Q: Backing up data is a best business practice, but this becomes especially vital in case of a lightning strike or another weather event that can compromise sensitive and important information. What is the best method for backing up data, including inventory reports, customer data and point-of-sale systems?
A: The best method would depend on how you keep your records. Even if you have just one computer you work on in the office, you can make your own backup copies on a hard disc or an external drive and copy them and bring them home. If you’re a bigger company with a point-of-sale system, there are outside services that back up data on the internet or there’s cloud storage. Cloud storage space is limited, but it’s free. A benefit is you can sync between computers. If you lose your computer at your store, and your data is on the cloud, you can go home and access it on your laptop. There are also internet storage services that encrypt your data and can store multiple versions of your information. Just make sure you do have copies. If you have paper records, then they need to be off the floor so they don’t get wet, and consider moving them off site.
Q: How can businesses get in the habit of safeguarding their information regularly?
A: One option is a network attached storage device. This is a separate server that can be set to run automatically. This may be an option, but it can have a higher cost.
Q: How often should businesses back up their data?
A: It is important to back up data regularly. Every week should be a minimum. For larger companies, daily back ups should also be considered. If you have an accountant, make sure you give monthly data to them.
Q: What’s the most common error people make when backing up their data?
A: Not verifying the back up actually worked. One thing a company needs to do if they are backing up their data manually, is to spot check it. I have had claims where a customer says, “I have my back-up data,” and they discover the data is corrupted when they try to restore their computer. Open up a couple of files to make sure you can actually read them.
Q: Why is it so important that businesses back up data regularly?
A: After a loss, when you’re trying to get back up and running, manually re-entering information will be very time consuming. Backing it up on a regular basis also helps in the event of a claim. For instance, if you changed your business plan by adding a service, and you believe your sales are up from the previous year, it would be helpful to document that trend. A claim will look at historical sales volume and what you could have expected if there wasn’t a loss. Therefore, if you’ve made a change in the last 6 months, it is important to be able to show the claim representative how the business is different from the previous year.
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