Trending February 2024 # Want To Invest In Your Favorite Small Business? Then, Fund The Republic # Suggested March 2024 # Top 2 Popular

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Crowdfunding should not be new to anyone. With growth expected to reach $5.1 billion raised in this year alone (representing an incredible 89 percent increase in dollars raised from 2012), the crowdfunding industry is certainly one on which you’ve kept your eye. Besides sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, however, numerous crowdfunding niches are really taking off, ranging from areas like Edtech to book publishing. Among them: Fund the Republic, a crowdfunding platform aimed at America’s Main Street businesses.

Fund the Republic is an investment crowdfunding platform that is focused on helping established small businesses raise capital, gain market insight, enhance customer engagement, and ultimately grow their business. Through Fund the Republic, ordinary people are given a way to play an active and engaging role in supporting local businesses through their individual investments.

“We’re in a very niche space in the crowdfunding industry, but it’s a space that we’re dedicated to,” says Charles Rand, co-founder of Fund the Republic.

According to Rand, following the economic collapse of 2008, banks become much more conservative in their lending to small businesses. Not that small business owners are enthralled to engage with banks in the first place: “Most of them don’t have good relationships with their banks, and most don’t even want to go through the whole loan process.”

This is where Fund the Republic comes into play; the platform offers established small businesses an alternative tool in funding that allows them to engage with people they interact with on a normal basis (and on more pleasant terms): their customers. Through Fund the Republic, local businesses are given the opportunity to acquire capital directly from their customer base at a lower cost than it would to take on a commercial loan. Want to set up a second location in another part of the city? Why not reach out to the people who already support you to help you make that happen?

“Nobody is doing debt-based crowdfunding for small businesses. So, while we don’t know whether the citizen crowd will be large enough to fill the [funding] demand from small businesses, small business councils are really excited about the possibilities.”

If and when a small business decides that they want to get involved in the crowdfunding space, Fund the Republic offers them a thorough walkthrough on how to create a successful campaign. What is it that they’re raising money for? How much are they trying to raise? What images or videos can you incorporate into your campaign page? From there, the platform helps businesses decide on which form of crowdfunding they hope to engage in and helps them make sure that their campaigns are optimized for the form they choose.

Fund the Republic isn’t just for any small business, though. After doing some research, the company discovered that small businesses often have capital needs that require tens of thousands of dollars, so they made the platform for established businesses looking for $10,000 to $100,000 in capital funding. There’s a key word here: established. In order for a business to actually create a crowdfunding campaign on Fund the Republic, it must have demonstrated profitability for at least two years and have a customer list (after all, they are the ones who will get on Fund the Republic to support your campaign).

If you’re interested, check out Fund the Republic. The company was most recently featured at Tech Cocktail’s DC Startup Showcase & Mixer. 

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Top 12 Productivity Tips To Help Your Small Business Thrive

A productive leader and team are essential for any business to succeed. productivity is more than just keeping busy. You can get distracted by tasks that are essentially useless and waste your time and energy.

“What is one productivity tip that you can share with small businesses? Why is it so important?”

These are the top tips for small business owners to improve their productivity.

Top 12 Productivity Tips to Help Your Small Business Thrive 1. Get a concrete plan in place

A concrete plan is essential for small business owners. You will be more productive if you create an annual business plan. First, identify your top goals for the year. Next, take your major goals and break them down.

Also read: The Proven Top 10 No-Code Platforms of 2023

2. Prioritize Your Responsibilities

You are likely to have multiple responsibilities as a small business owner and must manage many processes simultaneously. Prioritize if it is difficult to delegate some of your responsibilities. Remember that 80 percent is the result of 20 percent of your efforts. “Find your 20 resources and gradually increase them so you can grow.” Solomon Thy, TwoIMS

3. Delegate Admin and Non-Core Tasks

Small business owners should learn how to delegate administrative or non-core tasks, and focus their energy and time on the activities that will propel their business forward. When you start a business, it’s common to have multiple responsibilities.

But once you grow, it’s important to delegate non-core tasks and focus your time and energy on the key activities that will drive your company forward.

