Digital Hoarder?: Online Backup can Capture Critical Business Information
Every time I move house I realise how much “stuff” I have. You know, it’s the stuff that lives in boxes in the closet, and under the bed, and in the garage. Stuff I just shift from one location to the next even though it has no immediate purpose. Yet I don’t want to throw it out.
But in this decade, more than ever before, the stuff we accumulate and carry around with us extends beyond physical possessions and in to the realms of the digital world. From music and video to bills and tax records, the amount of digital data we store is growing exponentially.
This applies just us much in our work lives and our businesses. Think about the last time you changed jobs, or even just bought a new computer. Even though you may have a company server and tend to store most formal work related data there, I’m willing to bet you still had a bunch of other “stuff” on your computer that was copied off separately. Stuff that you don’t use much, but can’t be without.
The issue with our digital hoarding habit is that digital data is much more at risk of loss or destruction than the physical gear we keep in boxes. Yet there’s a surprisingly lax attitude to protecting our digital baggage.
Small business workers are often the worst of the hoarders due to a lack of enforced network policies: Let’s assume most small businesses have a central server with an effective backup system in place and that most formal company documents, such as quotes and proposals, are stored on it. Then think about all the other data – let’s call it informal data – that can live on PCs and notebooks. Often there are spread sheets full of ad-hoc analysis, documents with plans and ideas, flow charts of possible process and procedure improvements and presentations about potential new product and services.
Much of this data I’ve listed, when grouped together, can be the most important information within the business. It’s the business’s IP; its future, its competitive advantages. Yet it can all be lost in the blink of an eye when your notebook is snatched from the front seat of your car.
Luckily, just as much as our life revolves around digital stuff, the digital world is evolving to accommodate. Online backup services are proliferating as storage space and bandwidth becomes cheaper. Such services can be thought of as online closets where our digital stuff is automatically archived.
I’d suggest most small businesses with computer based workers should consider adopting online backups of their key personnel’s PCs and notebooks. Not doing so puts you at risk of not capturing some of the most valuable information in your business. And the investment to backup invaluable data is minimal – most vendors charge only $1-$3/month for 1GB of storage. So a small business with half a dozen computers to backup may only have to invest around $200-$300/year.
Our digital “stuff” doesn’t always seem immediately important, but ask anyone who’s lost it all and they’ll tell you how devastating it is.