An Honest Look at the Pros and Cons of Unlimited Online Backup for Small Businesses

Owners of small businesses have a lot on their plate. Not only do they have to struggle against established competition and make a name for themselves, but they also have to manage the daily details that come along with running an upstart. This includes all the basic functions of the business plus data management, growth scaling and so on.

I include data management in this list of “details” because data management is an often-overlooked aspect of running a business. We know it’s important to manage data, but it feels like we are stretched thin as it is. Thus, data management is often neglected in lieu of more pressing concerns.

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backup (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

However, data management cannot be neglected in today’s business world. An oft-repeated statistic is that 80% of businesses close shop within 18 months of a major data loss incident. This particular statistic is open to some debate, but the fact remains that data loss can cause serious problems for a business of any size.

In recent years, numerous companies have appeared that offer unlimited online backup for small businesses. The main selling point behind these companies is that they make it simple to back up everything. They provide unlimited storage space, simple pricing plans and software that handles backup automatically.

Companies such as Backblaze and Carbonite offer unlimited online backup space for less than $5 a month. It’s a compelling offer, but is it worth it? Overall, I think online backup does offer enough benefits to be worthwhile. It’s not the end-all solution to data management, but it does come in handy in certain circumstances.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of unlimited online backup:

Pros of Unlimited Backup

The biggest advantage of unlimited online backup is that it is cheap. This is a huge selling point for cash-strapped small businesses. With storage plans that go as low as $5 a month, unlimited online backup is affordable for just about any budget.

Unlimited online backup is easy to understand. You don’t have to track how much data you store online or deal with complicated pricing plans. Once you get your subscription to an online backup company, you can use it as much as you want.

Unlimited online backup is automatic. This is a major advantage because manual backups are a time-consuming and unrewarding task. It’s tough to justify spending hours every week performing backups that you will probably not need any time soon. An online backup tool will handle the backups automatically with software that performs regular backups on its own.

Cons of Unlimited Backup

You trust your data to a third party company. No matter what kind of security standards and guarantees your backup provider provides, the fact remains that you are storing your data offsite on someone else’s servers. This doesn’t both me personally, but I also don’t deal with top secret information. This is something to keep in mind if your business is bound by government data protection regulations.

Each unlimited backup account only covers one computer. If you have multiple computers in your office, you’ll have to buy a separate account for each computer. It’s still relatively cheap, but you’ll never be able to back up an entire office for just $5 a month. You’ll end up spending a little more cash for a bank of computers.

Access to your backups is dependent upon an internet connection. If you need to access your backups during a power outage, you’re out of luck. The only way to access your backups is by logging into your online account. Most backup providers are willing to ship USB drives to your office, but you still have to wait to get your backups in hand.

So is it worth it?

I’d say that for most small businesses, unlimited online backup is worth a look. It’s not perfect, but it definitely beats having no backup plan at all. It also beats spending the time and effort on performing manual backups. Not only are manual backups time-consuming, but they are prone to human error.

In the worst case scenario, you spend $60 or $100 on a year-long subscription and decide you don’t like it. In the best case scenario, your backup provider saves your rear-end when a fire or flood takes out every computer in the office.

About the Author:

Wes Burns is a self-employed internet marketer and blogger. He understands all too well the risks of neglecting backups and losing data. You can read more about data loss prevention in his online backup guide.

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