4. Automate and digitize tasks

Also read: Best Oculus Quest 2 Accessories To Bring Home (Its Upgrade Time For Meta Quest 2)

5. Define Success

It is important to define success and what ‘productivity’ means (and how it may differ between organizations, teams, or individuals) as a starting point. If an individual or group isn’t clear about how leadership defines productivity, they might get caught up in busy work for false productivity.” Christopher Tarantino and Epicenter Innovation

6. Stick to a Schedule

“Make a schedule and follow it as closely as you can. You can’t be too rigid when running a business. It’s not always easy. You should schedule regular tasks to be completed so that you can get into a routine. It can be easier to use scheduling tools such as Google Calendar or another app. “Professional habits are a way to get more done.” Kalin Kassabov. ProTexting

7. Hiring an experienced bookkeeper

It’s tempting to think you can do everything when your business is just beginning. An experienced bookkeeper will ensure that your eyes are always on the ball when it concerns managing cash flow and expenses. You can then focus on your business and grow it, rather than managing cash flow and expenses.

8. Use a strict filing system

Also read: Best Oculus Quest 2 Accessories To Bring Home (Its Upgrade Time For Meta Quest 2)

9. Make a standard operations guide

Small businesses should be focusing on productivity as they often have limited resources. Small business owners can boost productivity by creating a standard operating procedure guide, even if they don’t have employees.

10. Leverage Productivity Technology

Utilizing productivity technology is a great way to increase productivity. Use tools like Asana, Time Doctor, Todoist, etc. These tools can streamline your tasks and help you make them more efficient. This will improve efficiency and help you achieve your goals quicker.” Thomas Griffin. OptinMonster.

11. Monitor your business performance

12. Build Flexibility Into Your System

Migrating A Small Business To Linux

In a tight economy, it’s more important than ever to make sure every dollar spent is providing maximum return. And for a growing number of small businesses, this means reexamining plans for upgrading existing servers and workstations.

For many small businesses, this translates into more of the same. Renewing expensive licenses, buying newer computer towers and of course, in some instances, installing updates to legacy Windows software.

Cost in a value-based economy

What is the value proposition in getting a small business to make the switch to Linux?

Not able to offer a clear answer?

Then consider this as one possibility – control. Offering small businesses control over their own technology is something that most managers are unaware is even needed. After all, something breaks, they call whomever handles repairs, the problem is fixed.

And of course, the attached invoice for that effort is then paid. But what if there was an easier way? What if that same business owner who just paid the rather expensive invoice could find a way to eliminate many of these repair problems from occurring in the first place? Bingo — now you have your value proposition.

In a really lousy economy, the IT firm that can promise that a small business will be free of malware and Windows viruses, without needing to relicense anti-malware measures every year, is going to be very attractive to a cost cutting small business. Being able to deliver value for a larger one-time cost, and then support that value at a lesser cost over time, would indeed be highly attractive to small business owners everywhere.

Yet despite this promised value, delivering on such claims means overcoming specific hurdles that might be easier to overlook when working with a computer hobbyist. After all, today’s small businesses need their technology to work as expected, without excuses and without any show-stopping issues.

Software subtleties

A few years back, I helped a small bookstore switch over to Linux. Something I ran into during the course of this small migration effort was the concern over losing access to those famed proprietary applications such as Microsoft Office, Quicken and believe it or not, Photoshop.

In each case here, there are viable software alternatives, depending on the needs of the small business. However, even putting aside the learning curve, people prefer what is familiar to them.

In my case, I was lucky enough to avoid these issues through some creative retooling, but others may not be so lucky. What can these individuals do? Look at the situation as follows, small business owners need their computers to perform specific tasks. If what the Linux/open source world is offering simply won’t cut it for their needs, then clearly alternatives must be sought out.

Put simply, if there are multiple workstations in use, make as many of them as possible run Linux so the business can enjoy the benefits of the platform. If there must be one workstation using Windows for some reason, so be it. The fact that there is now a mixed environment is still more valuable than one without Linux being used at all.

In my experience, asking small businesses to use “virtual machine solutions” with Windows, which means accessing legacy Windows software from inside this environment, is met with a resounding “no.” For these individuals, either it runs well out of the box or not at all. This is something that most people need to realize early on if they plan on helping migrate a small business over to a desktop Linux solution.

This is not to say that a server solution couldn’t be implemented, then move toward the thin client route. But we need to remember the core point of this article – keeping things cheap and affordable.

Perplexing peripherals

Assuming a happy medium can be reached on the software front, another unavoidable challenge that must be met head on is ensuring that all peripherals used with any given small business are Linux friendly.

Best Web Hosting For Small Business In 2023

Best Web Hosting For Small Business in 2023

Boost your online presence with the best web hosting for small business

Funmi Looi Somoye

Looking for the best web hosting for small business? Well, you’re in the right place!

