The Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins on June 1st. But even if you don’t live along the East or Gulf Coasts, a significant outbreak of severe weather that swept through the Mountain West, Great Plains, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast just before Memorial Day brings one fact into sharp focus: businesses big and small must be prepared with backup and disaster preparedness solutions that protect data, systems, and employees.
From tornadoes in Georgia to North Carolina to supercell thunderstorms in Texas and Oklahoma to debilitating landslides in California to flash floods in Kentucky to softball-sized hail in Missouri, Pennsylvania, and New York, the threat is real as spring gives way to summer. That’s why concerns about data backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity become much more critical this time of year. Consider the numbers:
- The Small Business Administration estimates that nearly 75% of businesses don’t have a reliable disaster recovery plan, while more than 80% don’t have natural disaster insurance and 70% don’t have access to a backup generator.
- The Bureau of Labor reports that 20% of businesses experience a natural disaster-related disaster—and that 80% of those businesses will go under within two years. Insurance underwriters also estimate that less than 10% of medium-sized companies that suffer catastrophic data loss ever recover, while 40% never reopen, and upwards of 50% close within two years of the disaster.
- Hurricane Sandy, which devastated parts of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut in 2012, led to an estimated $20 billion in lost economic activity, not to mention the millions of homes and lives directly affected.
- In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, a survey of 100 small business owners in the New York Tri-State area conducted by Wakefield Research found that more than 65% had still not created a disaster plan—and that another 65% were not backing up all of their business data.
- The survey also revealed that 75% of small businesses back up their data electronically, but of those, 60% used disaster-vulnerable on-site technology such as external hard drives and servers.
- More than 50% of all small business owners have not designated an alternative location to operate from in case their workplace is impacted by a disaster.
- Business surveys indicate that nearly 95% of PCs are not adequately backed up.
- Research by industry-leading firm Forrester finds that 60% of businesses have relied upon their disaster recovery plan in the last five years.
Now, the hard questions: does your business reliably and regularly back up its data to a remote location? Do you have a detailed disaster recovery plan in place in case catastrophe strikes? Has it been tested in the last 12 months?
Many businesses, big and small, thriving and struggling, believe that natural disasters simply won’t happen to them. But even if you live in a place not prone to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes, consider this most important statistic of all: in CMIT Solutions’ experience, more than 65% of all data disasters occur because of hardware failure, software failure, or human error, including the many ransomware attacks that continue to dominate the news—in other words, manmade disasters not natural ones. This means backup and disaster recovery solutions can cover much more than hurricanes, fires, floods, or earthquakes, protecting your business and its data no matter what.
Below, we’ve collected our top four strategies for giving your business the protection it deserves:
1) Regular, remote, redundant, and encrypted data backups are a must. The vast majority of business backups are done on-site—often on drives located directly next to the computers they’re backing up. If a fire, flood, theft, or cyberattack affects your business, those backups will most likely be destroyed, too. Remote, secure data backups can protect your critical business information in dedicated locations that are frequently audited to assure top-level security and compliance with national standards.
2) Draw up risk assessments and disaster recovery plans that lay out a plan to survive data loss or business interruption. Instead of getting bogged down in the details of a particular disruption, comprehensive disaster recovery planning should address the steps necessary to get your business up and running, no matter the event. Properly measured “recovery points” (how frequently your data is backed up) and “recovery times” (how quickly information needs to be backed up and running after a data loss) are crucial steps toward post-disaster success.
3) Create a business continuity plan to resume operations after data is recovered. Many business owners think that, even if a disaster strikes, they’ll only be affected for a few days. This is one of the most indirectly harmful assumptions one can make—take Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Sandy for instance, both of which knocked more than 50% of the small companies in their paths out of business permanently. Those that were able to maintain operations in the face of significant challenges were the ones that saw their reputations strengthened in the wake of those devastating storms.
4) Implement (and test!) a virtualization strategy before disaster strikes. This touches on the “recovery time” point made above: depending on how quickly you need your data to be recovered, you should have a virtualization plan in place that can rebuild files on existing or secondary equipment in case of disaster. But if you haven’t tested your solution to see how quickly it can retrieve information, you could suffer. Top-tier offerings like CMIT Guardian can perform a full restore in less than 48 hours—and those hours can mean the difference between weathering a storm and succumbing to it.
And that’s what CMIT Solutions specializes in: protecting your data, restoring it when needed, and helping your business get back up and running, no matter what happens. We specialize in backup and disaster recovery solutions that can help businesses of all sizes prepare for and survive even the most unlikely disasters. In the last few years, CMIT Guardian has protected scores of companies from hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and ice storms, along with the day-to-day perils of human error and hardware failure. As fellow business owners ourselves, there’s no greater satisfaction than helping our clients overcome such obstacles. Contact us today to learn more.