How often should you backup?

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How often should you backup?

How do you handle backups when you can't afford to lose even an hour's work?


When it comes to important business documents, time is money. As such you might want to backup critical files in real time, or close to it. This way if disaster strikes you can easily pick up working where you left off.

Many cloud-based storage services offer desktop software which runs in the background and automatically backs up new or changed files. These services can be divided into two main categories; backup and sync. It's important to appreciate the difference.

Backup vs sync
Backup services such as Mozy and Carbonite offer a lot more flexibility than sync services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. The trade off is that sync services upload changed files immediately, whereas backup services wait until your next backup is scheduled.

The best solution for you could involve running backup and sync service side-by-side to protect different types of files. A few cloud storage services such as SugarSync and Jungle Disk aim to offer the best of both worlds.

Thankfully some backup services offer the flexibility of backing up every few minutes, which might be often enough to meet your needs. Some also let you create multiple backup jobs, so you might schedule a backup of your critical business documents every 5 or 10 minutes but only backup your photo library once a day.

Are your Word and Excel files protected?
Whether you're using backup or sync tools, it's important to check how they treat open files such as word documents and spreadsheets. It's also important to understand the Auto-Save features built into your desktop word processor. Some Auto-Save features actually store recent changes in a separate hidden temporary file. It's only when you press Save that the actual document is updated with your recent changes.

If this is the case, you'll need to ensure that you constantly backup the temporary files as well as the actual document. Otherwise your online backup will only be as recent as the last time you pressed Save.

Next, we recommend you read our Guide to Backup for Small Business.

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