Hurricane Sandy may have caused billions of dollars in property damage, and will likely put many companies out of business in its wake, as major disasters usually do. But your business doesn’t have to partake in national headlines in order to experience disaster.
In fact, for more than 80 percent of businesses experiencing a major disaster this year, it will come in the form of technology mishaps. Even a simple power loss or minor theft can spell major problems for an unprepared small business. The cost of a single small event, such as the data loss associated with the theft of a company laptop, amounts on average to $50,000. By some estimates, 50 percent of small businesses that experience unexpected hardware failure will be out of business within one year.
Yet according to a global study by Regus last year, the percentage of companies with no form of disaster recovery plan remains around 43 percent—and the number among small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) is higher.
Underlying this startling statistic is the reality that most small businesses simply don’t feel they have the time to devote to something as dauntingly complex as Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity. Traditionally, DR/BC has been the realm of big business, a complicated and expensive multi-step process involving consultants and lots of testing.
But new technology is changing that. For most small businesses, the disaster recovery plan can start with three straightforward items: Ensure employees know where to go and who to contact in the event of an office closing, update insurance policies, and maintain up-to-date, replicated, secure data backups.
Though it sounds complicated, the last step can be both the simplest, and the most important, step of all. Here is everything you need to know to take it in confidence:
Plan Now. Don’t wait until disaster strikes, or you have a new budget and a free weekend, to get started. You can’t afford not to make the investment.
Identify Your Critical Data. Knowing what you have and what you need is critical to ensuring you can access it when you need it. Critical data includes everything you use on a daily basis—employee and customer contacts, financial documents, data files—as well as everything you are required by law to keep and everything you might need later. Don’t forget logo and design files, past customer contacts, and email archives.
Choose a Backup Option. Secure cloud-based solutions are an ideal choice for most SMBs, as they are easier, more intuitive, and more secure than ever before. But know what to look for in a provider.
Choosing Your Backup Provider. Not all data backup services are created equal. Be sure yours meets these criteria, and be confident your company is truly protected:
Ř Multiple offsite replications in at least three distinct geographical regions. This ensures that even if power goes down for you and the rest of your region, your data will be secure and ready to recover as soon as the lights come back on.
Ř Near real-time backups. Current technology makes it easier than ever to ensure you never lose so much as 20 minutes worth of new data.
Ř 24/7 support. Agile data recovery is only possible if you can get help when you need it, because disaster doesn’t limit itself to standard business hours.
Ř Intuitive restoration. A good backup system will allow you to restore your data quickly and simply without technical assistance.
Ř Flexible restoration. Data that comes back in a jumbled mess can cost almost as much to recover as data that doesn’t come back at all. Choose a solution that allows for recovery of files, folders, partitions, mailboxes and messages, databases, and tables.
Ř Secure, encrypted, compressed formats. If a server is compromised by malware or hackers, it’s important that your data not be readable to thieves.
Ř On-site virtual server. While not strictly necessary, having an on-site version of your back-up can mean getting your business up and running significantly faster. Off-site recovery, depending on vendor, can take several days, while on-site recovery usually requires less than a couple of hours.
If you’re among the 43 percent who came into 2012 with no disaster recovery plan in place, commit to starting 2013 with confidence in your ability to recover. Because it doesn’t take a hurricane to make a disaster.