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Data Disasters: Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

Submitted by Tim Roper on Thursday, April 12, 2012

Recent tornadoes in Texas and the Midwest, along with other recent extreme weather events, remind us that catastrophic data loss is one of the most detrimental events that can happen to a small- or medium-sized business (SMB). According to the The Underwriting Guide for Insurers, only six percent of mid-size companies that suffer catastrophic data loss ever fully recover. Yes, you read that correctly—only six percent. Furthermore, 43% never reopen and 51% close within two years of the disaster.

hurricaneUnfortunately, data loss is a relatively common occurrence—hard drives die and even automated backups sometimes fail to archive every single file correctly. Data loss becomes catastrophic when a sizeable or vital set of data becomes unrecoverable.

When one considers the degree to which most SMBs rely on electronic data for their operations, one quickly understands how devastating consequences often arise in the wake of a disaster. A business might lose not only its customer database, but also sales records, payroll info, inventory numbers, and financials. That last item can damage far more than merely the health of a business. Imagine how the IRS might respond if you’ve lost all documentation for several years of business tax returns.

Safeguarding against data loss requires a two-pronged approach. First, you need to have an effective and automated backup system. Manual backups just won’t cut it. Inevitably, someone will forget to do it. Even if you remember, you still risk losing any data generated between then and the last time you performed the backup. It’s best to have a data-mirroring setup, which updates automatically and in real-time.

The second prong—one that a shocking number of businesses overlook—is having a reliable, effective, and tested disaster recovery (DR) plan in place. Merely having a backup copy of your data won’t do you much good if no one knows how to restore it to the server. An effective DR plan should include written procedures for restoring data that minimize the risk of corrupting the system any further.

The key to both safeguards, however, lies in having these measures in place before disaster strikes. Even the most reliable backup system won’t help you if you wait until after the fact to install it.

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