Seven Deadly Sins Small Businesses Commit in Backup and Recovery, The

Seven Deadly Sins Small Businesses Commit in Backup and Recovery, The

Cramer, Bob

During the past few years, IT departments of large corporations have invested significant resources to make sure their company, and their data, can survive any interruption and quickly recover from any disaster. But what if your company doesn’t have significant IT resources to invest? Heck, your company might not even have an IT department! Therein lies the challenge for small businesses.

Because of limited resources, some small businesses are using less-than-optimal backup and recovery methods, and some are even dodging the issue altogether. By some estimates, more than half of U.S. businesses do not fully back up, or successfully recover, their data in the event of a failure. For small businesses, this can be devastating. Lost revenues, lost customers and a diminished reputation directly affect the bottom line of any company, especially a small business that’s fighting to compete among the big fish.

It’s time for small businesses to examine their backup and recovery practices. Is your company doing it right? In my experience, I’ve seen “Seven Deadly Sins Small Businesses Commit in Backup and Recovery.”

Sin #1: I don’t have enough data to warrant a full backup and recovery system.

Thou shalt protect thy data! Too often, backup is not perceived as a strategic, value-added activity for small businesses. As a result, critical data is left at risk. Every business, regardless of size, needs a data protection strategy to ensure business continuity. By nature, small businesses may not have as much data as large enterprises, but critical business data is critical business data. Something as minor, and as inevitable, as a virus, power outage or human error, can be even more disastrous to a small business, relatively speaking, than to a large enterprise.

Sin #2: I don’t have a budget for backup and recovery.

How can you do backup and recovery without throwing too many coins in the coffer? Research shows that most small businesses spend money on tape-based backup, only to discover the tape was defective or the process was incomplete, when they need to restore. It’s a “penny wise, pound foolish” approach. To minimize cost, small businesses also routinely overlook getting data securely off-site. I’ve heard of tapes stored in office drawers or the back seat of a car! Traditional off-site tape vaulting is expensive and requires time-consuming physical tape removal and transportation to an off-site facility, making this type of service only cost effective for large corporations.

Sin #3: I don’t have time for backup and recovery.

Are you tempted to save time by skimping on your backups? Many companies only back up their data on a nightly or weekly basis. This leaves a large window of vulnerability where critical data can be lost.

Sin #4: Tape is good enough.

Did you know that up to 50 percent of tape-based backups fail? Most small businesses do not have the IT resources to consistently and reliably handle tape management and off-site storage.

Sin #5: Outsourcing is for large companies. I can just do it myself.

Coveting thy neighbor’s backup capabilities? Many large companies have the luxury of outsourcing their backup and recovery so they can focus on managing their business, rather than backing up data. Historically, this type of service has been unavailable or too expensive for small businesses.

Sin #6: I don’t test my recovery.

So you back up, but you don’t make sure that you can recover your data? You may be praying that you did. Backup is useless if your recovery fails. Testing tape-based recovery can be time-consuming, and most companies rarely do it.

Sin #7: It won’t happen to me.

Think your business won’t be affected by a system failure? Do your investors know your business is running on faith alone? Natural and manmade disasters are not predictable, but they are inevitable. Critical data loss can result from a variety of causes including human error, computer virus, hardware or software system failure, power disruption, fire or natural disaster. Imagine losing your organization’s priceless server data-customer records, financial systems, business documents, e-mail system. Where would your business be if you lost any one of these?

Your prayers have been answered. Thank heaven there are simple, low-cost ways to absolve these sins.

Small businesses should consider online backup and recovery from a managed service provider. Managed service providers are experts in backup and recovery and can do it better, and often at a lower price, than companies can do it themselves. Some providers offer continuous online backup so your data is always protected, as it’s created or changed, always current and available. Some even guarantee recovery.

The online backup and recovery alternative eliminates the expense of staffing, scheduling and buying tapes for backup. Instead of driving tapes off-site, your data will be automatically vaulted at a secure data center far from any disaster that might affect your office. Look for a service that is professionally monitored around-the-clock, but lets you maintain ultimate control through a simple Web user interface where you can adjust policies or initiate a restore at any time, from anywhere.

Clearly, the burden of backup and recovery can strain businesses that have limited or no dedicated IT support. Traditional backup is labor intensive, costly and does not fit the parameters of a small business environment. Despite these challenges, small businesses need to commit to protecting their data. It’s a matter of life or death!

Bob Cramer

Bob Cramer is CEO of LiveVault Corp. LiveVault provides fully managed online backup and recovery services for small to medium sized businesses.

Copyright Publications & Communications, Inc. Jan 2004

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