Bound by budget constraints, small businesses are often employing risky methods to back up their data, a survey finds.
Small businesses are using a
variety of technologies to back up data, including some antiquated methods that
leave the backup process incomplete and susceptible to information loss, according
to a study from Carbonite Inc. (NASDAQ: CARB), a provider of online backup solutions
for consumers and small and midsize businesses (SMBs). The survey revealed some
surprising responses from small-business owners on how they prepare for a data
The data showed many
businesses are using a combination of technologies, including external hard
drives, USB/flash drives and CDs/DVDs, that can make backing up even more
complex and compound the risk for data loss. Despite known risks, small
businesses continue to choose a range of risky and unreliable technologies: 50
percent use external hard drives, yet 20 percent backing up their business data
indicated they started to do so because of a hard-drive failure.
The survey found 42 percent
use USB/flash drives, primarily because it is perceived as easy, yet only 6 percent
believe USB/flash drives are actually reliable. More than one-third use CD/DVD
drives to back up data, even though 62 percent feel they are inconvenient or
"Although many small
businesses are backing up their data, they're using antiquated methods, such as
USB/flash drives or CDs, which leave huge gaps and vulnerabilities. These simple
solutions may be relatively easy to set up, but they require ongoing
supervision to ensure they are performing, and can distract from other
work," said Peter Lamson, senior vice president of small business for
"Small businesses are
creating new, priceless data every minute of every day, and they can't afford
to be unprotected. Low cost, automated and easy-to-use methods are now
mainstream, so there's no reason for small businesses to be spending time
manually managing backups, when they could spend that valuable time focused on
their business instead," Lamson continued.
Small businesses stay
competitive by keeping costs down, but when it comes to backup, cutting costs
may mean using products with limited coverage and leaving SMB data at risk, Carbonite
research found. Twenty-one percent of small businesses using online backup were
using a free product. Since free online backup services are typically capped at
2GB, small businesses using these methods could be vulnerable to data loss. Some
small businesses already recognize the limitations of USB/flash drives, which
are often considered low-cost. Twenty-four percent of small businesses using
this method noted USB/flash drives do not work well for backup specifically
because they have limited storage space.
"Our study also found
that one in five small businesses don't know how much data they have, so it's
unlikely they have the right solutions in place. Backup solutions like USBs or
free solutions may not back up all of a business' data, so a business must
ration its backup or choose what they want to safeguard," said Lamson.
"Small businesses need to ensure they use a backup solution that has the
capacity and capability to keep all of its data protected."
When it comes to the time invested
in and the tech support used for backing up, 22 percent of small businesses
surveyed even pay for outside tech assistance. Notably, 40 percent of those who
manage the process in-house spend more than an hour per week backing up their
company data, with 6 percent spending more than five hours per week. Carbonite
research shows only 24 percent have backed up their data in the past day, and
24 percent haven't backed up their data within the past week.