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Most business operations revolve around data, whether it’s developing new marketing campaigns, launching products, budgeting or anything in between. It’s no surprise that companies spend a lot of money to secure their data from risks and the associated costs. On average, small- to mid-sized companies spend nearly 7 percent of their revenue on IT and data management, an expense second only to employee salaries. And the money is being spent on extremely valuable services. With risks like security breaches, the loss of important files and improper use of file sharing, it’s wise to take proper precautions. However, the high cost of data management often leaves companies wondering how they can cut their data costs and still keep their valuable data protected.

The good news is that you can do both. The key to minimizing the risks and costs associated with data is to manage it efficiently. Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. Here are three easy ways you can reduce data costs and risks:

1. Eliminate unnecessary information

Massive amounts of data and large files can quickly overwhelm an internal server, leading many companies to pay for expensive off-site storage. The more data you store, the more you pay. Chances are, a good deal of your backed-up data is no longer relevant to your business. For example, it’s not uncommon for employees to store personal photos and files that take up precious space. If you keep data on your servers, make sure to review it periodically. Deleting irrelevant files before they’re backed up can cut your storage costs substantially since most storage companies charge by the gigabyte.


2. Monitor file-sharing services

Sharing big files can be a big pain. Email servers limit the size of attachments, making it difficult to share large files like PDFs or documents with extensive graphics or images. Instead of copying them to thumb drives, many people turn to file-sharing services like Dropbox to send large files more quickly. These services are often free, so it’s a cost-effective solution. However, they’re also risky. File-sharing services often send access links that are accessible to anyone. You don’t have to ban file-sharing services altogether, though.  By allowing employees to use only reputable file-sharing sites (those that require strong password changes every 30 days) and clearly communicating data-breach risks to employees, you can greatly reduce the risks that come with using file-sharing services.

3. Don’t forget about internal threats

While a great deal of emphasis is usually placed on external hackers and malware, your own employees are actually the biggest threats to your systems. And it’s not always malicious in nature. Losing a company phone, or accessing company servers through public wi-fi spots can also compromise your data. You can protect your data from the risk of an inside job by restricting access to files and servers. Use file services that have permission-based access levels to limit access to administrators and few others. Protecting your data from security risks doesn’t need to eat up your budget. By implementing these simple and cost-effective measures, you can reduce risk and costs at the same time.