For businesses, backing up data is one of the most important areas of IT. Lost data costs you time and essential information that keeps your business running smoothly. It can even cost you customers.

There are many ways that businesses lose data; it may be through accidental employee error, the physical failing of a computer, theft or natural disasters. Computer viruses may also infect machines and delete or corrupt information. Regardless of how it occurs, the outcome is the same; you need to find a way to restore it, and that is inevitably stressful and costly.

To prevent this from taking place, it’s crucial to have a reliable backup storage solution for all your data. Today, businesses have many different options, so let’s look at what’s out there – and what might be right for you.

External hard drives

External hard drives let you back up your computer files and keep them on a separate drive, and it’s one of the most affordable solutions you can find.

Pros: Inexpensive; easy to use; many different options available.

Cons: Hard drives only last 3-5 years, so if you don’t have a back-up of your back-up, or a permanent archive of information, a failed hard drive could spell disaster.

Online data backup

This is one of the most popular choices among small businesses, and you can select what information you want saved. It’s then transferred to an online storage system run by a third party.

Pros: Low cost can range from free to a small monthly payment; backups are easy to automate; files are easy to access from any web browser.

Cons: Length of time to restore data varies; need to make sure that you own your data if you cancel your membership.

Recordable Blu-ray

No, it’s not just for movies; Blu-ray discs are an easy, cost-effective way for small businesses to permanently store their data.

Pros: Has a large storage capacity; long archival life (50-100 years); easy to use.

Cons: Not ideal for daily backups.

Into the cloud

Today, there are many cloud storage solutions for small businesses.  While many of them are free for small amounts of storage, you can increase storage with a paid subscription. Some of the cloud-based options include:

Dropbox: Dropbox has earned a huge following in part because it works across all different devices. It’s compatible with iOS, Android, PCs and Apple, and it’s also extremely simple – a.k.a. easy to learn.

Google Drive: Google has created many office tools that have won over small business users, and for those who already are using Google, Google Drive is easy to set up and just as easy to use.

Apple iCloud: If you’re part of the Apple world, their iCloud offers a great storage solution, as it wirelessly syncs your data across all your devices when you make a change. However, it’s only accessible to Apple products with iOS 8 and higher.

MS One Drive:  Great for Windows users, this lets users store all their files in one place and then access them from any other Windows PC or mobile device. Automatic syncing updates files across all devices instantly.

Remember that there are upsides and pitfalls to any kind of storage solution, so it’s important you research your options and find the one that works best for you.