Dealing with data

Choosing the best solution for your business

 

Annual Internet traffic is expected to surpass 88.4 exabytes (that's almost one billion gigabytes) per month in 2016.

It’s difficult to say how much of this data comes from small businesses, but we do know that as small to medium-sized businesses grow, their data storage requirements do too.

In this article, we’ll review the three main data storage solutions available to modern businesses and equip you with the information you need to decide which approach best suits your needs.

Option one: buy an on-premises server

Maintaining an in-house server can be a good option for businesses that want easy access to, and complete control over, their data storage hardware. With an on-premises server (and some technical know-how), you can easily add new hard drives as required – and with hard drives now costing less than $100 for 500 gigabytes, it’s an affordable option.

Of course, having complete control over a server also means having complete responsibility for it. This means dealing with service providers, ensuring adequate security, accounting for server heat and noise, and rolling up your sleeves (or hiring a technician) if something goes wrong.

Option two: store your data in a data center

Data centers eliminate the hassle of maintaining your own server, while also taking responsibility for physical security and a ensuring a resilient power supply. Data centers allow businesses to replace capital expenditure (for new servers and hard drives) with operational expenditure. That is, you only pay for the IT hosting service and don’t need to invest in hardware that will eventually need to be replaced. 

Compared to investing in a server, using a data center often requires a higher up-front cost. And as you’ll be relying on somebody else if your website crashes in the early hours of the morning, you should look for a site with 24-hour support.

Option three: migrate to the cloud

Servers and data centers share a common source of risk: because your data is often confined to one location, it can be damaged or lost in a freak accident, like a fire or flood.

One solution is to start using cloud-based storage. With cloud storage, your data is copied across multiple locations, so that if one site is affected, another will automatically "step in."

One of cloud storage’s big advantages is that it makes your data available to authorized staff members wherever they are. Ambitious smaller businesses might also be attracted to "scalable" cloud solutions, which allow you to automatically add new storage space as required.

Of course, it’s important to bear in mind that a cloud-based solution is entirely dependent on the Internet – so small businesses with unreliable Internet connections should consider alternative solutions.

Keeping your data safe

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of selecting a storage solution that protects your data and gives your business sufficient growing space. So consider your business’s specific needs – it could be that a single server is the best choice, or perhaps that the cloud is more appropriate. Whichever solution you choose, ensure it’s secure, reliable and able to help your business thrive.

 

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