Small businesses often think that an extensive data storage solution is not needed given its size. But data can come in a variety of forms – customer information, e-mails, presentations, spreadsheets, contracts, employee information, and more. All businesses use these types of data in their day to day operation so it is imperative that small business owners invest in a storage solution to safeguard this information.
Sound IT practices coupled with smart storage solutions are critical to any business’ success, whether small, medium or large, especially for companies that are looking to scale.
Knowing Your Storage Requirements
How do you determine what the best storage solution is? Before you know the different methods for data storage available to small businesses, it is important to understand how to make the right choice. With so many options, choosing the best solution can be overwhelming.
The first aspect you must evaluate should always be the level of demand for data storage within your business. Data storage suppliers, Data Center Planet, advise assessing your needs by asking the following questions:
- How much data do you process on a monthly basis?
- What type of data will you be storing?
- Do you need (or have) a backup for this data?
- How fast do you need to be able to access this data in the future?
- How are you going to process this data?
- What type of security and privacy compliance should be in place?
Use the information you have gathered to get a good grasp on your data storage requirements. This will give you a clearer idea of which storage solutions can match your needs.
The next step you must determine is whether or not you choose an on-site storage solution or hosted data storage. Again, the choice will be dictated by your current data needs and the potential for expansion in the future.
Types of Data Storage Methods
Once you know how to choose the best data storage solution for your small business, it is now time to learn more about the methods available. Each of these methods has its own sets of benefits and drawbacks so take these into account when making your choice.
1.Direct attached storage – This type of storage solution for small businesses refers to the use of storage devices such as flash memory thumb drives like USB. This device must be connected to a PC or server in order to access, copy, or share files contained in them. They are practical storage solutions since they are handy and enable you to access the data as long as you have a computer with a compatible port. Their weakness includes limited storage capacity and the inability to make updates to the file versions that are stored.
2.Network-attached storage – This is a more advanced data storage method from the one above and is ideal for small businesses that want flexibility in handling their data. As the name implies, this type of storage must be connected directly to a network. It has the ability to handle multiple storage drives and works like a file server. It is ideal for small to mid-sized businesses with substantial data storage needs but without the capability of building an in-house IT department or storage solution.
3.External hard drives – An external hard drive is another inexpensive yet practical way to store, handle, and access your business data. It has a more substantial storage capacity as compared to thumb drives. But since this is a traditional form of storing data, it has plenty of disadvantages such as the inability to produce backup files and a lack of protection to data in the event that the hard drive is compromised.
4.Online or Cloud Storage – The rise of online cloud platforms has given way to a more convenient, hassle-free, and efficient way to store and manage business data. Small businesses need not be intimidated by this particular storage solution since there are plenty of options for all sizes of businesses. This type of solution lets you upload, store, and backup data onto a secure server. This cloud platform is integrated with advanced security protocols so you can rest assured that the information is safe and is only accessed by authorized individuals. It also makes it easier for you to access and share those files to eliminate the need to download and share those big files whenever needed.
If possible, and if budget permits, you should choose a combination of any of the above data storage methods. Your choice will depend on the volume of data you are handling and your budget. For startups with a low budget, you can opt for a modest data storage solution and then scale up as you go.
Whichever method you choose, it is always a good practice to make two full copies of the data and then one backup. This practice will ensure that you can maintain continuity of your business by making sure that you will never deal with data loss (no matter the cause).