In this guide, our experts will share with you our top picks for web hosting providers that offer reliable, fast and budget-friendly services to suit any small business.

Whether you need to build a simple WordPress site, e-commerce store or custom-built site, we’ve got you covered. Keep on reading to find out more!

Products at a Glance

How we picked the best web hosting for small business

Picking the best web hosting for a small business can be confusing. But, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Here at PC Guide, we have selected the top web hosting services for any business whether you are an e-commerce store or looking for a budget option.

Our experts have carefully selected the top options by reviewing important key features such as bandwidth, storage space, uptime, security, and scalability. A web hosting platform that has a responsive, top-quality customer support service is crucial for anyone. That is why we made sure to only include options that have dedicated customer support.

Our Recommended

Best Web Hosting For Small Business in 2023

1

PROS

Free domain in year one

Cheap pricing options

Free website builder

Unlimited storage and bandwidth

CONS

Price jumps after renewal

HostGator is a top choice for any small business or blogger. It is especially great for content-heavy sites because HostGator offers unlimited storage with every subscription plan! Even if your site has thousands of visitors or a bunch of content – you won’t need to worry. Your HostGator website will have enough storage and bandwidth to make sure your business is always performing excellently.

Pricing plans start at an extremely attractive low price of $2.75 a month. With any plan, you’ll get unlimited and unmetered bandwidth, a free domain name in year one and a free SSL certificate. It also integrates with WordPress too and has various e-commerce tools.

HostGator is the perfect web hosting service for any high-traffic business that is looking for a low-cost subscription plan.

2

PROS

Free SSL and domain in year one

Inexpensive pricing plans

CDN included

CONS

no uptime guarantee

Storage limits

Bluehost is another popular affordable web hosting service. It is the perfect option if you have an e-commerce store thanks to their W00Commerce tools and YITH plugins.

Bluehost Web Hosting is a budget-friendly, flexible WordPress hosting service that comes with a bunch of features that would meet any business needs.

Plans start low at $2.95 a month providing unmetered bandwidth, 10GB of storage and a free domain in your first year. The online store packages offer great e-commerce features such as secure online payments, unlimited products and daily backups.

To summarise, Bluehost is a great option for any small business with e-commerce looking for an affordable and full-featured web hosting package.

3

PROS

Inexpensive plans

Excellent customer support

SSL included

CONS

No phone support

Weekly backups for the cheapest shared plans only

Hostinger is an excellent all-rounder web hosting service. This option is highly affordable thanks to their expansive shared web hosting packages.

Hostinger offers three Linux-powered shared web hosting plans called Single, Premium and Business. Plans start at $9.99 a month which drops to $3.49 if you commit to a one-year plan. Single lets you host one website, which comes with one email address, 50GB of SSD and 100GB of monthly data transfers. All of their packages also include an SSL certificate, Cloudflare protection and daily backups to name a few. Customer support is important for any business. So, you’ll be happy to hear that you’ll also get access to their high-quality customer service with a crew that is there to help you 24/7.

In summary, Hostinger is a great web hosting provider with some inexpensive plans that would appeal to any business on a budget.

4

PROS

Free domain name

24/7 support

Easy to build websites

CONS

Price increases after renewal

Free features only with year-long plans

GoDaddy is one of the most well-known web hosting platforms and website builders for small businesses.  They provide some of the best and most affordable site builders on the market and you don’t even have to upskill in WordPress or any other all-in-one site builder in fact.

Their plans are comprehensive and include all the features you need to get your site up and running in no time.

Web hosting subscription plans start at $5.99 a month or $49.99 for a 36-month package. If you’re also interested in their website builder packages, these cost $16.99 a month.

With any subscription with GoDaddy, you will get unmetered bandwidth, a free domain name, backups and 24/7 customer support to name a few.

All in all, GoDaddy is a well-known and trusted option for many small businesses. Despite not being particularly feature-rich, this platform is definitely one of the most user-friendly and affordable options out there.

Features and Considerations

When deciding which web hosting service to use there are a few features you should consider. To start off, you should understand your business needs. If you are hoping to build an online store you may want to opt for a dedicated package with added security features. On the other hand, if you are a business owner with high website traffic, opting for a dedicated web server may be the best option.

Additionally, it is important to consider some other key features. Some features you should look for are bandwidth, storage space, uptime, security, support, and scalability as these will ensure your website runs efficiently but is also safe from malicious attacks.

