Choosing a backup solution is a commitment. Switching services, or worse, losing data, can be painful and costly so getting it right the first time is essential to the bottom line. Here’s real advice on what to expect when shopping for your solution:

1. Tape is great for backing up – if done correctly (though it’s extremely vulnerable to human error), but the restore process is a bear. Gartner Group reports 50% of tape backups fail to restore. Storage Magazine reports 77% of tape users have had tape restore

2. The cost of backup software is a fraction of what you’re going to spend. – Seriously, the costs for the solution itself are nominal, the costs to maintain the required servers and connect them correctly can be much larger. If you don’t work with a company that can provide this consulting as part of the installation costs, you may not have the implementation correct and are in danger of losing data.

3. The most popular operating system on the market, Windows, means that you are also the largest target for hackers and viruses. Putting your backup software on a Windows server is like putting a bull’s-eye on your back. Examine your options before defaulting to the industry standard.

4. Confirm that your backup provider is committed to supporting differing operating systems. If not, you are asking for a boatload of complications within your own environment. It’s nice to think that everyone is on the same system, but every time there’s an upgrade, some desktop will fall behind and there the unraveling begins.

5. There are plenty of options when choosing your backup and disaster recovery solution. The level of protection can vary widely — as does the price. Be sure you understand and have it clearly stated in your contract how quickly you can access your data in the event of an emergency.

6. On that same note, when evaluating your contract, pay attention to “per-client” and “upgrade” fees. Per client fees can add up quickly if you are in expansion mode and on a hiring spree. Upgrade fees apply to the software updates that your vendor pushes out to you. If you chose not to upgrade, you service may be compromised. Ask how often upgrades are issued and what the fees associated with those upgrades are.

7. Speaking of “per client” fees, make sure that you are including any notebooks that your employees may be using. In the event of a crisis, you may lose important data on hardware that you hadn’t covered.

Bonus Thing to know: Replication requires expensive dedicated hardware and a lot of connectivity.