Technology Advisor Blog

Dropbox - Know when to use it (and when not to!)

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 10/28/11 4:21 PM

DropBoxYesterday, during a meeting with a local business group, we started talking about data backup, and one of the attendees mentioned she's using Dropbox to backup the book manuscript she's been working on for a year.  While Dropbox is THE hot new Internet start-up (check out the recent article in Forbes), and it's a beautifully simple tool for collaboration and mobility, I cringed at the thought of relying on this service to protect a years worth of work.  I strongly suggested that she set up a secondary backup for her work, and also mentioned to the rest of the group to check into security and privacy concerns. 

Last year there was a serious security breach at DropBox during which for several hours, any user could access any account with any password. If you're not very concerned about the privacy of your documents, this in itself may not scare you away, but it opens up the door of where else there might be deficiencies.

In Ed Bott's blog post today on ZDNet - Sorry Dropbox, I still don't trust you, he highlights several other concerns.  Last year he canceled his account after the security breach, and then recently opened a new account to collaborate with co-workers.  After being alarmed when he received a referral thank you from someone he didn't know, he questioned again whether a full security audit was ever performed.

Bottom line, Dropbox is an outstanding tool for mobility between your computer, laptop, smartphone and tablet, and it's an outstanding collaboration tool, but think twice before using it for confidential documents, and don't use it as a primary backup of your work.


Tags: data backup, Dropbox, mobility, collaboration

How to Pick the Right Backup Software for your Small Business

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 11/22/10 8:56 AM

A question we get asked a lot is "What's the best backup solution for my small business?".  The good news and bad news is that there are a lot of choices.  So many choices that it can be overwhelming.  Here are a few considerations to think about:

1.  Get the backup off-site.  If there is a disaster in your office building and your back up is on site, you risk losing everything.  Make sure your backup gets out of the building either by physically removing the media, or transmitting it on-line.

2.  The backup should be encrypted.  Data protection laws often require this, but even if you're not dealing with protected information, you don't want your valuable business information in the wrong hands.

3.  The backup should be automatic.  Relying on someone to remember to run a backup and take the backup off site every day is risky.  On-line data storage costs have decreased dramatically over the past few years, so it's now affordable to transmit everything off site automatically.

4.  How often do you need to backup your data? Once a day is probably not enough. 

5.  Calculate the impact of downtime on your business. Your data can't be reproduced, so at a minimum your critical business data needs to be protected, but also consider the impact of down time.  Using an imaged-based backup can help you recover a lot faster in the event of a disaster, because you won't need to spend a lot of time installing software and customizing settings when you try to recover.

When you explore options to backup your data, don't get overwhelmed with all the technical buzz words.  Stay focused on what's needed to protect your business, and then look at the technical options.

Tags: small business, data backup

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