Finally, to find the right web hosting plan consider your budget and key needs. There are different types of hosting plans available, such as shared hosting, VPS hosting, cloud hosting, and dedicated hosting. Each type has its own pros and cons, so you should weigh them carefully before making a decision

If you’re looking for something different, why not check out our other software guides?

Best Time Management Tools in 2023

Best Workflow Management in 2023

Best Productivity Tools in 2023

Is there a free web hosting company?

Yes! There are a bunch of free web hosting companies that exist. Popular options are Wix, InfinityFree and ByetHost.

Our Verdict

Editor’s Choice

HostGator

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To be honest, all four web hosting services we have outlined in this guide are perfect for any small business. Depending on your business needs and budget you’ll be able to find an outstanding package using any of these sites.

Voip Buying Guide For Small Business

The cord-cutting movement isn’t limited to consumer cable and Netflix. As Voice over Internet Protocol communication matures and as high-speed Internet becomes cheap and ubiquitous, an increasing number of businesses are ditching conventional landlines and jumping to VoIP.

VoIP sounds almost magical: The hype makes it sound more flexible, more full-featured, and best of all, significantly cheaper than placing your calls through traditional telephone service providers.

But is VoIP really all it’s cracked up to be? Are the potential pitfalls worth the potential monetary payoffs? I’ll walk you through the basics, discuss the pros and cons, and take a look at three commercial VoIP services of varying complexity.

How Does VoIP Work?

Generally, things are pretty simple if you’re looking for a hosted service. Many of the top VoIP providers handle all the heavy lifting offsite, delivering calls to your phones and software clients without much hassle, especially if you use phones that are plug-and-play certified for the service in question. The majority require no additional on-site hardware aside from those phones; at most, you might need to find a space for a small box of hardware somewhere on-site.

In contrast, maintaining a self-hosted, on-site VoIP system requires a bit more work. You need an IP-based private branch exchange—a VoIP-friendly version of the PBX phone systems that many offices use—to route your calls to the appropriate phones on your network, as well as a device called a PSTN gateway. The PSTN gateway sits between the IP-PBX software and the analog signals of the public switched telephone network, converting calls to and from digital signals as necessary.

What Do You Need to Implement VoIP?

Depending on the size of your company and the infrastructure you already have in place, jumping on the VoIP bandwagon could cost your company next to nothing, or it could entail significant up-front costs.

VoIP requires a broadband connection—and the more simultaneous users you have, the more bandwidth you’ll need. If you work alone out of a home office, or if you have only a few employees, you won’t have much to worry about; for example, on my setup, running RingCentral’s Connection Capacity utility shows that my 15-mbps home Comcast connection could handle 11 calls simultaneously even if I had Netflix, Spotify, and an instant-messaging client running on the network at the same time.

Make sure that your internal network—including your routers and switches—can handle the load, too. Most providers suggest using a router with configurable Quality of Service settings and assigning VoIP traffic high priority to maximize quality.

If your Internet service provider has a bandwidth cap in place, you should take that into consideration as well. Most VoIP service providers use the high-quality G.711 codec for VoIP communications, which consumes 64kb of data every second you talk. In reality, even a large number of people should be able to chat it up on VoIP without having to worry about hitting bandwidth caps, but you’ll want to keep close tabs on your data usage to avoid exceeding that cap.

Next Page: The Upside and Downside of VoIP

VoIP Positives

What makes VoIP so attractive for businesses?

The low cost of VoIP is its biggest attraction. Business VoIP services are significantly less expensive than traditional phone services. You have much less hardware to buy or lease; in fact, many hosted services require no new hardware investment at all. If you do need hardware, it’s typically based on standardized technologies such as SIP, as opposed to proprietary products that tie you to a particular service provider. Monthly subscription fees are lower, as well. Verizon Small Business plans with unlimited nationwide calling, for example, start at just $63.50 per line, while Vocalocity offers the same unlimited calling with even more features for $40 per line. VoIP services also tend to be contract-free.

VoIP is cheaper than a traditional landline if you have staff in far-flung locations. Since in-network calls travel exclusively over data networks and don’t need to hit the public phone lines, most VoIP providers let you make calls to your coworkers for free, even if you’re in New York and they’re in San Francisco. Don’t worry, do-it-yourselfers: IP-PBX servers can handle remote employees as well.

Many hosted VoIP providers offer mobile apps that let you make and receive calls from the road using your data connection. Usually you can adjust the apps to ring simultaneously with your office phone or to act as a stand-alone extension.

