Small business remote storage

When constructing a small business disaster plan, a remote storage solution is one of the first steps to consider. It’s become common practice among IT personnel to warn people that cloud-based storage providers cannot be considered a backup solution. While we agree with this, we don’t agree that you need to purchase expensive corporate storage and backup solutions because of this. You can setup your systems backup to use cloud based storage. In this case, you will have a backup solution, and you will be using cheap cloud storage as a remote storage solution.

5 small business backup points to take into account

1. Rotation period

When designing your backup, always keep in mind that some problems will not be detected quickly. A user might change documents and discover the mistake a month later. Or, you could have data corruption in your application for three weeks before anyone notices it making your last three weeks of backup unusable. Categorize your data in crucial and non crucial chunks, then keep the rotation period as long as possible for the crucial part of your business data.

2. Ease of recovery

There are a lot of options for your backup to compress and encrypt data. Try to keep in mind that needing a backup is usually a stressful event, and that you will want to recover your data as fast as possible. Having to decrypt data, download or unpack huge compressed archives is all time consuming and will produce additional problems while recovering files. If your storage provider has filesystem level encryption, and a reliable method of securing and accessing your data – there is little need of you taking additional steps to secure it.

3. Complete data backup

Most of the time, a file-level backup of your data is insufficient. Your applications, services and servers will have separate configuration files, licensing methods or application files. While this data usually doesn’t change much, you still need to take it into account when designing your backup. It is important to create a complete backup plan with applications, services and server configuration files that reside on your servers and to build and document a complete backup solution.

4. Accessibility

Having multiple ways to access your backup data will provide you with more options in disaster recovery situations. If your IT support is able to recover files from their smartphone it might save you a valuable day of time when you need that previous version of a document ASAP. Having more ways to access data doesn’t automatically mean less secure, there is more then one method of secure data access.

5. Testing backups

Remember that backing up is only the first part – if you can’t recover data, your backup is useless. You want to be sure that you can recover data if and when you need it.
Testing backups often seems to be one of the things most people will overlook, and yet it is an equally important step as setting up the backup in the first place.

Our recommendations

A Dropbox plus account with 1TB of space (enough for most small business systems) will cost you about 100€ per year. This is a tenfold saving when compared to corporate remote backup solutions. Taking some time to design a backup with cloud based storage will cut your yearly remote storage costs dramatically.
Without getting to much into the provider debate, instead we offer some advice on how to setup a Synology to Dropbox backup solution.

[ Check out our file server article for tips on how to setup a Synology file server for your small business. ]

1. Designing and configuring your local backup
Setting up local backup

Setting up local backup

In order to setup your backup with the cloud sync DSM app, you first need to configure a local backup folder to be synced as a remote folder. This means checking all the small business backup points , using the Synology backup and replication app. Don’t forget to check the backup email notifications in Synology control panel. Receiving backup completion emails or errors will be your primary backup status signal.

2. Installing and configuring cloud sync
Installing cloud sync

Installing cloud sync

Cloud sync is a DSM application that will allow you to sync your Synology folders to a number of cloud storage providers, including Dropbox. To connect to your storage the app will provide you with a web interface to authorize the Dropbox connection. Worth noting is that the app supports most major storage providers, including Google drive, Amazon cloud drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Baidu, etc…

3. Setting up the remote backup
Cloud sync configuration

Cloud sync configuration

Most of the work will be done in your local backup configuration, so cloud sync setup should be fairly simple. All you need to do is select your local backup folder to sync to Dropbox, check the option to upload local changes only, and enable encryption if you are worried about Dropbox being hacked by third parties. One setting you should pay special attention to is control of upload and download bandwidth. Using less then 10% of your total Internet bandwidth for remote backup is a good rule of thumb.

4. Checking the statuses
Cloud sync working

Cloud sync working

Once everything is setup, Synology will display a top taskbar status icon of your cloud sync running. You can check your sync history, recently modified files or pause syncing completely. Still you will want to head over to your Dropbox account and check everything is there once sync is complete. Implementing a schedule to check your complete backup recovery procedure is also a must, you don’t want to find out your backup isn’t working when you need it the most.

5. Restoring backups
Dropbox recover files

Dropbox recover files

Restoring full backups from a remote location shouldn’t be your first choice, it depends a lot on your Internet connection and will always be slower then using your local backup solution.
Still, with the accessibility and ease with which you can restore single files or folders from Dropbox it might replace your local backup solution in certain situations. The ability to setup the Dropbox phone app, and restore single files within a few seconds from your phone can hardly be matched with a local backup solution.

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