What Every Small and Midsize Business Needs to Know about Sound Data Back-Up Strategies
When we think of a disaster, climate events like tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes come to our minds. We can even picture what could happen to our business if in one of these situations. However, what we never think of are more mundane, yet more frequent events that devastate Small and Midsized Businesses (SMB). According to a study conducted by Ontrack Data International, Inc., only 3% of IT related disasters are due to natural causes; in contrast, 40% of business disasters are the results of equipment failure, 29% human error, 13% software corruption, 9% theft, and 6% virus attacks.
When we lose critical business data the consequences can have catastrophic implications on the success of our SMB. According to the University of Texas Center for Research on Information Systems, nearly 50% of businesses that lost their data closed and never re-opened, and 90% were out of business within 2 years.
During the summer of 2019, 22 Texas towns were victims of a cyberattack which encrypted their data. Some of the municipal governments, not much larger than a typical SMB, found out their data had not been properly backed-up and ended up paying ransoms to recuperate it. This was accomplished even though Federal law enforcement agencies do not recommend paying such ransoms. Nonetheless, without a healthy copy of data files, businesses, agencies, and organizations in general do not have a choice in these types of situation if they want to continue operating.
Unfortunately, many SMBs fail at preparing for the potential loss of their data and as a result, do not implement back-up strategies to safeguard this important asset. And those who do plan, most likely will not take precautions to ensure that their data will be available when needed.
For this reason, we highly recommend that you have a sound back-up strategy which clearly identifies the most important data your business needs to operate and is stored in more than one location.
We believe that a sound data back-up strategy includes an assessment that determines what data your business needs to restore your process in a short period of time. Once this is done, take the following steps:
- Document Back-Up Plan – The first step is for you to develop and document a back-up plan. The plan should indicate what data you need to back-up, to where, how long to keep it, etc. In addition, the plan must specify how often your data needs to be backed-up and who will be responsible for doing it.
- Automate Back-Up Activities – To make sure it does not fail; your data back-up processes must be automated. If the person in charge of a manual data back-up process gets sick or is on vacation, the process will not be done as planned, thus creating holes in the back-up set.
- Test Back-Ups Frequently – Make sure you test your backed-up data This can be done by randomly “restoring” files from the back-up device on a periodic basis. Make sure you compare the restored file against the live document to ensure the latest version of the document was indeed backed-up.
- Implement “Off-Site” Back-Up – Today’s Cloud storage costs are inexpensive and easy to contract. For this reason, make sure that your plan includes backing-up your data to the Cloud. This will protect you if your facility is lost due to a bigger problem. Make sure you also have a “local” back-up on-site to allow for faster restorations.
- Revise Back-Up Plan Periodically – Lastly, make sure you review your back-up plan at least every six months to identify folders not included in your automated process.
As stated earlier, without back-ups, restoring IT systems after a disaster, regardless of the size, will be time consuming, difficult, and costly. A well planned and implemented back-up plan does not have to be onerous or expensive, and will be a business saver in the event that it is utilized.