Scalability is another boon. Rather than having to invest in costly new hardware, adding new extensions to a VoIP network is typically as easy as connecting your SIP-enabled phone to the network and tinkering with some software settings—and if you use a phone that’s certified for use with your provider or software, it could be as simple as plug and play.

If you need only a single line and want cheap calling, but don’t require all the bells and whistles associated with a business line, you might be able to get by with a residential VoIP plan, which you can find for as little as $5 per month for unlimited nationwide calling. Be aware, however, that the terms of use for consumer-focused plans typically forbid using the line for commercial activities. Most providers also have stringent fair-use policies, so you might run into trouble if your residential line rings off the hook day in and day out.

VoIP Negatives

VoIP’s most significant drawback is that if your Internet service or your power goes out, so does your VoIP service. Hosted services skirt around this issue by bumping incoming calls to voicemail automatically, or by rerouting calls to your mobile phone, in the event of a service disruption; but that doesn’t change the fact that you won’t be able to make or receive calls from your office phones in such a situation.

Most VoIP services offer unlimited calling in the United States and Canada, but connecting to mobile phones or special lines (such as free conference-call services) might incur an extra charge. Reaching foreign locales can be iffy at times, especially if you’re calling a less-prominent country. On the plus side, the per-minute rates tend to be very competitive. If you make international calls on a frequent basis, you should read the fine print before subscribing to any service.

Finally, although VoIP voice quality typically rivals that of a landline or a good mobile phone connection, your network quality can seriously affect call quality. If you have a slow, spotty, or crowded network, audio quality can suffer greatly—or even drop out in a worst-case scenario.

Next Page: VoIP Service Comparisons

VoIP Service Comparisons

Let’s take a brief look at three of the dozens of VoIP services available, starting with a relatively straightforward offering and ramping up the complexity (and flexibility) from there.

A Basic Service

RingCentral Office, RingCentral’s flagship business product, provides a good example of a basic VoIP service tailored to the needs of a small business. The company’s reputation for reliability is top-notch, but the most notable aspect of RingCentral Office is just how simple it is to get up and running; the service plans are straightforward and require almost no new hardware.

Hardware: RingCentral handles all routing and VoIP-to-PSTN conversions in the cloud, so all you need are SIP-enabled phones. Any SIP-enabled phone or any analog phone with an adapter will work with RingCentral, but the IP phones the company sells directly are plug-and-play, while third-party phones require configuring to use the RingCentral software. RingCentral sells the Cisco-Linksys SPA-2102 analog telephone adapter for $69; phones start at $99 and go all the way up to $600 for a high-end conference phone.

Price per user: The service costs $40 per month for a single user, $30 per month per user for 2 to 20 users, $22 per month per user for 20 to 99 users, and $20 per month per user for 100 or more users. Note that “users” means each individual SIP endpoint, not employees. For example, if you have an office phone, a mobile phone, a dedicated fax machine, and a “softphone” (software client) installed on your PC, that counts as four separate users.

Standard features: All features come standard for every user, with no à la carte options available except for the option to buy additional fax lines for $5 per month each. Special “vanity” local or toll-free numbers are available, but you need to pay a $30 one-time fee and $5 per month for each separate vanity line.

Unlimited calling to the United States and Canada, Internet fax lines, and extensions

1000 toll-free minutes per month for your company

Three-way calling; ten-way calling via Call Controller softphone

Caller ID

Voicemail, with a “Visual Voicemail” graphical user interface for checking messages on phones and computers

Virtual receptionist with dial-by-name, music-on-hold, and departmental support; optional custom prerecorded greetings start at $50

Advanced call forwarding, screening, and recording rules; transfer calls between phones in real time

Microsoft Office and Box integration

Mobile apps for Android, BlackBerry, and iOS smartphones

A Midrange Service

Vocalocity is a good example of a VoIP service designed for the needs of larger small businesses. Services at this level are more expensive than the types of plans that RingCentral has to offer, but Vocalocity’s plans include additional features such as 911 emergency-response support, as well as even more powerful options.

Hardware: Other than SIP-enabled phones, no hardware is required. The company strongly suggests using the plug-and-play certified IP phones that it sells directly, which start at $75 each, but you’ll find unofficial support for a number of other SIP-enabled phones, too.

Price per user: Vocalocity offers a trio of plans, which you can mix and match for your various extensions. An unlimited extension costs $40 per month for unlimited U.S and Canadian calling. A metered extension costs $15 per month plus $0.03 per minute, and is intended for infrequently used lines. Finally, a $15 virtual extension with unlimited minutes is available for people who need VoIP only on their mobile phones, versus a landline or softphone.

