As you head into the office, you’re not thinking about backing up the data on your computer. Instead, your focus is on navigating rush hour traffic and listening to the news. But then you hear that the area rivers are starting to overflow their banks. You think about it for a moment; and hope everyone is ok.
Until... you drive up the street towards your office and encounter police cars just a few hundred yards away. They’re turning everyone around and telling them to go another way. Only you can’t go another way, because your office is straight ahead.
You start to come to this awful realization that your entire office is under water. The bottom of your stomach falls out, and you think you’re going to be sick because all of your business information is stored on a hard drive at the office… which is currently sitting under water.
You’re out of business, or are you?
This is exactly the scenario that many businesses faced in October 2016 after Hurricane Matthew came tearing through, which damaged more than 19,000 businesses in the state and caused indirect losses at tens of thousands more. There were 680,000 customers without power at one point, and widespread flooding after the hurricane, with some rivers not cresting until nearly a week later. Not to mention over $10 billion dollars worth of damage.
The reality is that most businesses that are affected by this type of natural disaster don’t have a good backup strategy in place for their data. If they back their data up, it may be to a hard drive that is kept on-site, but in the flood scenario that clearly isn’t enough. They are small businesses, whose owners don’t think they can afford the costly backup options that are available on the market, so they take a “wait and pray” approach. They wait and see if something will happen before they’ve grown enough to “afford” backups, and they pray that it doesn’t happen to them.
The odds of something like this happening to you are minimal – right?
Here are a few common ways that data is frequently lost:
- Employee Theft - Disgruntled employees frequently steal data from a company. They can compromise your information or outright delete it. By ensuring you have a backup strategy, you can restore your data if you have an unfortunate event caused by a disgruntled employee who decides to delete, or worse, corrupt a bunch of your critical files before leaving the company.
- Ransomware - Small businesses are more often being targeted for this type of attack in which all of the company’s data is held up and encrypted in exchange for ransom. Unfortunately, approximately 60% of businesses that undergo this type of attack go out of business. Imagine having to contact your clients, especially if you’re in a sector where client data is very confidential, and letting them know that you have been compromised. This will, not only cause you to lose current customers, but also future customers due to loss of reputation for your business. It’s definitely not going to be a happy day in your business, and an attack like this may very well put you out of business.
- Natural Disasters - Between hurricanes, tornadoes and floods, there are numerous ways that your data can be lost due to events entirely outside of your control. All it takes is a good tornado or a really good amount of rainfall to cause unbelievable amounts of damage, and cause you to lose critical data in your business. Hurricane Matthew caused over a month of flooding in 2016, but other hurricanes have also caused widespread outages and flooding in North Carolina. In 1996, Fran caused massive damage as well as significant flooding. Some businesses were able to recover. Sadly, some were not.
- Accidental Data Deletion - We’ve all been there. You’re cleaning up emails or files and you are doing such a GREAT job. Next thing you know, you’ve accidentally deleted the wrong files in your efforts at being efficient. When you have a good data backup system, it becomes relatively simple to extract and restore your information.
- Computer Theft - Unfortunately, this happens all too often, and it’s a common reason why most companies insist on encrypting data on cell phones, laptops, and all other devices. Unfortunately, if your data only exists on a single device, without a backup, then you may lose critical information. Thieves love to target computers and electronics because of their high resale value. Unfortunately, that also makes your company’s assets a target. If your employees travel for business, you are even more of a target.
- Coffee Spills - We all have our momentary lapses of judgement. Chances are, your employees aren’t going to be using the CD drive as an extra fancy coffee cup holder, but the risk of coffee, soda and other beverage spills is very real when there are real people working. Accidents happen, but they don’t have to mean that you’ll lose critical data when they do.
- Fire Accidents and Explosions - Fire and explosions don’t happen too often, but when they do, they are catastrophic. We recently experienced a major fire in Raleigh that affected many buildings and businesses in the downtown area. Unfortunately, the heat from a fire frequently will destroy any data on a hard disk, meaning that if you have your data backups on site you could be losing all of your backups.
So, what is a backup?
Backing up your data, is, at the most basic level, when you make copies (backups) of your business data. There are a number of ways you can create backups: you can make copies on your desktop, upload to the cloud, save to an external hard drive, and more. The details of backing up data is where the complexity arises.
You have to make some decisions about your business with regards to backups: cost, how long data is unavailable, how much data you are willing to tolerate losing in the case of a disaster, what data is necessary to backup, etc.
Here are some basic decisions you have to make about backups:
- Do you want on-site or off-site backups? If you have onsite backups, recovery can be faster and backups can be very inexpensive. If you are relying on offsite backups, then the cost of backups will rise, but you will have more security in cases of things like fires and natural disasters.
- Do you want physical, cloud, or a hybrid? In other words, do you wish to have external hard drives or servers, do you want to automatically back your data up to the cloud, or a combination of both? Check out the 3:2:1 back up rule
- How fast do you want to be able to access your data?
- How long do you want to store your data? Some industries require you to store data anywhere from 3 to 18 (or more) years. If you are storing data for many years, you will need to have a plan in place to store that data. And you’ll want to make sure that it is protected and stored in a climate controlled environment.
Most businesses need a plan for unexpected situations because, unfortunately, those situations are likely to arise. By being diligent about backing up your data, and keeping proper copies, you will ensure that you are covered in almost any event. And you’ll keep yourself in business and remain profitable.
Want to learn more? Let us help you develop a backup strategy or click here to learn more about our cybersecurity services.