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As businesses grow, many experience an unexpected need for immediate, expanded capacity and excess data storage. This is imperative for businesses to maintain technical momentum through periods of growth and provide a safety net in worst case scenarios such as hardware failure and security breaches. Small businesses should proactively develop a data storage plan in addition to selecting storage platforms to protect company data and provide options for accessing data at any time.

Last year, an additional motivation for data storage emerged. New amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which went into effect on December 1, 2006, require any organization with the potential to be involved in litigation to be prepared for electronic delivery requests. Paired with HIPAA regulations and guidelines laid down by other government agencies, the message is clear: data storage and back-up is a must for any business, regardless of size.

Depending on the size of a business and its data, two main options can provide a proper back-up system: tape back-up for a server or an external hard drive:

1. Tape Back-up

For those companies operating on a small-business server, tape back-up provides the flexibility coupled with functionality that address specific small business needs. When using a tape back-up system, its important to develop a plan for how often updates will be made, which will depend on the volume of data being developed as well as the type of data to be stored. In addition, back-up tapes require a storage plan either off-site or in a fire-proof box.

Part of developing the plan is determining which data is crucial and which data is secondary. Backing up every single piece of data will not only cause the tapes to fill quickly, but also will make searching through each one more tedious for the user. One example of secondary data is personal data, such as photos, which may take up a lot of space but dont require back up. By creating folder hierarchies that separate business and personal files, the most pertinent files are easily identified.

A server environment also provides the opportunity for advanced capabilities such as digital fax storage, which stores electronic files of faxed documents, such as signed contracts.

2. External Hard Drive

For a business that lacks a server and instead operates on an individual computer, critical data is saved to a hard drive and an external hard drive can fill back-up needs. Hard drives also can be used to transfer data from one computer to another without defiling the integrity of the information. The benefits of using an external hard drive are numerous and also essential for backing-up and storing data at a reasonable cost. Most models are designed for easy access via plug-and-play set-up or by pushing a button on the front of the drive.


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