Standard features:

Unlimited U.S. and Canadian calling

411/911 calling

Voicemail, available via Web interface or sent to email as an MP3 file

Caller ID

Three-way calling

Virtual receptionist for each extension, with support for music on hold and dial by name

Free mobile apps and a desktop client with plug-in-based integration for several services and programs, including Outlook, Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM, and LinkedIn

Advanced call forwarding, screening, logging, transferring, and parking options

The optional add-on features are too numerous to outline here, but you can find the entire list on Vocalocity’s site. Highlights include the ability to add a paperless fax line ($15 per month), call bridging for 30-person conference calls ($15 per month plus $0.03 per minute), voicemail transcription, call recording, and call group and queue support.

A Complex Product

If you want the highest level of control and security for your business’s telecommunications, consider a self-hosted VoIP product using an IP-PBX. Here’s a look at one example, the Snom One Mini.

Hardware: The newly released Snom One Mini ($599) is a small-office/home-office IP-PBX server that draws just 60 kWh of power per year. If you want a completely in-house VoIP setup, you’ll need to buy a PSTN gateway to connect VoIP calls to the public telephone network; such devices cost about $250 and up, and require an active landline. The Snom One Mini, however, was designed around the idea of using an external VoIP provider that provides “SIP trunking” services to handle the analog-to-digital signal conversion. Using one of those services would allow you to skip the PSTN gateway.

Finally, you’ll need SIP phones. As with the other services discussed here, the phones that Snom sells directly—priced at $70 to $100 each—work best with this system due to their plug-and-play support. Other SIP phones or analog phones with adapters will also work, but they’ll require manual configuration with Snom’s server software.

Price: Hardware pricing aside, the cost of this kind of VoIP service will vary according to the provider you choose. Skype Connect, for example, costs $7 per channel per month, plus 0.8 cent per minute on outgoing calls. The number of channels you purchase determines how many simultaneous calls the service will support. 8×8 is another popular business-oriented VoIP service provider, but you’ll need to request a quote from the company to get pricing information.

Features: The Snom One Mini supports Power over Ethernet, so you don’t need an AC outlet to set it up. It supports SIP-enabled devices, and it has no moving parts. In addition, you can configure the Linux-based IP-PBX to include VPN, DHCP, VLAN, and other services.

As for software, the Snom One Mini IP-PBX includes:

Support for up to 20 extensions making ten calls simultaneously

Voicemail, optionally sent to email as an audio attachement

Caller ID

Customizable call routing and screening

Customizable trunking and dial plans

Multiple virtual receptionists

Music on hold, dial by name, and customizable time-based greetings

Email notifications for specific events

Personal greetings for each extension

Outlook integration

Conference calling with administrative controls, PIN codes, email notification for scheduled conference calls, multiple conference “rooms,” and ad-hoc three-way calling

Fax machine support via ATA connections

Most small businesses will lean toward hosted VoIP services, but self-hosted VoIP arrangements offer more flexibility, security, and—if you’re going the PSTN gateway route—a monthly cost of next to nothing in exchange for larger up-front costs (and a few more configuration headaches). Snom offers a one-year warranty that includes free setup support by phone or email, too.

Your Turn

Best Cloud Backup Solutions For Small Business

No small business is so small that it doesn’t need backup protection using cloud computing. And for most SMBs, a cloud-based backup service using a public cloud provider offers an ideal combination of security and convenience.

Protecting your company’s data is critical. Cloud storage with automated backup is scalable, flexible and provides peace of mind. Cobalt Iron’s enterprise-grade backup and recovery solution is known for its hands-free automation and reliability, at a lower cost. Cloud backup that just works.

SCHEDULE FREE CONSULT/DEMO

The reason that these backup are so essential to cloud security are numerous. In addition to cyberattacks, disasters like fires, floods and extreme weather can also necessitate restoring from backups. And far more mundane occurrences, like a hard drive crash or simply mistakenly deleting an important file, are much more manageable when you have a good backup process.

If your company doesn’t have a large IT team, one of the easiest ways to make sure you are protected is by using a cloud backup service. These cloud-based options get your data off-site, where it is far less likely to be affected by the same disasters that might be affecting your primary location. They are also extremely easy to set up and most are very affordable.

