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Backup Problems Prompt Switch to Online Service

Susan Cameron, a partner at Cameron Consulting, encountered the nightmare that many businesses fear when it comes to backup. When the company's computers were overrun by a computer virus, she felt safe because she had been regularly running a backup system. That feeling quickly dissipated when she tried to retrieve the information and discovered that the backup system had not been working for more than a month. That problem eventually led her in the direction of an online backup service.

Cameron Consulting provides a variety of therapy programs to children with autism, who range in age from infants to adolescents. The company works with both schools and individual families to put programs in place to help these youngsters. In some cases, the company designs a program, conducts teacher training, and hands the program off to the school to run. In other cases, Cameron Consulting staff not only design the curriculum but also run the programs.

The firm is typical of many small businesses. It doesn't have a central server, and its dozen or so workers all use Lenovo laptops to do their work. They send a lot of email, and the business generates a lot of paperwork. Case files have to be developed for every individual in a program. Cameron Consulting is constantly tweaking its curriculum to try and improve the results of its programs. The company has to track and bill clients for service rendered. Last, the consulting company frequently contributes to leading journals in the field.

In the summer of 2007, the consultancy hired a local computer reseller to set up its backup system, a One Touch system from Maxtor Corp. "Many small and medium businesses do not have IT staff to install their own backup systems," says Adam W. Couture, principal research analyst at research firm Gartner Inc. Cameron used the system for several months. During the holiday season, the company discovered that several of its laptops had become infected with a virus. Once it dealt with that problem, it turned to its backup system to recover essential information -- only to discover that the system hadn't been working properly for nearly a month and only contained outdated information.

The consulting firm turned to the local reseller for help and was unsatisfied with the assistance it received. That started a search for other places where copies of key files may have been kept. Six weeks later, Cameron had recovered the bulk of its lost data, but the process certainly drained time and efficiency from its operation.

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