As important as electronic data files are to our small businesses, we don't always take the best care of them. We just assume that as long as we hit SAVE, everything will always be there when we need it.
In fact, the data on your computers has never been more vulnerable to loss, damage or theft. Today's computers offer so much built-in storage, there's little need to off-load files and programs onto to create more space. That may make your business life more convenient, but it also opens the door to a host of risks.
For example, your hard drive could crash, making data recovery costly and time consuming at best, impossible at worst.
A "bug" that slips by an outdated virus protection program through via a website or attached file could easily corrupt files beyond repair. And because many viruses operate by stealth, you might not discover the effects for days or even months.
Then there's theft. Laptops allow us to conduct business on the go, but when a data-laden device is stolen, all those important files are gone as well.
Fortunately, small business owners have many options for safeguarding data. Most are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement. One simple method is to copy your files to an external storage medium.
Compact disks and portable USB flash drives are ideal for files you use regularly, such as company data and current projects, while high-capacity external hard drives are well suited for backing up your entire system.
A wide variety of storage capacity is available for each option, and can be purchased from both online and local electronics and office supply retailers.
Online storage services such as Carbonite (www.carbonite.com) and IDrive (www.idrive.com) offer the advantage of secure storage in an off-site server, providing an added safeguard against theft or damage. You also can access your data anywhere, anytime, a key advantage if you're unable to use your own computers. Prices for these services vary, and may prove to be expensive if you want to upload large amounts of data.
None of these options will fully protect your data, however, unless you get into the habit of performing automatic backups and transfers. Making a weekly backup part of your regular schedule will ensure that your critical small business information will always be up to date, and available to use.
To contact the SCORE office at 3900 Industrial Blvd., Suite 8, Altoona, call 942-9054, email score575@ atlanticbb.net or visit www.alleghenies.score.org.