Still, you want to do your homework and make sure that you are selecting the best vendor for your needs. Here are some tips that can help:

Allocate an appropriate budget. If your company is relatively young and/or small – and very focused on lowering cloud costs – you might be tempted just to choose the cheapest provider. Or even worse, to go without backup protection. However, if you weigh the potential costs of not being able to access your files and applications for an extended period of time or, potentially worse, losing valuable data, you will probably realize that you can’t afford not to have a good backup solution in place.

Understand that most consumer backup and syncing services are not good enough.The service you use to back up your home PC probably is not what you need to back up your business systems. You don’t only need backup protection for your laptops, you also need to be able to get your servers and applications up and running after an outage, and you might also need to protect data that resides in cloud-based services like Salesforce or Office 365.

Don’t pay for features you will never use. On the flip side, you also don’t want to get stuck paying for enterprise-level services that don’t provide any real value for your circumstances. You probably don’t have to have immediate failover to a full secondary data center facility or complicated management tools designed for organizations with thousands of employees.

Look for an easy-to-use, convenient solution. Many small businesses have a very small (or even non-existent) IT team. That means you need a solution that doesn’t require regular manual intervention. The best options are those that allow you to “set it and forget it.” Your cloud backup solution should also have centralized management capabilities that allow you to check the status of the entire company’s backups.

Make sure your vendor offers strong security, including encryption. As already mentioned, small businesses make tempting targets for cyberattackers. Any backup service you choose needs to encrypt data in transit and at rest and enforce strong passwords, at a bare minimum. You should also double-check to be sure the provider meets any applicable compliance requirements, such as HIPAA and PCI.

Acronis serves more than 5 million consumers and 500,000 businesses in 145 countries worldwide. It offers online backup solutions for individuals, small businesses, enterprises and service providers. Its primary cloud backup service for small business users is called Acronis Backup, and it also offers several other backup products and services. It has won multiple awards and gets very high reviews from analysts and users.

Acronis can backup data from any type of environment — physical, virtual, cloud or mobile.

Because the company also offers cybersecurity technology, it is able to incorporate some security features into its online backup services, including ransomware protection based on machine learning.

Acronis Backup also incorporates blockchain features designed to prevent attacks on archived files.

If you are looking for low-cost backup protection, Backblaze might be for you. It has a very large customer base that includes both consumers and businesses, and it also offers low-cost cloud storage. It has more than 750 PB of data stored on its servers, and it has won several awards. However, this service is just for individual PCs, not for servers or data stored in the cloud.

To protect against ransomware, Backblaze includes 30-day rollback capabilities, which should restore systems to a point before they were infected.

The service supports single sign-on through G Suite or Microsoft Office 365.

If you need to restore your data from a physical hard drive, Backblaze will send a drive anywhere in the world, and it will refund the cost of the drive after you return it.

Popular with consumers, Carbonite also offers a range of cloud backup services for small businesses. These include Carbonite Safe (for organizations with up to 25 computers), Carbonite Server (for servers), and Carbonite Endpoint 365 (for endpoints and Office 365 data). The company offers low-cost, easy-to-understand pricing that starts at $24 per month for small business plans, plus a free 30-day trial. Carbonite users also get peace of mind from knowing that the service protects more than 1.1 million customers.

Carbonite boasts award-winning support that is available every day.

Data is encrypted by 128-bit or 256-bit encryption.

Database backup, application backup, image backup and bare metal restores are available for customers with a server plan.

Business plans also offer FERPA, GLBA, and HIPAA support.

Learn More about Carbonite

Cloudberry Lab is in the process of changing its name to MSP360, which reflects the company’s expertise in providing backups for managed service providers. That MSP expertise carries over into its SMB products, which protect endpoints, servers and cloud-based data in SaaS applications. The company also gives organization the ability to choose where their backup data resides — in one of the major cloud providers’ data centers or local storage.

The service supports all major platforms, including Windows, Linux, macOS, VMware and others.

256-bit AES encryption keeps data secure, and the Windows product also includes built-in ransomware protection.

Customers can choose to use a mix of on-site storage and cloud-based storage for their backups, if desired.

The service can also backup cloud-based apps like Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365.

If you are looking for a low-cost cloud backup service that supports servers as well as individual PCs, Crashplan offers a good alternative to Backblaze. This service was designed specifically for SMBs, so its features, like simplified management, automated reports, dedicated support and easy-to-understand pricing, are often a good fit for smaller organizations. The service has won numerous awards, as well as being featured on several “best of” lists, and it offers a free one-month trial.

