One of the most dangerous yet common mistakes business owners make is assuming “it will never happen to me”. However, there are only two types of people: those who have had a data loss and those who are about to. What would happen to your business if you had a major data loss? The possibility is definitely there; this can’t be denied. Data loss disasters come in many forms, ranging from simple human errors to “acts of God” that cannot be controlled. However, you can control how you prepare for them. Here are eight questions you can ask yourself to test your disaster preparedness. First: Do we back up our data? It’s amazing how many small businesses do not have a backup system in place. It’s so easy to assume disaster won’t strike you. But data loss doesn’t always come from huge, cinema-worthy disasters. They can result from simple everyday errors – yet have huge disastrous results. Don’t let this be you. Do we back up all of our account information? Many small businesses tend to keep their accounts data on one employee’s PC, instead of the network which is on their backup schedule. But what if you lose your customer database? Be sure it’s included in the files to be backed up. Do we back up our email files? Ever wish you had that one email from a few months back, in which a customer gave you the “go ahead” – but now they’re refusing to pay for your work? These days, email is increasingly used as legal evidence of agreements or notices to proceed. If they’re included in your backup, you can easily pull up even deleted emails – received or sent. Is our Calendar and Contact information backed up? What if you came to work one morning and your online calendar and address book was gone? What appointments and communications would you miss, and at what cost? Most of the time, by default your Outlook Contact and Calendar files are stored on the individual PCs. Make sure these files are included in your backup set. Do we back up folders and files from each computer? In addition to important information that is stored in shared networks, think about the files that each of your employees create and use on their own hard drives. Spreadsheets, letters, memos, databases – wouldn’t it be a shame to lose all that work? Are we always saving our files to an area that will be backed up? Consider where each and every file your work on is being saved. Will it be included in your backups? Develop policies and educate your employees on where to save their work so it’s included in your backup schedule. Do we back up data frequently enough? This answer to this question is – how much work are you willing to risk? Say you complete an important contract on Tuesday morning, and an employee accidentally deletes it that afternoon. But you only run backups on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Bye-bye contract! A more frequent backup schedule would have saved the day. Do we know where our backups are and how to use them? If you use USB drives, external hard drives, or backup tapes for your backups, are you storing them offsite in a safe place? Even if your files are backed up to the cloud, do you know how to recover them in case of an emergency? Knowing your backup system and keeping it safe will ensure you can get back to business quickly and efficiently. Even if you already have a backup system in place, take a few moments to think about your specific business. If the unthinkable happened, exactly what data would you need to get back up and running? What could you not operate without? Once you identify these things, simply make sure they are included in your backup. Need help? We’re experts in guiding small businesses in setting up a backup system that meets their unique needs. Give us a call today to discuss the options available to keep your business data safe and sound.
Erratic by nature, disasters (natural or man-made) can happen anywhere at any time, and often with little or no warning at all. Planning ahead is imperative to ensure that your business can get back to normal operation as quickly as possible, with minimal loss and damage. Small to medium-sized businesses usually think that disaster plans are only important for large enterprises. However, these days even small businesses can’t afford to operate without a disaster plan. Plus, recent technology innovations make disaster planning reasonably priced for virtually every business, regardless of size. For any business owner, three objectives exist for disaster planning: 1) the assurance of never losing critical information, 2) reducing downtime when emergencies happen, and 3) quick recovery after a loss of data. These three objectives translate into three IT services: Backups The process of protecting your data by copying it to a secure device so that it can be easily and and quickly recovered in case of loss. Disaster recovery The process of reinstating crucial business data and procedures after a disaster happens. Business Continuity A carefully constructed plan that specifies exactly how your company will recover and re-establish disrupted functions after disaster strikes. Of these three tasks, Business Continuity is the most comprehensive since it entails much more than a simple discussion of IT matters—it’s a thorough, systematic action plan. And though you definitely need to consider protecting your IT infrastructure and data, you must also consider what you and your staff should do if a disaster occurs. Is there a meeting place where your staff could gather in the event of a building evacuation? Do you have a plan to get in touch with all your staff and their emergency contacts to relay important information? Is there a way for you to communicate with customers to advise when you’ll resume operations? What will you do if one of your main dealers experiences a disaster? The significance of these three services should never be taken lightly, but unfortunately many small and medium-sized businesses ignore them. Why? Simply because when people think about disaster, the first things that pop in their minds are earthquakes, floods, and fires, and they figure there’s a low chance of those happening. But remember that there are also human-induced disasters such as hackers, unhappy employees who sabotage, and employees who thoughtlessly erase important data. Any of these could easily happen to you. You may already have a backup system in place, and perhaps, you have all three—backup, disaster recovery, and a business continuity plan. However, since business goals and technical environments constantly change, your plan requires regular assessment to ensure it’s still accomplishing all your needs. We can assist you in evaluating your existing disaster preparedness or suggest options if you don’t have plans yet. Contact us now for more details on how we can help you.