Small business owners have a lot to contend with. Owning a small business means wearing a lot of hats, and some of them might require skill sets you didn’t have before starting your business. Most of us, for example, don’t have extensive experience with bookkeeping or marketing even though those become our responsibility when we open a business.
One thing that often falls through the cracks for small businesses is a solid backup and disaster recovery plan (BDR). This may seem like something you can put off, especially when you’re dealing with more immediate issues, but the reality is that establishing a good backup and disaster recovery plan is one of the most important things you can do to protect your small business.
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Why Does My Business Need a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan?
Data loss is one of the most significant events in the life of a business. We’ve written before about how 60% of companies go out of business within six months of a large data loss incident, and 72% of those companies will close within 24 months of the incident. These closures are the results of lost revenue, lost work time, and financial penalties—the all-to-common consequences of data loss.
According to TechRadar, downtime can cost small businesses between $10,000 to $50,000 per hour. And depending on the industry you belong to and the countries where you do business, regulatory committees can levy heavy fines for data loss. These effects can be long-lasting as well, with one study from Comparitech showing that companies that experienced data leaks continued underperforming by 15% even three years after the leak occurred.
Another consequence of data loss events is loss of consumer trust. In fact, a survey by Ping Identity shows that 78% of consumers stop engaging with a brand after it experiences a data leak. Over half of survey participants also said they would not use a brand that has experienced a data leak. So not only do businesses lose current customers after a data leak. They also struggle to gain new customers.
How Likely is a Data Loss Event?
Data loss events are surprisingly common. According to a study from the University of Maryland, a hacking attack occurs every 39 seconds. If that’s not frightening, consider that 49% of U.S. companies have experienced a data breach.
Some data loss events are the result of natural disasters that damage or cut off access to servers. A pair of earthquakes in 2011 hobbled 6,000 businesses in Christchurch, New Zealand. Although some businesses did have data backed up on external harddrives, much of the backup equipment located in the city was damaged. Disasters like this can take years to recover from and are a great example of why offsite storage is essential for a good backup and disaster recovery plan.
But the data loss events we usually think of are those conducted by hackers. These are cases where cybercriminals use methods like phishing or malware to gain access to protected data. Hackers can then sell the data, use it to access more information, or hold a network hostage. These attacks are a special type of data loss known as a data breach.
The rate of data breaches increased dramatically during 2020 when lots of white collar employees began working from home. However, these attacks were already becoming more common, with organized hacking groups working to target government agencies and large corporations. But small businesses are common targets, too. Sadly, they are also less likely to survive these data breaches.
What Should I Look for in a Good Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan?
Every business is different, and so every business’ needs are different. But there are few strategies that can help any business build a better recovery plan. Here are six top tips for building yours.
- Automate your backups. Automating backups ensures you never forget to save your more important data. Automated backups also make it easy to backup more frequently, meaning in the event of a disaster, you will lose substantially less data.
- Use offsite backup. I mentioned the twin earthquakes that struck New Zealand in 2011. Many businesses there thought that backing up to an external hard drive was enough protection, but offsite backup is a much better strategy. As the effects of climate change continue to be felt, scientists predict bigger and more regular natural disasters, so businesses in affected areas should be especially careful about choosing offsite data storage.
- Backup often. An increasing number of businesses are backing up their data. However, many businesses actually backup data less than once per day. Remember, the less frequently you backup data, the larger the amount of data you will lose and the longer it will take to return to normal operating procedures. It’s recommended by many experts that small businesses back up at least once daily, but more often if possible.
- Take data protection seriously. Use multiple strategies to protect your network. The most effective cybersecurity plans are built from different strategies layered over each other. Classic protections like firewalls and antimalware software are important, but so are more sophisticated concepts like endpoint security, 2fa, and zero-trust architecture.
- Train your employees to protect your data. Uninformed (or misinformed) employees are a serious liability to employers. Half of employees have made cybersecurity mistakes, and a full 62% admit they don’t fully understand their employers’ cybersecurity needs. But evidence shows that training employees helps protect your data.
- Maintain your network. Keeping networks up-to-date is important. It helps prevent glitches and bugs that can cause downtime. However, OS updates and patches can also cause unexpected errors. Don’t let updates pile up. Test them carefully and deploy updates quickly. These updates often contain important security fixes that are important for keeping out hackers.
How do I Get Started Building a Recovery Plan for My Business?
The first step to building an effective recovery plan is to evaluate your business so you know what you need from your recovery plan. Then you can make informed decisions about the kinds of backup services that will work best for you.
Many business owners also find it helpful to consult with experts. Their experience can be invaluable for protecting your business, especially if you operate in an industry with many rules for data storage and protection, such as healthcare or financial service sectors.
If you’re looking for help building the right backup and disaster recovery plan for your business, contact TracSoft. We understand how to craft data backup plans to be fast, secure, and effective. That’s because along with being data backup experts, we also understand network architecture and network security. With our system restore plans, our clients can be operational again within 30 minutes of a data loss event.
Call TracSoft today for a free, no obligation security consultation. Find out how TracSoft can keep your business running.