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Discussion of Files, Documents, and Data

Various types of files are used in business and personal life.  We would assume that most documents or files have some value to the user or they wouldn’t exist.

However, although documents, files, and data have some value at some point-in-time; they’re not all critical for our business operations on an on-going basis; and they may not cause heartache if lost.  You know that losing your personal photos, videos, or music files will cause you heartache.  Though not business documents, they serve as an example of one type of data that we don’t want to lose.

If we don’t want to lose data, we should back it up.  When something bad happens, like a hurricane, flood, we don’t want to make saving the family photo album the top priority.  That’s where disaster recovery comes into play.  We backup our documents, and we expect to be able to recovery them after the disaster – whether it’s a fire at the office, a hard-drive crash, or a particularly malicious virus.

A modern development on disaster recovery leads us to the opportunity of the cloud to be above and beyond the reach of natural disasters.  With cloud-based backup, we can easily replicate data between east coast and west coast.  It’s called geo-redundant storage, and its available now for everyone.

As I write this document in MS Word, I have saved it to my “One Drive for Business” account.  If you have a “business” Office 365 account, you have One Drive for business, with the capacity to store all your documents in the cloud for no additional cost.  Hmm, think about that for a minute.  I get Office 365 for my business, and that will typically include Exchange Server (enterprise class) E-mail, calendaring,  instant messaging (including instant screen-sharing, voice communications, and meetings), SharePoint online; and all the latest Office productivity apps – AND I get unlimited file storage in the cloud?  Really.  How much?  About $12.50 / month.  Huh?
Okay, yes, the answer is yes.  You get pretty much unlimited file / data storage with One Drive for Business.  Technically, there is a limit on the number of files (20,000) – but you get unlimited space (up from short-lived limit of 1 TB).  I just did a quick check and I have 4,076 files in My Documents taking up about 16.7 GB (that’s 0.0167 TB).  Now, remember this is on a per user basis.  So, all your users can most likely store all their documents in One Drive for Business, and the documents will be available locally, and on another PC if they have more than one PC.  They just have to log in to their Office 365 account, and the One Drive for Business docs will show up in their Start Menu in the Microsoft Office Program Group.  Recall, also, that when you purchase an Office 365 Business Premium or Enterprise E3 license, you get license to put office on five of your devices, including – say – business laptop, home computer, mobile device, tablet, extra computer, even your iPad.  (We have to get creative to try and use all five licenses, right?)  Anyway, the point is you get office, you get all the productivity stuff, and you also get this very easy and inexpensive way to keep all your documents backed-up, or synchronized, to the cloud.

So, for the belt-and-suspenders types, what does this mean?  If you put your faith in One Drive, do you get a backup to your backup?  I think it may take some time, buy you’ll occasionally see an instance where a Microsoft Data Center could lose a piece of your data.  I’ve seen it happen with CRM Online, once, when the system went down – then when it came back up it was missing the most recent couple hours of data that had been entered.  Our client received financial compensation in the end for that minor data loss.  It’s important to realize any limitations associated with your backup solution.

The advantages of One Drive for Business will take a little longer to explain.  We’re basically talking about a SharePoint site, with the same powerful features of Document Libraries including sharing, versioning, and more.  The documents are going to be available on any computer you log on to with your Office 365 credentials and your Office software installed.  If you don’t have a local copy of Office installed, you can go to, and sign-in.  Your One Drive for Business URL will be like https://companyname-mysharepoint/personal/yourname_domain_com/Documents.  And here’s a screenshot of your One Drive for Business user interface will look like online.  Notice, it looks just like SharePoint, because it is.

I’m not sure I’d recommend putting all my photos up in the cloud via One Drive for Business (I have approximately 282 GB of digital photos from 11 years of travel soccer among other photographic pursuits), mainly because I think it would take forever to sync.  Think if I set up my account on a new computer, and all those docs (photos) would try and sync down to the local machine.  Not a great idea.  So, there’s different usage scenarios for different types of data.  We didn’t talk about backing up an image of your local PC, an image of your server, backing up your documents to a more centralized location, or backing up Exchange on-premise mailboxes, or SQL Server databases.  But, we’re going to be addressing all the backup and disaster recovery scenarios in future articles.  Our next article will be about backing up individual “critical” workstations.  Then, we’ll address the centralized documents backup.  Then, we’ll discuss where might be the best place for project and proposal type documents.

And, I’ll leave with this bit of simple advice for backing up photos, videos, and music files.  Again, whilst these are not typically business documents – they may be – but, are more generally associated with home use.  And taking into consideration that there are lots and lots of different ways to approach this; I would say that one very reasonably-priced and safe approach is to first try and centralize all these large sets of files in a location that can be backed-up to an external hard drive.  External USB 2.0 (and now USB 3.0) hard drives can have 2 TB of data, and you can buy them for less than $120 (or $80 on a day like today, Black Friday, 2014).  So, if your digital music, video, and photo files are worth $300-$400 to you, buy three or four of these external drives and back-up your personal libraries.  After the backup, move the disk drive off site.  Make arrangements with friends and relatives to remind yourselves to do this every month.  They can keep your backups off-site; and you can keep theirs.  Keep as many copies as makes you comfortable, and backup on a regular, monthly schedule.

Happy archiving with this, and you’ll be thankful when the storm has passed, and you get all your data back.

Ian Smith
SyncraTec Solutions, LLC
Go about your business.


1 Comment

  1. I just found this great article by @messageops — #OneDrive vs. #SharePoint comparison. I like the number of scenarios in the matrix discussing #WhatToPutWhere. For example, accessing personal files that I’d like to share across my devices: perfect for OneDrive for Business. Documents that need to be enterprise-wide, require check-in / check-out, and a history of all versions: that would be perfect for SharePoint. I recommend this article as it high-lights the relative strengths / weaknesses of the products in regard to the data / document storage scenario.

    Also, I updated my article to say that OneDrive for Business elimated the 1 TB total data size limit. It’s now unlimited from a total data size. Still limited to 20,000 files per user, though.

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