Could your business survive catastrophic data loss?
Disasters don’t just happen to other people. That’s why your business is probably insured against threats such as fire, flood and theft. The insurance payout might help replace your lost computers, but what about the precious data they held? Would that information be lost forever?
Could your business get back on its feet without it?
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Stop for a minute to think about everything which is stored on your computers. Financial records? Purchase orders? Inventory lists? Project files? Customer databases? Email archives?
Now imagine you lost it all in a heartbeat. It’s not really that hard to imagine. Anything from a burglary to a burst water main could see you lose the lot, not to mention a virus, power surge, hardware failure, disgruntled employee or just plain old human error. If any of these digital disasters could put you out of business, then you need a reliable backup system. Now. Think of it as a digital insurance policy.
Even the smallest of businesses needs to back up its precious data, but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You need to spend a little time thinking about which data is most important, figuring out where it’s stored and then deciding the best way to protect it.
Your backup system might be as simple as regularly copying your My Documents folder to a USB drive, or perhaps an in-house server, but if that’s the case you’re not really protected against all the risks.
For starters, some of your important data probably isn’t stored in your My Documents folder –such as your email, contacts and calendars not to mention databases from specialist software such as your accounting package. It’s important to familiarise yourself with how to back up this data and how to restore it should disaster strike.
Keep in mind that any disaster which claims your computer will probably claim the USB drive sitting on your desk or the server out the back. A fire which races through your office isn’t going to burn around your backups, is it? To really be protected you need offsite copies of your data, somewhere safe but easy to access when you need it.
For some businesses these offsite backups will be stored on tape, disc or hard drive, while others are turning to the convenience of the cloud. Each has its strengths and weaknesses and you might even use a combination of solutions.
One of the most important considerations is how often you need to back up your data. Can you afford to lose an hour’s work? How about a day, a week or a month? What would it cost you, not just in lost productivity but perhaps also in lost customers? If you let them down because you weren’t prepared for a disaster, will they trust you again? An insurance payout won’t mend your tattered reputation.
Once you’ve considered all this you can calculate the true potential cost of a digital disaster to your business. When you know what’s at stake, you’ll know how much you can afford to spend on your digital insurance policy.
David Hancock is the founder and managing director of national on-site computer repair and support company, Geeks2U. Founded in 2005 and with a team now over 300 strong, Geeks2U is one of the biggest Australian businesses of its kind.