Data loss prevention is a big issue for small businesses. For a small business with $1.5 million in annual gross revenue, a server failure resulting in data loss might cost about $48,000 for your IT support to attempt to restore. (Successful recovery of your data is, of course, not guaranteed.)
Sound like a lot of money?
That number doesn’t include the less tangible costs like potential lawsuits for data mishandling or compliance violations and reputation damage. And the scary truth is that about 80% of businesses never recover from a significant data loss or breach event.
There’s no question—you must back up your company’s data from the individual computers and servers you own. Ideally, all of it. Or, at least the data that’s most critical to your business’s operations. Utilizing state-of-the-art cloud backup systems is often the best way forward.
Our goal is to provide some insight into the whys and how-tos of backing up your network, data, and even application settings to eliminate the very real—and potentially business destroying—risks of loss.
A Few Big Reasons You Need to Back Up Your Data
It’s true that backing up your data serves a “rainy day” purpose—the backup itself is not the ultimate goal. You back up as a means of protection. Obviously, you’re not planning to have a fire in your headquarters or become a cybercrime target, but those sorts of disasters strike businesses of all sizes every day.
You need to be prepared to handle these threats, namely:
According to recent research from antivirus software developer Malwarebytes, businesses were hit by 235% more ransomware attacks in the first quarter of 2019 versus the same period in 2018.
Indeed, a current trend in cybercrime shows that ransomware— the malware that locks you out of your own computers and/or entire network until you pay a ransom to restore access—is being used more often to attack business targets. This is particularly troubling for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) like those we serve here at EZComputer Solutions, as these organizations typically have fewer resources to both protect themselves from threats and deal with the fallout after an attack.
Did you know that the average failure rate of disk and tape drives is 100%? Think about it—they, like all of your business’s computer workstations and servers—are electronic equipment, which will eventually wear out and fail. It’s just a fact of life that none of your technology assets will last forever. Of course, this equipment can also spontaneously fail before it reaches the end of its predicted lifespan. These failures, whether expected or not, can make your data disappear if it’s not backed up.
We recently talked about the importance of disaster recovery planning for your business. A physical disaster like a fire, major storm, or flooding from a burst pipe can easily destroy your offices and all of your technology resources in your building. If you do not have backups of your data stored offsite in another location, you may also lose those valuable cyber resources. Ask yourself: could you start your business over from scratch without essential information like customer contact info and order history?
People make mistakes. And according to data backup services provider Carbonite, human error is actually the #1 leading cause of data loss. Sometimes a simple error, such as opening a phishing email, can start a chain of events that leads to a bigger problem with viruses or ransomware. Often, though, people accidentally delete files, or they lose a laptop or mobile device with valuable data on it. Ensuring that you have copies of any files that could be misplaced or erased is a wise move.
What Data Do You Need to Back Up?
The short answer to this question is “all of it.” But seriously, you need to have copies of data critical to running your business. If you have worked through creating disaster plans for responding to some of the most common causes of data loss we just covered, you will know what your most important data is. (Note that we can help you with this process if it seems overwhelming.)
For some types of businesses, the nature of the information they handle makes the backup process a little trickier. If you’re responsible for keeping sensitive financial or medical records within your systems, you are likely subject to government data handling and privacy compliance regulations. Are you sure you’re following the law regarding the ways you safeguard this sensitive data?
Different Backup Methods to Consider
There was a time when the only way to back up your data was using removable media like high-capacity tapes or disks that were stored elsewhere in your facility or offsite. Is your business still doing these kinds of backups? Spoiler alert: they’re insecure, unreliable, and the media eventually wears out and becomes unusable.
Newer solutions take advantage of cloud computing, which is the industry standard today. That said, there are still secure options for onsite backups. Often, businesses may rely on a combination of backup systems for the purposes of redundancy. Especially when backups are automated, employing more than one method is relatively easy.
Onsite Backup to External Drives/Servers
While you may no longer back up data to tapes and disks, you may be making one of the typical types of data backup configurations—full, incremental, differential, and or mirror copies of your data—to drives or a server onsite at your business’s facilities.
These types of backups have a few drawbacks you need to think about:
- Potential for the process to go wrong due to human or technical errors is high, especially if these backups must be manually kicked off.
- Unless you’re carefully monitoring your backups for integrity, there’s always a possibility that files can be corrupted without anyone noticing. Or perhaps your backups never fully run—would you realize if there was a problem?
- Only doing backups to external drives that are located within your same facilities as your original data is almost pointless. If a disaster like a flood or fire destroyed your offices and all of your technology, both your original data and your backups would likely disappear.
Offsite or Cloud Backups
While you may feel wary of backing your data up to “the cloud” because it can seem like you’re handing your private business information over to a 3rd party, cloud backups are the most secure method for keeping your data safe today. Your stored data is encrypted and frequently synced with servers in locations distant from your business location, but you can typically gain access to these files at any time you may need them for recovery.
The Best Backup Method
As mentioned, the best backup method for your unique business is one that’s secure, reliable, and automated. Cloud backups can offer these benefits better than backups to drives or servers in your physical location. We realize that budget considerations are often a factor, however, and costs may make you feel limited in what data you can back up and the method you choose.
And this is why working with an experienced IT company for your data backups is the smartest move.
Not only can your IT partner help you find the right backup method or methods for your business, but we can also take over all the work of backing up your data, too. Service plans actually tend to be more affordable than DIY approaches, as well, when you consider all the possible costs of data loss.
EZComputer Solutions Makes Secure Data Backup Effortless
In the Lancaster, PA area, we provide industry-leading data backup services to small businesses just like yours. Don’t risk losing your valuable data any longer—get in touch for your FREE data backup consultation today!
You’ll also want to download our helpful ebook featuring “6 Little Known Facts Every Business Owner Must Know” about protecting your data.