Small merchants see value of data protection

Small businesses are increasingly realizing the importance of data replication and protection, according to an Oakville, Ont.-based company that provides hardware, software and online-based data management services.

A few years ago, many companies might have been prone to thinking that they had little need for data protection and data recovery systems because the run a relatively small operation, said Jeff Collier, co-founder and president of Stage 2 Data. “But no one is too small to need data back-up and protection,” he said.

“If your business handles transaction records between your company and customers or suppliers, you could have some form of financial data in your premises that is your responsibility. If you provide some form of service, you may have private medical or personal information,” said Collier whose company specializes in disk-to-disk data protection and online data backup.

Collier and business partner Jacques Swanepoel, were among the original key contributors of an Oakville, Ont.-based company called Evault that was bought by hard drive company Seagate Technology LLC in 2007. State 2 Data is now a partner of Seagate in Canada.

Collier said the stream of high profile data breach cases in the media and more information about privacy rights has heightened the awareness of many SMB owners. “When I first started in this business, there was almost zero awareness all the way.”

“Now many people are well-versed about technology and even small businesses know they need to back up data,” he said.

One such example is DK Consulting Inc. a small accounting firm in Oakville, according to Don Purchase, business account manager for Stage 2 Data.

The business owned by Allan Kowall is run by three people and brings in about $158,000 in annual revenues.  The company provides forensic, intermediate, managerial and office accounting services.

“DK Consulting is a small operation, but they handle sensitive financial information of individuals and businesses. Losing this data could be disastrous for them and our clients,” said Purchase. “That is why they use a disk-based backup solution.”

Another small businesses employing disk backup is Pinnacle Visual Sings Inc., also located in Mississauga, Ont. The company designs and creates architectural signs, lawn signs, outdoor advertising banners, way-finding signs and vehicle wraps and graphics.

The two-person company started out just a year ago and is slowly building up its customer base, according to owner John Verth.

“You might ask why a graphics company would need data backup. But protecting designs and having instant access to them when they are needed is integral to our operations,” he said.

He said Pinnacle frequently handles huge digital files that contain not only client information but designs for artwork they had ordered. A typical customer might send over more than four files that could be upwards of 500 megabytes each. Unlike some sign companies that discard the files after a job is done, Pinnacle prefers to save them.

“You never know when a customer will come back and say: ‘Remember that last job you made for us, we want that same design with just some alteration’,” said Verth.

“I originally considered keeping these files in-house but storing them ourselves would require expensive servers,” Verth said. “So we out-sourced backup to Stage 2 Data.”

No slip-up with disk backup

Disk backup provides superior data protection compared to traditional tape storage, according to Jacques Swanepoel, CTO of Stage 2 Data. “With disk-to-disk technology, your data resides on disk drives, proven to be more reliable than tapes.”

When your backup is complete, Swanepoel, said, it is easy to access files from disk drives. “With tapes, you never really know if your data is usable until you try to restore it, at which time it’s already too late.”

Stage 2 Data offers two basic types of services. Its standard offer involves providing a data server. The unit will serve as a vault for the customer’s data. The customer’s client computers securely connect to the vault to transmit data for backup.

Ultimate Data Protection for Small Business provides two secured copies in the cloud starting at a minimum of 10GB for $29.99/Month.

Add-On services include Small Business Premium Archiving (two secured copies in thee cloud) 0.90 Cents/1GB.

Customers get 24/7 access to their data and get full technical support from Stage 2 Data. The system not only replicates data files but also systems files to enable customers to restore their systems back to running order in case of a disaster.

Other providers typically charge anywhere from $1 to more than $1.50/gig for similar services, said Collier.

“As much as 95 per cent our clients are on the premium service,” said Collier. `This tells me that our customers understand the value of business continuity.”

Nestor ArellanoNestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and join the IT Business Facebook Page.

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