For businesses of all sizes, the data they store is their business. Many modern businesses exist solely to analyze, publish, and otherwise work with data. The service economy is a data economy. Organizations that don’t simply move data around — manufacturing companies for example — depend on data for sales, for sales design, for production.
If a company loses customer records, sales information, payroll data, operational metrics, marketing analytics, and the data that constitutes their website, its businesses would have a hard time recovering — many businesses that suffer catastrophic losses don’t ever recover. Consider how much of a setback it would be if your business lost a substantial part of its data, and then consider if your current backup plans are in-line with the potential loss.
Anyone who works in the data center or hosting industry would consider the above paragraphs so obvious that they didn’t need to be written. The same is not true of many small and medium business. I’ve encountered no end of small and medium businesses which have backup and business continuity plans completely out of proportion with the value of their data and the risks it faces. Backing up your desktop PCs to a hard drive in a closet in the same office isn’t a backup at all. Downloading your “backup” onto a thumb drive and taking it home every week is a little better, but it’s still not good enough.
The best solution is a comprehensive, up-to-date, offsite backup in a secure data center facility.
If you’re not convinced, let’s have a look at three classes of incident that could cause a catastrophic loss of data — and potentially the end of your company.
Natural disasters are rare enough that we don’t think of them as a potential risk, and common enough that we should. Floods, freak weather events, earthquakes, and so on are black swan events — we don’t expect them but when they happen the impact is enormous.
Offsite data centers — including the ones we use — are built in areas of climactic and geological stability to minimize the potential impact of natural disasters. It still could happen, but the risk is minimized.
Have you ever visited a large data center? If you did you’d see levels of security that look like something out of Mission Impossible. Cameras everywhere, round-the-clock guards, biometric identity checks to get into the building and more to get onto the data floor. Your business may offer that level of security, but I’ve seem plenty of small and medium businesses where a crowbar would be all it takes to breach their physical security. If someone steals your server hardware, there goes your data.
It’s not only physical security you have to worry about: data is hugely valuable to criminals. You can bet your bottom dollar that one day a hacker is going to come knocking. Perhaps a ransomware attack will hold your data hostage. Perhaps a hacker will steal your user data and embarrass your company. Perhaps your servers will be used to spread malware and spam. Any of these is a potential data loss scenario, and external backup and business protection vendors are better placed to keep your data safe in the event of a criminal attack.
When your systems are attacked and your data lost, whether your business survives or declines depends on how well you’re backed up. Lose your backups and you could be down for weeks. With good backups, recovery may take as little as a few hours.
User error is a significant cause of data loss. From the single essential file deleted by an overzealous employee, to a database hosed by a system administrator who wasn’t as careful as might be hoped, losses caused by incompetence, malice, or simply by a lack of attention for a few brief seconds, can be as serious as a natural disaster or an external attack.
Without adequate backups of your company’s data, it’s entirely possible that — when disaster strikes — you’ll be looking for a new job rather than running a quick data restore.