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Business Continuity

The Road to Ruin: Why Business Owners Must Protect Their Data

By April 11, 2014 21 Comments

This guest post was written by our friend Judy Sherling. Judy is a management consultant and serves as a voice for the modern-day SMB controller on her blog,The Everyday Controller

disaster recovery

In my entire career, I’ve never had a corporate executive or business owner tell me they lost sleep over  losing their data.  After all, what’s insurance for anyway?  The downfall of such ignorance is that no matter how high your insurance payout no amount of money can buy back your lost data.

In an article published in 2011 for IDG News Service, the author, Grant Gross examines the impact of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the fact that ‘losses of technology and intellectual property on “such a large scale” were considered unlikely before 9/11.  What has often been quoted by various sources is that 25% of the companies located in the World Trade Center towers were never able to come back from the disaster because all of their data was gone and no viable backups existed.  What we also know is that backing up your data isn’t enough if your software vendor has performed significant customizations of your software.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, many companies suffered complete and total losses of their data due to flawed or non-existent backups and were forced out of business.

If you are thinking that it’s unlikely you will be the victim of a hurricane or a flood or even a terrorist attack, there are lots of reasons you can lose your data including employee sabotage (more common than you might think) electrical fires, viruses (I’ve been through that), etc.   Would you wait until you start having chest pains to think about writing a will?  I hope not.

From BCN News Services we are told the following:

  • 30% of all businesses that have a major fire go out of business within one year
  • 31% of PC Users have lost all of their files due to events beyond their control
  • 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months of the disaster
  • 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster.
  • Every week 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States (From: Mozy online backup)
  • 34% of companies fail to test their tape backups and of those that do, 77% have found tape back-up failures.

There are plenty more statistics but I won’t bore you with them.  The above statistics should be frightening enough.

Maybe you’re an attorney or a doctor.  The loss of client or patient files would be catastrosphic.  What if you got a call tomorrow night at 2:00 a.m. that your office building is on fire.  Lose your data, lose your Accounts Receivable………how easy would it be for you to construct your accounts receivables from memory?  Could you prove that the numbers were correct?

The history of backing up data has evolved from someone using a zip drive or magnetic tape for backup and then taking it home with them to cloud or offsite solutions.  The fail rate for tape and zip drives is considerable according to the above statistics.  Cloud and offsite storage solutions can provide substantial protection of your data.

Most of you reading this column are Nexxtep customers.  But are you taking advantage of Nexxtep's backup solutions?  If you are making your own backups but not testing them, you are just going through the motions.  Have you really thought about how devastating it would be to lose all your data in a fire, tornado, flood or broken water main?  You can replace your servers with new boxes, but without restorable data you just have new empty boxes.  And, if you are running a single data center (all your equipment is in one building) you are highly vulnerable to massive data loss.

If you are a business owner with a significant investment of time and capital, stay away from those one-man shops that can be here today and gone tomorrow.  They are not much help if disaster recovery becomes an issue.

I have never really understood why so many business owners are so unconcerned about the specter of data loss that hangs over them.  As we march towards the era of cloud solutions knowing that your data resides far from your business in a protected and safe environment must and should be in the forefront of all risk management practices.  The future of your business in which you have invested your life’s work depends on it.

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