This article also appears on SMB Nation.
Is file-based backup enough for clients’ desktop units or should managed service providers be taking full, image-based backups of them? Proper desktop backups can be a value to clients and a potential revenue source for you. I’ll share a story that looks at why your clients are best served by full, image-based backups, not simple file and folder backups.
My roommate mentioned a few months ago that the hard drive on her laptop was showing signs of impending failure. She had issues saving files, odd noises coming from inside, and so forth. I told her I had an extra copy of StorageCraft ShadowProtect and that she was welcome to use it to take a full backup of her system. “Nah, I’m ok, I’ve got my files backed up,” she said. I shrugged and said, “You know you’ll wish you had a full backup, right?” “I’m ok,” she said. I shook my head.
Fast forward. My roommate tells me she took her computer in to the big box electronics store where she works as a member of what I call the “nerd brigade.” She knew the hard drive was on the cusp of total failure (the problems were now much worse) and so she tried to use a cloning tool to save a clone of her laptop on an external drive. Her hard drive failed completely when the cloning was about 95 percent complete. Bummer.
She ordered a new computer and was able to transfer the files over, but as we know, that’s not all that’s involved in setting up a new computer. As she got the new unit set up she had to reinstall everything, buy new licenses for Microsoft Office, and reconfigure everything to get it the way she likes it. “You remember when I said you were going to wish you took a full backup?” I asked, smirking. She sighed.
The lesson here is that file backups may actually work for some, even if it’s a pain. The really crucial data is mainly contained in these files and you’ll have them if you’ve got them copied to an external drive (if you can remember to). It seems pretty easy, but these files also rely on applications that will need to be reinstalled. This takes time, which might not be a biggie for a consumer. But for a business, that’s extra time that should be spent doing work and not wasted configuring a desktop from scratch. Image-based backups can remedy all that.
It’s useful for MSPs to think about the benefits of image-based backups when they’re talking to clients about desktop backup. A lot of businesses don’t see the benefit in taking backups of workstations unless they’re for high-level CEOs. Many seem to think that desktop issues only affect one employee at a time, which, on the surface, doesn’t seem like a big deal. Really, though, employees depend on each other in a lot of cases. What one employee is working on right now is something another employee might need to work on tomorrow. When one workstation goes down, the lost productivity from one employee can trickle out to a number of employees. This domino effect is costly, and it’s something for MSP clients to consider.
If a workstation is being backed up, the MSP can recover a full backup image to a new machine quickly and there’s no reconfiguration, no file loss, and limited downtime. That’s something all businesses can get behind. So when you’re talking to your clients about backup, be prepared to make the pitch for desktop backups as well. They aren’t as common as they should be, but they’re certainly a value to clients, though they’re often an untapped source of revenue for IT providers.
Photo credit: Robert Freiberger via Flickr