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Data Backup and Storage: Should You Stay Local or Go Online?

Whether to take data storage online or stay local depends on your risk tolerance. How two entrepreneurs decided.

Can't Live With It

Eric Barton, owner, FastEasySuccess marketing, an Internet marketing business, Milwaukee

Eric Barton is often one of the first to know about his clients' hottest business plans, marketing secrets and product launches. And he wants to keep it that way.

That's why the specialist in online marketing strategies decided to keep data backup on the premises of his company, FastEasySuccess Marketing.

"I deal with a lot of confidentiality agreements, nondisclosures and sensitive documents," Barton says. "That's one reason I chose not to use an outside storage source--because, unfortunately, with a lot of them, you really don't know what's going to happen with your data."

In his research, Barton says he found some companies that seemed to care for clients' data, though the assurances weren't solid enough to sell him on them. Then there were the others.

"There are a lot of storage places that I just don't see why anybody would risk putting anything sensitive on there," he says.

But Barton's refusal to send his backups to the cloud doesn't mean he's unprotected. He learned his lesson about data storage the hard way several years ago. "I had a computer with a lot of business information on it and it completely crashed," he says. "I had to start from scratch trying to remember what I was doing for clients and trying to get back on track. That was a nightmare."

Now Barton regularly backs up his data to an external drive.

"It really depends on what I'm dealing with for the week or the month," he says. "I will make sure that information is secure, but at a minimum I do it at least once a month."
 



Can't Live Without It

Shareef Defrawi, owner, Zizinya Web Solutions, a website and search engine optimization firm, Houston

Shareef Defrawi is understandably cautious about protecting his company's work, because 99 percent of it is computer-based.

"We've got everything from entire websites and historical marketing data to more sensitive information like client log-ins and credit card information stored on our PCs," he says.

In 2009, Defrawi thought that his business had plenty of backup protection to keep the files he needed ready to restore in case of a hard-drive meltdown. For years before that, he'd made sure that the company backed up locally to external hard drives every day. But when a computer virus hit his business, it not only knocked out his computers' data, it also struck those external drives.

"Although we eventually recovered 90 percent of our data, we were down for over a week," he says. "It was pretty nerve-wracking."

Defrawi decided to send those files to an online storage provider. Actually, two, to be exact. He sends his files out to Carbonite and Mozy--both providers of subscription-based online storage solutions.

"I think it's comical that I went with two, but that's just how safe I wanted it to be," he says. "They're both really just point and click. I don't even have to think about it and it goes off without a hitch every single time it backs up. I don't need to reconfigure when I'm traveling or anything."

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This article was originally published in the January 2011 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: A Question of Cloud Security.

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