What’s the Best Data Backup for Startups?
On the path to profitability, startups face enormous pressure to grow as quickly as possible, particularly after they’ve had a large infusion of funding. But this aggressive focus on growth can also cause fledgling companies to overlook critical vulnerabilities.
Data loss is one such threat that many startups aren’t prepared for. And whether it’s the loss of a single critical spreadsheet or a widespread ransomware attack, it only takes one incident to disrupt operations and put the entire business at risk.
In this post, we look at why data backup for startups is so important and which solutions are best for these fast-growing small businesses.
Mistakes early on
As new companies work furiously to hire talent and launch their products, data backup often becomes an afterthought. This is especially true if a company does not yet have its own IT department. Typically, this situation leads to a variety of flawed thinking about backups.
- Founders may mistakenly think that backing up their data isn’t yet necessary (if they think about it at all).
- New businesses may put off data backup due to lack of cash flow and an assumption that they can’t afford it.
- Some businesses may assume they can “get by” with lightweight cloud apps, like Google Drive or Dropbox, when in fact these services are not at all designed for data protection and will not be useful after a major data-loss event.
How data loss kills startups
So, what’s the big deal? Why should startups consider backing up their data, when they could be putting their time and money into growth-acceleration instead?
Short answer: because data loss can destroy a small business.
Take ransomware, for example, which disrupted 1 in 5 small- to mid-sized businesses in 2019. A successful ransomware attack can lock down your entire computer network, effectively freezing your operations. Research shows that the resulting downtime costs small startups an average of $10,000 per hour – at the low end!
Without backups, companies have little choice but to pay the ransom, which cost businesses an average of $84,116 in the fourth quarter of 2019. Even then, there’s no guarantee that the attackers will unlock the data – which can spell doom for an already cash-strapped business.
It’s not just ransomware
Various forms of data loss happen every day at businesses around the world. And the impact tends to be greatest on the smallest companies, which have limited resources for IT or emergency disaster recovery efforts.
While ransomware gets all the headlines these days, it’s very common for businesses to lose data due to a number of other reasons:
- Accidental file deletion
- Hardware or software failure
- Overwrites from data migrations
- Buggy or misconfigured app integrations
- Malware infections
- Malicious deletion by in-house personnel
When data is lost, deleted or corrupted, it can negatively affect the business in numerous ways. Even when one file has gone missing, a time-consuming recovery can hurt productivity—and the bottom line.
More substantial data loss can throw a wrench in a small business’s operations, disrupting revenue, product-release timelines and the company’s credibility.
What’s the best data backup for startups?
Choosing a corporate data backup system should be based on the individual needs of each business. Startups should first create a business continuity plan that outlines the company’s unique risks, continuity objectives and backup strategy.
For example, a startup that depends on large volumes of critical data will naturally require a system that can perform frequent backups and deliver near-constant availability of its protected data. Smaller, less tech-centric businesses may not need as robust of a system.
But while each startup is unique, there are some fundamental capabilities that every small business should be looking for. Most importantly, organizations need to focus on solutions that go beyond mere “backup” to provide true business continuity.
Here are some things to look for.
Instant restore options
Fledgling startups can’t afford to wait hours or days to restore a backup. An extended disruption has the potential to bury a small business, especially one that’s already on shaky footing.
Thankfully, newer business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) solutions can restore backups much quicker. For example, the Datto SIRIS and ALTO backup systems allow you to instantly restore protected servers as virtual machines. This means you get back to business fast – literally in seconds after a ransomware attack or server outage.
Instant recovery provides a critical lifeline to startups that would otherwise be crushed by a catastrophic data-loss event.
Recover your startup from anywhere
Backup virtualization is even more powerful when you can do it from off-site.
In the case of destructive on-site events, such as flooding, fire and natural disasters, most companies are dead in the water if they can’t recover their data. That’s why cloud backups have become so important. While on-site backup devices will typically deliver the greatest speeds and performance, off-site backups provide an added layer of assurance for when local infrastructure is unavailable.
Hybrid cloud backups are quickly becoming the norm for today’s BC/DR systems. But beyond merely retrieving data at the file level, startups should also look for systems that enable you to virtualize the backup on-site and in the cloud. This ensures that you can maintain your most critical operations, even if you’re miles from HQ.
Newer backup solutions have made enterprise-grade BC/DR technology accessible to small startups (without the enterprise price tag).
The Datto SIRIS, for example, can go toe-to-toe with some enterprise systems, enabling a backup frequency of every 5 minutes. And yet it’s designed specifically for small- to mid-sized businesses and priced far more affordably.
High backup frequency is a must for most startups. You need to be sure that all the data your teams are creating throughout the day is being backed up around the clock. If your most recent recovery point is several hours or days old, then the potential data loss could be a costly setback for your business.
IT managers know the frustration of attempting to restore a backup, only to discover that the data is corrupted. It’s one of the most common issues with traditional incremental backups. And it gets even more dicey when you need to reconstruct a backup from a variety of sources, such as long-term tape storage.
Today’s startups can’t afford that risk. Newer technology has vastly improved the resilience of backups, ensuring that protected data can be quickly recovered without unexpected errors. A prime example is Datto’s Inverse Chain Technology, which stores each new backup in a fully constructed state. This eliminates dependence on the backup chain (where integrity problems traditionally arise) and also provides greater storage efficiency.
The end result is a far more resilient backup and the freedom to keep different recovery points locally and in the cloud.
Plenty of BC/DR providers will say their backups are resilient. But why simply take their word for it?
Look for solutions that can verify the integrity of every backup. Backup verification actually tests your backups to verify that they can be restored without problem. In the case of image-based backups, the backups are fully test-booted as virtual machines to ensure they’re viable. If anything is amiss, admins are alerted so they can take action immediately.
This process happens automatically, giving startups peace of mind that their backups will work when they need them.
Full infrastructure backup
We mentioned above that some small businesses make the mistake of using services like Google Drive for backup. There are several problems with this.
First, apps like Google Drive and OneDrive are only designed for file-sharing: there are limitations to the data you can store. Second, there is no realistic recovery option, beyond simply downloading all your files from the cloud. Third, the data you sync to the cloud is just as vulnerable to threats like accidental deletion and ransomware.
True business continuity can be achieved by deploying backup solutions that protect your entire infrastructure: servers, computers, operating systems, application data, email—everything. And when you factor in capabilities like virtualization, recovering that infrastructure should take only seconds.
Extra ransomware protection for startups
Small businesses are more vulnerable to ransomware attacks, because they have limited resources for fending off an attack, paying huge ransoms or surviving an extended outage.
Infections often slip past antimalware systems, particularly when they’re delivered after a successful phishing scam. So it pays to deploy additional layers of protection wherever possible.
Some backup systems now include built-in ransomware protection to help identify the first signs of an infection. Datto’s backup devices actively scan each backup for a ransomware footprint, alerting admins if an infection is detected. This is essential protection that allows businesses to respond to an attack even sooner, before the infection has a chance to spread.
Founders and their teams work hard to jumpstart a new venture. It would be inexcusable to allow it to collapse due to an extremely common disruption like data loss.
If you’re evaluating backup options, remember that the first crucial step is creating a business continuity plan. This will enable you to clearly define your continuity objectives, so you can identify the right BC/DR solution for your needs.
Take a closer look at today’s best data backup for startups and small- to mid-sized businesses. Request a free demo or speak to our business continuity experts at Invenio IT today. Call (646) 395-1170 or email success@invenioIT.com.