Few things in the world of small business are more disheartening than pouring the sweat of your life into a project, only to find that a file has gone corrupted or even missing.

Big-time client proposals, business presentations, and even sensitive personal data should not be as vulnerable to data loss as paper in the wind. If the above scenario strikes you as even a possibility, it may be time to think about setting up a data loss prevention strategy and embracing cloud storage.

How Cloud Storage and Syncing Works

Recently, I did something rash: I embarked on my first attempt to build a PC from scratch. After buying the individual parts, consulting with online forums and chatrooms, and a marathon building session that involved troubleshooting and frequent YouTube checking, I did it. I had a PC of my very own, and it worked.

Because I sync files on the cloud, it wasn’t hard to do work on this new PC. I could fire up files via Dropbox and access my passwords without missing a beat.

Then, Murphy’s Law hit. The PC stopped turning on.

Even now, while in the midst of repair attempts, I’m able to function on an old laptop because cloud storage and syncing means I have everything I need no matter where I access the Internet. While the hardware failed me, embracing cloud storage software has kept the enterprise up and running.

The Need to Prevent File Loss

When a research firm looked into data loss, they found that the majority of small businesses were not prepared for data loss, with some 58% unsure of how they would handle the issue. That means setting up even a simple system can be enough to put your small business in the top half when it comes to data loss prevention.

It’s a sad state of affairs—especially considering how important preventing data loss can be.

Defining “the Cloud”

In the movie “Creed,” the young boxer Donnie takes a photograph of Rocky Balboa’s suggested training schedule rather than take the sheet of paper home. Rocky—old-school as he is—wonders why Donnie’s leaving without it.

“It’s already in the cloud,” Donnie announces.

Rocky looks up at the sky, wondering where this cloud might be.

Maybe you have a better idea of what the cloud actually is, but it doesn’t hurt to refresh: the “cloud” is just how it seems. In reality, cloud-based storage means you’re remotely storing files on someone else’s server. It’s that simple. The “cloud” can also refer to cloud-based services like Adobe, which now no longer sells the boxed versions of its products, but instead charges a subscription for you to activate the software on your own device.

The cloud works for storage and backing up because it’s about decentralization. When you sync your files on the cloud, they’re available to you as long as you have an Internet connection—no matter if you’re using your laptop, your tablet, or even your phone. As you might imagine, that portends well for frequent business travelers who have a habit of losing their hardware.

Building Your Data Loss Prevention Strategy

The simplest way of switching over from hardware to software is to think of it as the difference between digging up a file yourself and logging into an account. You can log into an account from anywhere and access your files—if you dig up a file yourself, it’s susceptible to getting lost.

That means you have to identify the key services best for storing your files:

But these are just tools. What about the strategy that keeps your files safe?

Redundancy. While it’s great to have one source of backups for your most important files in a cloud-based service, the key to effective security is redundancy. If you jump out of a plane, you don’t just want one parachute you can trust. You want a backup! Lifehacker recommends that you don’t make a service like Dropbox your sole backup. It’s hard to disagree.

Thing long-term. Because a service like Dropbox only keeps long-term files for a specified range of time (say 30 days), it’s important to keep your most important files handy for long-term storage. Again we turn to Lifehacker, which recommends CrashPlan for these purposes.

Stop assuming safety. Simply because you downloaded an app doesn’t mean that you’re now safe from all data loss risk for the end of time. It’s important to test out your systems. Keep your most important files stored physically somewhere—ideally somewhere secure—just in case all of these cloud options fail you. When your most important data runs your life, it’s worth the small investment of time to protect it. Don’t think of it as redundancy, but as a valuable investment of time that might save you untold headaches in the future.

With a proper data loss prevention plan in place, your small business will not only run more smoothly, but you’ll have more peace of mind. It’s worth setting up, even if it takes the work of an afternoon. You never know when it might save you the work of a few months.

Have other suggestions or tools you use to sync your files into the cloud?  Post a comment and lets talk about it!  I look forward to hearing all your ideas.