Desktop and Laptop Backups – Why they are Important
Posted by Timothy Platt on Oct 27, 2017
Desktop and Laptop Backups – what are they and why are they important?
Why does your small business need desktop backups? Today we’re going to discuss this in-depth. Best of all, thanks to cloud services, you’ll find out it’s easier than ever to have complete, secure, and up-to-date laptop and desktop backups.
Laptop and Desktop Backups are Important
Historically, small businesses have backed up their servers – and that’s it. Meanwhile countless business efficiency is lost as employees struggle with lost and deleted files on their workstations. Historically, the mechanisms (and disk space) for backing up desktops and workstations (this includes laptops and notebooks) was simply too complex and unaffordable. This is no longer the case. There are many cloud based desktop backup services that can provide convenient and complete protection for your business-critical data. Given how much business productivity is lost dealing with missing files, we feel your business must have desktop backups. Read on to find out why.
Top 6 Reasons to Back Up your Desktop Data
Here’s the reasons your business must backup your desktops, laptops, and notebooks – in addition to your servers:
- Prevalence of Solid State Drives (SSDs) – As we discussed in our article on Solid State Drives, it’s imperative you have a backup of all business-critical data stored on solid state storage (this includes internal drives, and flash drives!). Why? Because when these devices fail, it’s sudden and complete. There are often no options to retrieve the data. Contrast this with a hard disk – before failure they often give off many clues – clicking, slowness, sporadic errors – giving you time to react and rescue your data. You won’t get any such helpful clues with SSDs.
- Full Disk Encryption (FDE) – We’ve also discussed the security benefits of FDE. It’s a best practice for security and privacy and ensures a lost or stolen device doesn’t compromise your confidential info. But what happens if the decryption keys are lost (such as when the motherboard – and the TPM chip- fail, or in the general case the machine won’t boot)? It’s best to have a full, secure backup of any business-critical data that is kept on encrypted storage, because it makes data recovery possible.
- Ransomware – Ransomware has become a common occurrence – because it’s so profitable for cyber-criminals. When a ransomware strikes, your data is held hostage – encrypted and inaccessible – unless you pay off the attackers. Having recent backups allow you to restore your data, and to break the cycle of encouraging further ransomware attacks by paying ransom.
- Lost or Stolen Mobile Devices – Lightweight and valuable laptops and notebooks are especially prone to theft or loss. And once they are gone, your data is gone with it. Having recent backups of your desktop data will help you recover quicker.
- Human Inconsistency – Perhaps you’ve instructed all your employees to save important files to their network home drive, or their DropBox account, or other cloud storage system. But at the end of the day, we’re all only human. Mistakes are made, short cuts are taken, and eventually you’ll find there are business critical files strewn all over the computer – the Desktop, Downloads, My Documents folder, etc. Being able to retrieve a prior version of a file, or a deleted file, can translate to increased business productivity.
- Lastly, it’s simply not acceptable to have a single copy of any business-critical data. – In the event of data loss, you’ll spend a lot of time painstakingly re-creating missing data, by retrieving files from your email “Sent” items, from your colleagues, or from memory. There’s simply no reason to have to put up with this.
Objection #1 – But We Use DropBox (or Google Drive, or OneDrive) …
Here’s the most common feedback: Businesses that use a cloud storage option with syncing (such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox) feel like that’s adequate protection. And it might be, but only in some cases. These cloud storage systems aren’t really backup solutions, even with syncing. Sure, they create multiple copies of your data, but they don’t necessarily provide a way to restore deleted or corrupted files, or past versions of files. Secondly, they are typically not able to protect your Desktop, Downloads, and My Documents folders, there’s usually only a sub-folder underneath one of those. And lastly, while they may have some versioning capabilities – allowing you to retrieve an earlier version of a document – this capability is often very limited. Typically, a very limited number or timespan of versions is kept.
Objection #2 – I use an external USB drive for backups
Perhaps you use an USB connected external drive for backups. Firstly, let us say that any backup is better than no backup. But connecting USB external drives for a backup requires you to take that action regularly. When that drive isn’t connected, no backup is happening. Secondly, this option does not scale beyond two or three machines. And lastly this is not a good option for today’s mobile workforce. A backup hard drive is yet another item to travel with – and can be lost or stolen.
For all these reasons, cloud based desktop backups are superior, as we’ll explain in the next section
Desktop Backup Features that We Recommend
Given all the above, we recommend you use a cloud based desktop backup solution. Cloud based solutions have the storage capacity, ease of use, security, and feature set that you need. What features should you look for? Here’s some starting points:
- Cloud based – With the hyper-mobile workforce of today, it’s best that your files can be backed up anytime you are on the Internet. Cloud based solutions are best for this reason.
Secondly, this avoids having to maintain excessive local storage – which is relatively expensive.
- Storage Limits – Make sure you will have enough room to backup all your data. “Unlimited” is best. Also check the fine print – how long are deleted files kept? 30 days? or forever? How many versions of an edited file are kept? These are important considerations. There’s nothing worse than going to backup on day 31 and finding that deleted file is no longer there…
- External Storage – Can you backup an external hard drive, such as a USB connected drive? Some products support this, some don’t. Some require you to connect the drive at least every 30 days. That could lead to some nasty surprises…
- Encryption – Look for strong encryption, such as AES-256 or stronger. This is your business-critical data. It’s got to be encrypted.
- Easy to Use – Can you easily restore files and versions? How about if you need to retrieve all of your backed-up data? How long will it take? Are there artificial limits (like can you only download 1,000 files at a time)? Do they have options for expedited shipment of a disk or other physical device?
- Central Administration – The best enterprise class tools let the IT team ensure the backups are working and assist users as needed. Look for a product with a full featured administrator console. A backup is worthless if it’s 6 months out of date. It’s important to manage your backups and check on them regularly.
Get Help from the Desktop Backup Experts
We hope this information has been helpful. Your situation and unique requirements will need specific assessment. And remember, we’re here to help. If you’ve got a computer related challenge, whether onsite or in the cloud, give us a call at (407) 268-6626. We’d love to help.
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