Any business quickly comes to understand that computer systems, however sophisticated, can still crash – and that disaster will always happen when you least expect it.
That makes data backup and recovery essential to the successful running of any organisation – but what are they, and why are they so important to smaller organisations in particular?
Perhaps the first point to understand is that they are not the same thing, although they are commonly confused:
This is the process of making an additional copy (or multiple copies) of key business data. It is a protection against accidental deletion, malware or other malicious intervention, database corruption or something going wrong with a software upgrade.
Proper data backup can also be invaluable for recovering copies of older files if they’ve been deleted from your system, perhaps inadvertently.
Disaster recovery is the process for re-establishing access to data, apps, and other critical IT resources in the event of an outage. It’s a document with detailed instructions for your organisation’s response to unplanned incidents, from natural disasters to power cuts, cyber-attacks and similar disruptive events.
One option, for example, might be to plan to switch to a different set of servers and storage systems until your main data centre is fully operational once again.
You need both data backup and a disaster recovery strategy because just having copies of all your data won’t keep your business running in the wake of a serious outage. A robust disaster recovery strategy ensures business continuity with minimal downtime and maximum productivity.
So the blunt reality is that you simply cannot afford to be without either.
You don’t need us to tell you how much your business needs its data. And one figure holds that between 40% and 60% of small businesses without a solid recovery plan and data backup strategy will not survive a major disaster.
As a small or medium-sized firm, you’re far more likely to be disproportionately affected by data loss or an unplanned-for disaster. Smaller organisations often don’t have the resources to plan for and survive catastrophes that larger businesses do, but here’s why you need an effective, regularly updated strategy in place:
1.) People are only human. Sometimes, even loyal staff can inadvertently be responsible for significant data losses. Mistakes which compromise data can and do happen. Backup solutions are needed as well as proper training.
2.) Your business can be harmed in multiple ways – from word-of-mouth reputational damage which, again, disproportionately affects smaller organisations, to losing both unhappy existing customers and wary prospective ones.
3.) The impact on staff can also be serious – from loss of morale to resignations to, in the worst-case scenario, having to let employees go because lost revenue means you can no longer afford to keep them on.
4.) Rapid data recovery is vital to the seamless continuity of business operations in the event of a catastrophe, whether malicious or what insurers call an Act of God. Outdated backup software can mean you spend days recovering data at great expense, which, as a smaller business, you may simply not be able to shoulder. Equally, without offsite or cloud-based backup, you could lose all your business data permanently.
5.) Sensitive data needs to be recoverable and protected if something goes wrong. That’s not just essential business but also the law. Britain has left the EU, and so the GDPR regulation on data protection no longer applies. However, its basic principles have been incorporated into UK law, so in practice little has changed. Fines of up to £17.5m can be imposed in the event of a serious data breach. Equally, the EU GDPR may still apply if your business operates within the European Economic Area (EEA).
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