What would you do if you lost all your data? I usually get a panicked look whenever I ask people this question, because the reply is sometimes “I don’t know! Why are data backups important?”.

If you don’t know what you would do then you’re heading towards a disaster in business. Don’t let fate come and bite you on the behind my not taking action on this blog!

Backups are something that far too many people ignore until its too late (a bit like good insurance). And the costs to rectify those kind of mistakes are far greater than the time invested NOW to get some protection in place!

So what kind of backups should you be making?

I personally recommend a 3 pronged approach to computer data…

1. Instant backup to cloud

This means a backup of your computer files as they currently stand. If you change a file, the cloud version changes. And for this I simply use Dropbox so I can access my current files on whatever device I have it linked to (i.e mobile, desktop and tablet). But there’s a problem here… if you delete the file, you delete the file on all devices. But the point of having this setup is “should” you lose access to one device, you can grab the files off another. Once set up you don’t need to do anything other than put your files in the folder you set as your “dropbox” folder. Easy.

2. Scheduled snapshots to cloud

I use Dropbox for an instant backup of the files I have on my computer, but what if you accidentally delete a file? This is where scheduled snapshot backups are great! I use a software called Backblaze that uploads all of my files to their server on a daily basis (called a daily snapshot). You can actually use Dropbox for this (up to 120 days of backups) but only for teams of 3, and Backblaze is a lot more affordable at $5 per month and you can have a single user.

I can’t tell you how many times this has saved me! Accidentally deleting a file but not realising for a few weeks would be a huge problem for most people, but with Backblaze you can go through your archives for 30 days and back to a particular date to download the file.

Once set up you don’t need to do anything, Backblaze will do it all for you daily!

3. Backup to an external hard drive

Once a week you should back up all of your files to an external hard drive. Yes, yes… I know… this will take work if you don’t have a backup scheduler app on your computer (I use TimeMachine on my mac). But its just another way to protect your business (especially if you have bigger files to backup that would take too long to upload to cloud).

I backup all my larger files separately onto a flash drive such as videos, to keep my main computer running fast and avoid lengthy cloud backups.

Other backups

1. Backup of your website files and databases

You may have a web developer that can handle this for you, but if not its worth having a chat with your web hosting company to see if they can do it for you. Many have a backup service they can bolt onto your hosting package, so should you lose your website files (through human error or hacking) it can be restored.

Most web hosting companies will take a daily backup for you as part of their backup service.

But I personally think that to be 100% safe with this, schedule a regular backup of your website to your hard drive. The more crucial the use of your website to your business is, the more regularly you should do backups to hard drive.

For example… if you have an ecommerce site, you will want to do hard drive backups more regularly. If you have a blog and you only update it twice a month, you don’t need to do hard drive backups very often. Schedule your backups into your calendar and make sure they get done to protect your business.

2. Marketing / finance / sales data

If you’re using an email marketing platform, it is definitely worth backing up your data on a monthly basis. The reason I say this, is because I had an instance recently where some data was removed from my Infusionsoft account accidentally and there was no way to retrieve it through their system. Fortunately as I had a backup of my data, I was able to retrieve the lost contacts!

Please don’t assume that just because you pay for a marketing service, that they will store historical data and allow you to reinstate it. Most don’t (or have a crazy huge fee for backup procedures) and this can be hugely problematic for business owners… but easily avoided with a simple backup procedure in place.

Again, schedule a backup of your marketing data in your calendar.

Depending on how you run your business, you should also look into sales and finance backups – although if your website handles your sales then your website backups should cover this.

In summary…

I know this looks like a lot to manage and implement, but as I mentioned earlier – the costs of NOT doing this are far greater and when you get these set up the process is often automated or super simple to do regularly. Don’t be the person to read this blog, ignore it and then regret it later down the line!

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