What Happens When Small Businesses Experience Data Loss

“Despite the major investment protecting data, 50% of organizations are not fully confident that they can recover systems/data today from all platforms.”  – http://bsf.co.za/the-global-cost-of-data-loss/

For small businesses, success is often tied to what you know and who you know. Intellectual property and knowledge needs to be at your fingertips to help customers find solutions to their needs. Your customer and vendor data need to be quickly accessible as well as securely protected. To stay nimble, that data is stored in CRMs and other productivity software that keeps your business running smoothly.  What happens when your business experiences a data loss?

Costs of Data Loss

Small businesses who lose important data without having a reliable data backup and recovery plan will experience downtime. Downtime has a profound and sometimes devastating impact on a business. You face:

  • Paying your employees for time they cannot work
  • Data recovery costs
  • Costs associated with fixing or replacing broken hardware and rebuilding your entire system
  • Bad publicity and a loss of trust by your customers – some of which may not return as customers.
  • If you depend on online sales, you may not be able to take or fulfill orders during this period, hurting revenue at a time of increased expenses.

To calculate the financial loss resulting from a catastrophic data loss event, add up the following:

Cost = (# Employees X loss productivity time X wage) + (cost to repair hardware and restore data) + (cost of lost online sales during downtime) + (loss of future sales by customers who abandon your business due to bad publicity or lack of trust)

Why Does Data Loss Happen?

Data loss happens for many reasons: physical hard drive failures, cyber attacks, and employees accidentally deleting data. It’s not a matter of if your data will be at risk, but when and how prepared your business is to respond and recover the missing data. So where do you keep your data?

Local Computers. When your employees maintain business data on only their individual machines, there’s an increase in risk that an individual hard drive failure or stolen laptop means there is no way to recover the lost data. Personal computer backup programs can offset this risk – if the needed data is stored in the selected backup folders. Since it’s not centrally organized, data recovery can take longer to piece together from multiple sources and backup files.

On-Premise Data. If you’re maintaining your own servers, you’re paying for hardware, software, IT resources and more. Backups are typically stored on Network Attached Storage (back in the day it was backed up to tape). On-premise backups can be inexpensive compared to the total costs of managing your server environment but your backup is at risk if something happens to the physical site such as a fire or flood.

Cloud Data Storage. Small businesses are moving to the Cloud for data storage because it is flexible, grows as you need additional storage, and does not require the expensive upfront capital of purchasing and hosting your own hardware. It’s also relatively easy for your staff to learn to use. If you are using subscription-based online software such as Microsoft Office 365 or SalesForce, then some of your date lives in the Cloud.

If you’ve chosen Cloud storage for your data, what are some of the risks?

  • Although Cloud backup providers are dedicated to the business of storing and protecting data, the big names may attract more attacks simply because hackers know the potential payoff is bigger
  • If it’s a small Cloud provider, what happens to your data if they go out of business?

A cloud provider should give you options for how and when your data is accessed and protected. Here are some of the questions to ask your Cloud backup provider:

  1. Is my data accessible in real time?
  2. Do you support data/file sharing?
  3. How often is data backed up?
  4. How long does it take to restore a missing file (in the event of an accidentally deleted critical file)? If per-file backups are not available, what granularity is supported?
  5. How long does it take to restore all data in the event of a cyber attack or hard drive failure?
  6. Are copies of backups stored in the same data center as my data or at another site?
  7. What disaster recovery simulations do you run to test their systems?

We advise our clients to backup their own Cloud data to ensure access and recoverability in the event of any data loss. Large Cloud providers have many clients and it’s unreasonable to think that they will restore data in a timely fashion, or file recovery may not even be part of your subscription software agreement! Backing up your Cloud data gives you more control over your business operations, and ultimately more peace of mind.

Not all businesses require the same data backup frequency, storage size, or recovery time. There’s an incredible amount of flexibility to Cloud data storage and Cloud backup options. You should weigh the expense versus risk for your business needs. A managed service provider can help you with these decisions and recommend Cloud providers that they trust and value.

At arielMIS, we work with a number of Cloud Service Providers and provide backup options for most of them. Three of the Cloud data backup options we recommend are Datto, Carbonite and Veeam which support both On-Premise as well as Cloud Services data. With the right disaster recovery tools your business can recover from a disaster (big or small) in a timely fashion so you can get back to business quickly.. Learn more at https://arielmis.com/total-data-protection/.