In the age of cloud-based storage and automated backups, there’s no reason any business should ever again suffer the hassle — let alone revenue losses — associated with theft or damage to computers or files. No matter your business size, there are data and documents you’d probably be lost without. Customer contact lists, financial information, product design specs, licenses and insurance certificates are just a few.

Use this checklist to help you choose the right cloud-based backup service.

___1. Automate it. Free cloud services are great when you’re on a budget, but you need to hold yourself accountable for backing up your own files. Take a daily task off your to-do list by using a paid service that provides frequent, automated backups. Experts recommend backing up all of your company’s files daily. Bigger businesses run automated backups every hour. Or take advantage of a service that lets you schedule backups — useful if you make large uploads or file changes at set times each day or week.

___ 2. Know your needs. Free services store only up to a certain amount of data before fees kick in. If your business is data-intensive — you process video and photo files, reams of financial data or medical images, for instance — you realistically need a service that can accommodate terabytes, not just gigabytes. Even if your needs aren’t that great yet, you’ll want to start out with a cloud provider that can accommodate your growth.

___3. Back it all up. Use a service that backs up across all of the devices used in your business. If records of physical assets, financial documents, payroll information, inventory, sales records and insurance policies are stored across multiple platforms, including mobile devices, you need a service that syncs all systems and backs everything up.

___4. Go for tech support. Only some cloud services come with 24/7 tech support. If you’re too small to have an in-house IT team, and you’re not sure you’ll remember how to retrieve documents when the time comes, subscribe to a service that includes phone, email or text-message tech support.

___5. Beef up security. As recent corporate data breaches have revealed, there is no such thing as “100 percent” safe when it comes to web-based data. But some cloud storage services boast military-grade security and state-of-the-art data centers. Seek a service with a world-class data center, and confirm that it encrypts your documents before moving them to the cloud. Having your own encryption key and password protection will further protect your files from security breaches by outsiders or from within your company.

___6. Look for transparency. How do you know your backup service is working? Seek out a user-friendly service that offers a web-based console that makes it easy to find out when your last backup took place, see what was backed up, and restore lost data.

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