Simplified pricing costs $10 per month per computer or file server, with unlimited storage included.

Copy data to a local external drive at no additional cost.

Protect your data with 256-bit AES data encryption at rest, configurable security settings and tools to achieve HIPAA compliance.

Choose to backup data continuously or on a schedule that you customize.

Pricing is based on consumption, so businesses pay for what they use and have the ability to scale up or down as needed.

Dashboards allow you to easily view and manage backup across all your cloud-based, on-premise and mobile systems.

The platform incorporates data forensics and predictive analytics to help spot any security issues.

Druva leverages AWS infrastructure to provide scalability, reliability and security.

Winner of multiple awards, iDrive promises enterprise-class features for small business at a very low price. Costs are based on the amount of storage space you use, and the company boasts exceptionally fast backups that don’t require a lot of network bandwidth. It gets very high ratings from analysts and customers.

Pricing for iDrive Business starts at $74.62 per year for 250 GB of storage.

256-bit AES encryption with a user-defined key keeps data secure.

The service offers snapshots, versioning, and true archiving that doesn’t delete data until you tell it to do so.

It includes both file sync and disk image backup capabilities.

Learn More about iDrive

Although better known for its IT monitoring and management tools, SolarWinds also offers a backup service for businesses. Best for larger SMBs, it has many of the features common in enterprise solutions, but with prices starting at $2,995, it is still affordable for some small and medium-sized businesses. It aims to take much of the complexity out of backup while still providing reliable service.

SolarWinds offers unified backup for physical and virtual servers.

Built-in compression and deduplication minimize space requirements and speed backups and restores.

Status dashboard makes it easy to check on backups and spot any problems.

SolarWinds Backup runs on a private cloud for added security.

SOS offers military-grade, multilayer encryption designed to keep data completely private.

Unlike most other services, SOS never deletes files; they remain available forever on the service.

The service includes support for mobile devices.

SOS also does not place any limits on file sizes or file types.

As a leading cloud data management vendor, Veeam has earned numerous awards and industry accolades. It has a lengthy list of industry partners and supports all the major platforms. It has more than 343,000 customers around the world, including Royal Caribbean Cruises, Telecom Italia, the Vancouver Canucks and many others. It offers multiple online backup products, including Veeam Availability Suite, Veeam Backup and Replication and Veeam Backup Essentials.

Small businesses can start with Veeam’s Backup and Replication services and move up to the full Availability Platform as they scale.

Veeam supports multiple physical, virtual and cloud environments, including backing up data stored in SaaS applications.

The platform is both simple to use and very flexible.

Veeam promises excellent reliability.

Company

Cloud Backup Services for SMBs

Key Differentiators

Acronis

Acronis Backup

·      Support for physical, virtual, cloud and mobile environments

·      Fast setup and fast recovery

·      Machine learning-based ransomware protection

·      Blockchain-based security features

Backblaze

Backblaze

·      Fast, low-cost backup for PCs

·      Ransomware protection

·      Support for single sign-on

·      Free hard drive restore

Carbonite

Carbonite Safe

Carbonite Server

Carbonite Endpoint 360

·      Award-winning support

·      Encryption

·      Image, database, and application backup

·      FERPA, GLBA, and HIPAA support

Cloudberry Labs/MSP360

CloudBerry Backup

·      Cross-platform support

·      Encryption and ransomware protection

·      Hybrid storage option

·      SaaS data protection

Crashplan

CrashPlan for Small Business

·      Simplified pricing

·      Optional local backup copies

·      Encryption and configurable security settings

·      Continuous or scheduled backups

Druva

Druva Cloud Platform

·      Consumption-based pricing

·      Built-in data forensics and predictive analytics

·      Unified management

·      Built on AWS

iDrive

iDrive Business

·      Low prices

·      256-bit encryption

·      Snapshots, versioning, and true archiving

·      File sync and disk image backup

Solarwinds

SolarWinds Backup

·      Support for physical and virtual servers

·      Built-in compression and deduplication

·      Unified status dashboard

·      Private Cloud

SOS Online Backup

SOS for Business

·      Military-grade multi-layer encryption

·      No automatic file deletion

·      Mobile support

·      Unlimited file size and types

Veeam

Veeam Availability Suite

Veeam Backup and Replication

Veeam Backup Essentials

·      Backup only and full data management options

·      Support for multiple physical, virtual and cloud environments, including SaaS

·      Simple and flexible

·      Very reliable

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