A crazy data backup scheme that works

Symform's groundbreaking online data backup offering is turning heads, but can it win over skeptics?

I can think of a lot of words to describe small-business data protection -- "painful" and "expensive," to name two. But "cool" and "sexy?" Generally not.

Those last terms apply, however, to Symform's distributed peer-to-peer online backup architecture. This wildly innnovative approach has the potential to reduce the pain of small-business backup, provided it can win enough hearts and minds to stand the test of time.

Online backup in general beats the usual DIY slog, which is why more and more small businesses are taking the online route. With no dedicated IT staff, the simple act of ensuring that backup tapes have been changed is an error-prone hassle. Unfortunately, the online option has a big downside: If you're pushing more than a few gigabytes, it can get very expensive very quickly.

Online data backup and its discontents

Most online backup schemes ship your data off to the backup provider's data center, where it is stored and hopefully mirrored to a secondary data center. Given that the backup provider has to store and mirror all of your data (as well as all data from other customers), the biggest cost in managing your backups is in providing rock-solid back-end storage. And that's reflected in the dreaded per-gigabyte fee.

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