Backup software is steadily climbing the list of high-priority business applications. The enterprise or entrepreneur with a gaggle of spreadsheets, videos, and virtual image files to account for probably needs something a bit more potent than the utility bundled in a USB stick. A third-party tool will do the trick, but with all the feature-rich options that look so tempting at a glance, making the right choice can be difficult. Take these important factors under consideration, and you’ll be less likely to choose a backup tool you regret purchasing later.
Understand Your Business Requirements
A recent survey by one backup vendor found that 50 percent of nearly 2,000 SMB respondents had no backup or disaster recovery plan in place. So if something went awry, be it driven by natural or manmade circumstances, their mission-critical data and IT assets would likely be unrecoverable. It’s simple logic. Securing the right software starts with first understanding your backup requirements. Identifying key data sets and vital metrics such as recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) will give you a few goals to target, and guide the path to a tool that can realistically hit them.
Don’t Slack on Security
A thorough backup and disaster recovery strategy is no substitute for an IT security plan. However, your backup software can help you beef up security if you choose wisely. For example, ShadowProtect offers built-in encryption that allows you to protect your data using three different algorithms. All it takes is a few easy steps to lock down backup copies on the servers or storage devices you have tucked away in an off-site location. Security features like encryption and password protection are all about peace of mind and sleeping a little easier at night.
When it comes to software, it’s fairly easy to give one aspect too much attention and another not enough. You’ve decided you want to ditch Windows, but haven’t given a second thought to installing and configuring an unfamiliar Linux distro. You’ve figured out what you need your ideal backup software to do, yet haven’t mapped out a realistic plan for getting it up and running. In the process of pairing up a list of features with your specific company needs, devote some focus to implementation and how you can integrate the solution into your existing infrastructure as smoothly as possible.
Get the Best Support Possible
It grinds my gears that some of the biggest and most successful technology companies happen to provide some of the crappiest support. Darn near inexistent! So ask yourself: Does the backup software you’re eying come with regular updates? Can you get someone on the phone or in the inbox if you have a question? What if want to track down your own answers? Does the vendor have a blog, forum, or other self-help resources you can turn to? From comprehensive user guides to detailed FAQs, the importance of good, responsive customer support can’t be stressed enough.
Try Before You Buy
Many products look like a winner upon first impression. But even solid products from reputable vendors can disappoint when you choose wrong. In some cases, it’s not them. It’s you! Look for something that offers a demo or free trial version you can take for a spin. This way, you can play with the interface, get familiar with all the administration tools, and possibly run a few DR drills. There’s a saying in IT circles that goes something like this: if you test it twice, then you only have to buy it once. Makes perfect sense doesn’t it?
With just the right spin, a well presented set of features can make any product sound like the second coming of sliced bread. No matter how awesome the copywriter makes them sound, don’t be so easily blown away by the shiny bells and whistles. Give the process of buying a piece of backup software the due diligence you give to choosing the right hardware, ISP, security vendors, and other investments you make for your business.
Photo Credit: Jorge Lascar via Flickr