1. Which files should you include in your backup? Make a list of all the documents you could NOT live without. Think outside of just pictures and music or documents….what about your emails, or data from your financial software or tax service? What about your user settings and system files?
2. Do you know how to locate and select all the files on your computer that you would like included in your backup? Microsoft Windows hides certain system files to protect the standard user from deleting pertinent files from their computer. Because things are hidden, you may need help finding all the data you SHOULD be backing up. For instance, if you use Outlook, do you know where your mail file is located or how to search for the file?
3. Can a snapshot of the data be sent to the service provider? If you have a very large amount of data on your computer or servers, it may not be practical to upload it (depending on your upload speed) – so if the service provider only offers on-line uploads, even for the initial set-up, you might want to search for a different provider.
4. Are you notified when the backup does not complete? If so, how? Email? Text? Phone calls?
5. Can you schedule your backup to run when you want, or are you bound to the software’s schedule?
6. Do you feel educated enough to install, configure, and manage the data backup on your own? What kind of support does the provider offer? Do they offer live, real-time customer service both before and after the sale? Or is support primarily offered is through Forums, Q&A, and email support?
7. Can you use your computer while backups are running? How much will it affect the performance of your computer during backups?
8. Can you restore files back to a previous version? Some providers keep multiple copies of your data – this means that if you want to restore a file from 3 weeks ago (before you made that change to a document that you now don’t want to use), – you can. Ask the provider how far back you can go to restore a file.
9. Do you have servers running open files (i.e. Exchange)? If so, pay close attention to how the service handles this type of file backup. Many services claim they can handle it – but many don’t do it well.
10. Does the system support regulatory compliance requirements, i.e. FINRA, SEC, HIPPA etc…?
If you’re technically savvy, you may feel comfortable handling the download, install and configuration of the service on your own. If you are more technically challenged, you will want to choose a provider that offers more help during the setup process. Same goes for restoring a file, if you feel technically challenged, you probably won’t feel comfortable restoring your system on your own. Try to find a company that provides help during the setup process, the technician can help to make sure you are completely protected.