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Is online backup a good alternative for SMBs?

Learn about the options for online backup when tape backup solutions become unmanageable.

My small business clients frequently forget to change their backup tapes. Is online backup a viable alternative for them? What are my online backup options?

The stories about tape backup failures in the small business arena are endless. Without a professional IT staff, no one does the constant babysitting to ensure that data gets saved to tapes on a regular basis and the tapes get sent offsite so they can be recovered if there's a disaster.

The rapid fall in the cost of both disk space and bandwidth over the past few years has brought the cost of online backup -- also known as data vaulting -- down to a level that even the smallest business can afford. Online backup involves a software agent on the customer's servers and/or laptops and workstations that encrypts, compresses and sends the data to a safe, remote data center. This can happen as frequently as every 15 minutes. In the event of an emergency, the software agent can restore the files stored remotely in the order they're needed. In the past, one would usually have to wait for a full system restore from tape.

There are several ways value-added resellers (VARs) can offer online backup services to clients. One way is to act as an agent for big name vendors like eVault and LiveVault, using their size to make customers feel secure. The second way is to join a private label program from DataVault or Digi-Data and offer online backup under your own label. Third, if you have a data center with lots of bandwidth, you can set up your own backup system with software from Novastor or Asigra. With this third option, you can set the system up to email you and/or your customer if backups haven't been made in a day to two, to ensure their data is really secure.

All in all, I think online backup is the perfect solution for the small business customer.

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