Even though small businesses don’t have the budget or the
sheer volume of files that some of the larger enterprises do, you still have to
protect the data. Smaller shops have their own issues to overcome that are just
as difficult and just as important as the big guys.

Most notably, many small businesses will have only one server
for file storage. The major issue with this strategy is that all your eggs are
in one basket, and you rely on that same basket to serve all of your other
office needs. Therefore, it becomes even more important to properly protect this
file server from a possible disaster. Since the bandwidth and hardware required
for most off-site replication systems is out of the question here, your choices
are limited, but there are options available for you.


Most servers now come with RAID systems already available with
whatever disks you get when the server is built. In addition, you can set up
very simple RAID systems via Windows and many other common operating systems. By
using mirroring via RAID, you can create another copy of the data that can be
used for the purposes of disaster recovery (DR) operations, and do so at a low
price point. The main drawbacks are that you’ll have to configure and manage
the RAID systems, and RAID doesn’t protect against virus attacks or other
real-time damage.

Backup systems

To protect yourself from virus attacks and other threats, you’ll
want to develop an effective backup strategy. While you can use the NTBackup
systems that come with Windows and the backup tools that come with other OSs,
you may wish to invest in a third-party backup
. These offer a large number of additional features, especially for
scheduling and dealing with open files that NTBackup simply doesn’t offer. You’ll
also need some form of removable media. For very small shops, this can be a DVD
burner, but for most others, this will mean a tape drive of some type. Also remember
that you should be removing the tapes from the physical location of the tape
device on a regular basis, so that the loss of your office space doesn’t
destroy the backups too. It is wise to perform full backups on a weekly basis—on
a day and time each week when there are the fewest users on the server—and
incremental backups nightly. This gives you the ability to recover from
data-loss outages.

For midsize offices, you may want to consider local
replication. Many replication tools work great in a LAN environment, and also offer
many-to-one capabilities. This means that you can keep a copy of all the data
on the servers that you have replicated to a single server. That DR server may
even be a small network-attached storage device (NAS), which can be economically
more feasible for these purposes. Much like RAID, these systems tend to be
real-time by default, so you’d either have to utilize backup tape to provide
point-in-time copies, or use a third-party snapshot tool for that purpose. These
tools often come standard with the NAS devices (yet another reason to
investigate that avenue), but keep in mind that snapshots to the same physical
location don’t get your data off-site.

Smaller shops have fewer options when it comes to DR, but that
won’t stop you from protecting your data. With the right technology, you can
find low-cost options that suit the protection needs of your organization, even
if you have only one server to protect.

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