backup system in place. This makes data backups all the more important and sometimes this subject just gets placed on the permanent back burner.
No matter how good your computer is, or how good you think it is, your computer is subject to failure. There are numerous hardware problems that can occur as well as numerous software problems (such as destructive viruses and malware). The good news is that there are very simple, economical backup solutions for the home office.
External hard drives, such as the ones made by Maxtor, are a painless and inexpensive solution. For around $200, you can have a 200 gigabyte drive that is physically separate from your computer and connects via a USB cable. That’s a lot of storage! You can plug them in when you need them and unplug them when you don’t. In fact, it’s recommended that you don’t leave them plugged in and store them somewhere else in a safe place.
If you want more portability, there is a wide variety of flash drives available. Sometimes called ‘thumb drives’ (because they’re about the size of a thumb), these devices plug directly into a USB port and can be easily carried with you in your purse, pocket, pack, or briefcase. These are not capable of storing as much data as the external hard drives, but they do get into the 4 gigabyte range which is usually enough to at least back up your data.
How often should you back up? Ask yourself this question: If I lost all my data from my computer, how much would I loose? Chances are you would loose a lot of financial, business planning, marketing, customer, and order data. Even if some of it were replaceable, it would take a lot of time to recover such data. Generally if you can keep all your data under one folder structure, just copy that folder structure to your external data backup source once per day. That way, the worst case scenario is that you loose a day’s work. Whatever you do, put some sort of backup plan in place to protect your home-based business.