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4 things Small & Medium Sized Businesses need to consider when creating a technology backup plan.

Minimize risk and keep prying eyes from reading your company data
25 November 2022
Backup Recovery Testing
4 January 2023
Your organization’s data is arguably the second most important asset behind your people. Customer lists, product designs, service quotes, marketing plans and a host of other data lives within your organization. Often an organization’s data is a competitive advantage and its cost, and value is hard to measure. Accessed at work on a desktop computer, on the go via a tablet or checking email late at night before going to sleep our data is all around us, but what would happen if that data was lost? What is the impact of a total data loss to your organization? Could you rebuild and recreate all your critical data? What would that cost? It would be rare to find large organizations that do not have a robust and routinely tested backup and recovery plan. But what about small and medium businesses? These organizations often overlook building a backup and recovery strategy and testing its effectiveness at regular intervals.

Small and medium businesses have a lot of shifting priorities. Strategizing of the sales presentation to land the next client, submitting payroll on time, answering the phone, and solving your client’s burning question. After a team puts out all the fires of the day there is not much time left to sit down as a time and craft a technology backup and recovery plan. Many small businesses don’t feel they will be affected by disaster and keep kicking the “tech backup can” down the road to be solved in the future, whenever that might be. Whether it’s a nature disaster such as a fire or flood, ransomware, or a rouge employee deleting vital fires, data can be lost, often for good.

There are several reasons why you want to consider a backup plan.

Loss of future business.

If your organization was to suffer a complete data loss such as a ransomware attach your clients may be hesitant to do business with you in the future. Would your clients feel nervous giving their credit card information when you have been hacked? If you are in the services business and you lost critical client documentation, how would that impact your clients? They may think twice about giving you future work if you were not able to deliver on current assignments due to lost data.

Your Reputation may be hit.

People talk and so do businesses. If word leaks out that you suffered a data breach, data loss or similar event it likely will be a time-consuming process to rebuild client trust. Customers are often sympathetic for a short time before that sentiment turns towards anger and negative feedback on social media and other platforms.

How much is your data worth?

Imagine your business has been in business for over ten years and the computer or server all your information was on just crashed! After investigation it is determined it is a total loss and nothing is retrievable. How much will it cost to rebuild everything? Not only that but how long will it take your staff to stop what they are doing and pull together and re-create all the critical documents and data. It wouldn’t be surprising if that price tag climbs into the five or six figure range.

Planning for disaster is the first step to ensure your business survives and then thrives once disaster strikes. The following are some actionable steps to help you and your organization ensure that if disaster comes the damage is minimized and your team can get back to work.

Expand the boundary of protection around your data

Organizations that don’t encrypt critical data leave themselves open to anyone who can gain access to a lost or stolen computer. Whether a criminal enters into your office and steals a machine or they find a laptop unattended in an airport, if your data isn't encrypted, you have little recourse. Full disk encryption can help thwart cybercriminals and add extra protection around your workflow.

1. Document Your Plan

Half the battle when disaster strikes is to craft a plan for what needs to happen, who is responsible for doing it and when it needs to happen. The plan does not need to fill a 3-inch binder, but it needs to clearly lay out objectives, roles and responsibilities and tasks including process documentation. Some items to consider if your backup planning documentation.
What is your key organizational data (Client proposals, Product specification sheets, Sales Quotes, Customer Service Best Practices, Financial Records)
Where is this information stored (Is this information on a server located in the office, perhaps the information is contained on Microsoft SharePoint or Google Drive.)
Document what data needs to be backed up, where the backup will be kept, how often and for how long. The different types of data out there seem infinite, and businesses clearly have certain data that is critical. As such, when crafting a backup plan attention should be spent on ranking data type by importance. A useful exercise is crafting a simple matrix where data types are listed and then a criticality measure be added to each item. As your team is crafting a backup plan extra care should be spend addressing the most pressing data types to ensure that information is safe in the event disaster strikes.

2. Automate Your Backups

Relying on yourself of another member of the team to take care of manual backups can lead to costly mistakes. If someone forgets to kick off the backup, o fails to notice the backup appliance is full or even worse not plugged in can be an expensive blunder. Modern technology is amazing, and automation is here to help, that extends to automated data backup. When crafting your backup and recovery plan where possible always consider automated backup solutions over manual processes.

3. Multiple copies in multiple places

Natural disasters happen and power outages can occur at the most inopportune times. Whatever the reason there are countless stories of organizations that were cut off from their data residing in their offices. Fire, flood, and other disasters can impact organizations and those diligent companies that kept a backup onsite still have a problem of how to access that data remotely. Modern backup tools allow for easy offsite backup to a host of cloud or secondary locations that ensure that in a disaster that your data is safely stored offsite.

4. Run a backup test.

A robust backup plan should include the step-by-step tasks that are needed to recover lost information. You do not want to be testing your restore process for the first time when you experience a data loss. Look to run a backup at least every quarter, ideally every month. The backup restoration process needs to prove that in the event that the data was lost the backup can be relied upon. Many modern backup tools provide visual confirmation that the various backups completed successfully and are validated in case they are needed.
Data is the lifeblood of an organization and it’s proper protection deserves planning and foresight. Like purchasing insurance, building a robust backup and recovery plan will give your organization peace of mind that in the event of a loss you are not starting from scratch. Crafting a backup plan does not need to cost thousands or take months to complete. Something is better then nothing and it can always be tweaked and improved as you continue your technology journey.
If you are looking for a technology partner who can assist with your backup and recovery planning start a conversation with our team today.

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