Data Storage

Sooner or later, your small business will need more space for data storage. Information in the form of e-mails, documents, presentations, databases, graphics, audio files, e-doc files like PDF, JPEG, TIFF and spreadsheets is the lifeblood of most companies, and the applications that run and protect your business require a lot of disk space. In addition, a number of trends plus Digitization era are fueling our growing hunger for storage.





  • Recent government regulations, such as Income tax Records, VAT, Service tax, Medical records maintenance regulations and many more etc require businesses to maintain and back up a variety of data they might have otherwise deleted.
  • For legal reasons, many small businesses are now archiving e-mail messages dating back five or more years.
  • The pervasiveness of viruses and spyware requires ever-more vigilant backups--which requires ever-more storage capacity.
  • Each new version of a software application or operating system demands more hard-drive real estate than its predecessor.
  • The growing need to store large media files, and make them available to users on a network is generating demand for more sophisticated storage solutions.

Storing information and managing its storage is critical to a company's behind-the-scenes success. Fortunately, there are many options available to small businesses for both the actual storage and the location of that storage. Often, the best solution is a combination of different storage options.

So how do you decide what's best for you? First, you'll want to consider your storage needs in terms of both capacity and physical location. Then you should look at the storage options that best fit those needs. Lastly, you need to develop a plan for implementing your chosen storage solutions.

What are Your Storage Needs?

Small businesses should first assess the storage needs associated with their applications, their data, and how and where they need to access that data. These questions will help you get started:

  • Which applications generate the largest amount of files?
  • Which applications run on which servers?
  • How old is the data?
  • How much of it is duplicate or stale?
  • How much is not business related?
  • How quickly do you need to be able to access that data?
  • From what locations do you need to access which data?

Once you're able to get a handle on how much data you're dealing with and the how, when and where of accessing that data, then you'll have a better idea about your storage needs.


External hard drives.

A simple and relatively inexpensive way to add more storage is to connect an external hard disk drive to your computer. External hard drives directly connected to PCs have several disadvantages, however. Any files stored on the drive but not elsewhere need to be backed up. Also, if you travel for work and need access to files on an external drive, you'll have to take the drive with you or remember to copy the required files to a USB thumb drive, your laptop's internal drive, a CD or some other storage media. Finally, in the event of a fire or other catastrophe at your place of business, your data will not be protected.

Online storage.

Services that provide remote storage and backup over the internet offer businesses a number of compelling benefits. By backing up your most important files to a secure, remote server, you're protecting the data stored at your place of business. You can easily share large files with clients, partners and others by providing them with password-protected access to your online storage service, thereby eliminating the need to e-mail those large files. And in most cases, you can log into your account from any computer using a web browser--a great way to retrieve files when you're away from your PC. Remote storage--especially during an initial backup session--can be slow, however: It's only as quick as the speed of your network access to that storage. For extremely large files, you may have to invest in higher speed network access.

Network-attached storage.

Network-attached storage (NAS) provides fast, simple, reliable access to data in an IP networking environment. NAS solutions are suitable for small and mid-sized businesses needing large amounts of economical storage that multiple users can share over a network. And given that many small businesses lack IT departments, NAS solutions are easy to deploy, centrally manage and consolidate.

NAS solutions can be as basic as a single hard drive with an Ethernet port or built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. Moving up in sophistication, NAS solutions can also provide additional USB and FireWire ports, enabling you to connect external hard drives to scale your business's overall storage capacity. An NAS solution may also offer print-server capabilities, which lets multiple users easily share a single printer.

An NAS solution may include multiple hard drives in a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) level 1 array. In plain English, a RAID level 1 storage system includes two or more equivalent hard drives (such as two 250 GB drives) in one network-connected device. Files written to the main drive are automatically written to the second drive as well. This automated redundancy means that if the first hard drive dies, you'll still have access to all your applications and files on the second drive.

NAS solutions can also offload file serving from other servers on your network, thereby increasing performance. A NAS system allows you to consolidate storage, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing costs; simplify storage administration and data backup and recovery; and allow for easy scaling to meet growing storage requirements.