The loss of any data, from customer details to website content, can be crippling for a small business. Thankfully, however, there are many data backup options available that can safely and securely archive your business’ important files. We looked at the most popular data backup options that covered the range of options for small businesses in terms of ease of use, features, and price.
Best Data Backup Solutions Summary Table
|External Hard Drive||Easy to use, economical, and efficient — but limited features|
|IDrive||Best overall service for backing your business’ data up in the cloud|
|SOS Online Backup||Another cloud-based option — more expensive than IDrive, but faster performance|
|Dropbox||Backing up and sharing individual files rather than entire systems|
Best Data Backup Solution for Ease of Use and Cost: External Hard Drive
If your data backup needs are very basic, then an external hard drive may be your easiest and most economical option. Simply plug the hard drive into your computer and copy the contents of your internal hard drive to the external one. This will provide you with an exact copy that’s easy to access and transport for a relatively small cost.
That said, we recommend pairing this with another solution on our list for added redundancy. Having two backups in two different locations will be more than sufficient for most businesses.
External hard drives can range widely in price, but it’s easy to find excellent options starting at about $75 for 2TB of storage space. This should be adequate for backing up the internal hard drive of up to a few computers, depending on how much data is saved on each.
External hard drives don’t come with many added features. They’re designed solely for storage. However, both Apple and Windows operating systems include their own data backup programs — Time Machine and File History, respectively — that automate the process at scheduled intervals assuming that your external hard drive is plugged into your computer. You can choose to backup your entire computer or just specific folders, retrieve backups from previous dates, or even fully restore your computer in the event that it’s lost, stolen, or crashes.
The most significant downside of using an external hard drive as your backup solution is that it’s just as susceptible to physical damage or theft as your computer is. For this reason, we strongly recommend two things:
- Store your external hard drive in a different location from the computer that it’s backing up
- Pair your external hard drive with a second backup option for added redundancy
Best Cloud-Based Data Backup Solution: IDrive
We recommend IDrive as the best cloud-based data backup solution because it’s easy to use, has a comprehensive list of features and options, and is very competitively priced for the peace of mind that it offers. Ideally, your business would pair IDrive with an external hard drive to give you two redundant backups of all of your important data.
IDrive’s business plan gives you an unlimited number of users and computers and prices based on the amount of storage that you need.
- $74.62/year for 250GB
- $149.62/year for 500GB
- $374.62/year for 1.25TB
- $599.62/year for 2.5TB
- $1,124.62/year for 5TB
- $2,249.62/year for 12.5TB
In addition to the storage that they offer, IDrive has a number of features that add to the value of their service:
- Files are backed up automatically as you make changes to them
- Files can be automatically synced across multiple devices to ensure that every device is accessing the most current version
- Backup your mobile devices, not just your computers and servers
- Share files with a unique URL
The only potential downside to IDrive is that your business doesn’t possess the physical backup of your files itself — everything is saved to the cloud. Because of this, we recommend pairing the service with an external hard drive that you possess and store offsite.
Another Cloud-Based Data Backup Solution: SOS Online Backup
SOS Online Backup is very similar to our recommended cloud-based data backup solution, IDrive, but with two primary differences. SOS Online Backup is generally faster at backing up your business’ data and files, but it comes at a higher cost.
SOS Online Backup’s business plan gives you an unlimited number of users and computers and prices based on the amount of storage that you need.
- $299.99/year for 100GB
- $399.99/year for 150GB
- $599.99/year for 250GB
- $999.99/year for 500GB
- $1,499.99/year for 750GB
- $1,899.99/year for 1TB
- $3,799.99/year for 2TB
In addition to the storage that they offer, SOS Online Backup has a number of features that add to the value of their service:
- Unlimited version history recovery should you need to recover and revert back to a previous version of a file
- Backup your mobile devices, not just your computers and servers
- Priority phone support available 24/7
SOS Online Backup offers a comprehensive cloud-based data backup service, much like IDrive, but it does so at a higher cost. Like IDrive, we would also recommend pairing the service with an external hard drive that you possess and store offsite.
Best Data Backup Solution for Individual Files: Dropbox
If your business only needs to backup some individual files or folders rather than entire systems, then Dropbox is an easy to use and cost effective solution. It also makes it very easy to share files with other users through a unique URL.
Dropbox offers two tiers of pricing that are suitable for small businesses. Their Standard plan at $15/month per user includes 2TB of storage per user and their Advanced plan at $25/month per user includes unlimited storage.
Dropbox offers a few features in addition to data and file storage.
Document editing and collaboration is achieved through Dropbox’s integration with Office 365, but because this is an external program it comes at an additional cost if your business does not already have an account.
Dropbox also includes a good range of security measures, maintaining compliance with ISO 27001, ISO 27081, SOC1, SOC2, and SOC3 standards. It can also be HIPAA compliant if your business signs a Business Associate Agreement with Dropbox.
Dropbox is an easy to use and cost effective solution for backing up and sharing individual files, but it’s not an effective solution for backing up entire systems. Backups are completed manually by dragging and dropping files into Dropbox — something that makes the interface easy to use for individual files, but too time consuming for an entire system. Hidden system files would also be missed in this way.
The Bottom Line
Backing up your business’ important data and files is an absolutely essential task, but it’s too often overlooked until it’s too late. For the best combination of security and flexibility, we recommend that you employ two redundant solutions: an external hard drive that you store offsite and a cloud-based data backup service like IDrive, SOS Online Backup, or Dropbox.