Data is exploding (not literally, although we\u2019ll cover that, too).\u00a0 The amount of data that organizations are storing has grown exponentially in the last 10 years. According to Gartner research director April Adams, data capacity on average in enterprises is growing at 40 percent to 60 percent year over year. Some of this information is stored locally but, increasingly, data is stored in the cloud. More data and more ways of storing that information may mean more confusion for small business owners and entrepreneurs looking to protect themselves.\u00a0 The purpose of this post is to explain what you can do to safeguard your data, to advise against bad practices, and to debunk myths about data backup and the cloud. So what\u2019s the first thing you should do to protect your data? I\u2019ll give you one guess.\u00a0 Wrong.\u00a0 It\u2019s not back up your data.\u00a0 The first thing you need to do is determine what data should be backed up and in what order it should be recovered.\u00a0 Let me guess: You think that all of your data should be backed up, because it\u2019s all important, right?\u00a0 But, guess what, in the event of systemic data failure, treating all your data equally will hamstring your efforts to restore your systems and get your business up and running in a timely manner. Here is a disclaimer: This all depends on how much data you\u2019re storing.\u00a0 If you\u2019re an on-the-go entrepreneur working from a single laptop, you can quite easily back up all your data.\u00a0 Most businesses, however, should prioritize data in their data backup and recovery planning. Now, let\u2019s say you\u2019ve culled the critical data from the noncritical data (I\u2019ll explain what this means and how to do this this in greater detail in my next post, \u201cThe 10 Percent Rule.\u201d)\u00a0 Now what do you do?\u00a0 You back up your data, which, of course, is at the crux of what this entire series is all about.\u00a0 Over the course of the series, I\u2019ll provide you with practical tips on how to back up, I\u2019ll troubleshoot specific problems and I'll offer case studies, but the underlying credo will always be the same: Take an active role in safeguarding your data. It's the lifeblood of any business. Backing up is not a one-time deal.\u00a0 It\u2019s a consistent, interactive effort, whereby you test elements and adjust according to results.\u00a0 It may sound like a lot of work, but you\u2019ll thank me in the end.\u00a0 After all, 100 percent of businesses experience some form of data failure at one point or another.\u00a0 \u00a0Will you be prepared when it happens to you?