If your data is important to your business and you cannot afford to have your operations halted for days – even weeks – due to data loss or corruption, then you need to read this report and act on the information shared. This report will outline the most commonly made, costly mistakes that most small business owners make with their data backups.
- What remote, offsite, or managed backups are, and why EVERY business should have them in place.
- 7 critical characteristics you should absolutely demand from any remote backup service; do NOT trust your data to anyone who does not meet these criteria.
- Where tape backups fail and give you a false sense of security.
- Frightening trends, cases, and questions every business owner should know and consider regarding data security.
- The single most important thing to look for in a remote backup service provider.
Have you ever lost an hour of work on your computer?
Now imagine if you lost days or weeks of work – or imagine losing your client database, financial records, and all of the work files your company has ever produced or compiled.
Imagine what would happen if your network went down for days and you couldn’t access e-mail or the information on your PC. How devastating would that be?
Or, what if a major storm, flood, or fire destroyed your office and all of your files? Or if a virus wiped out your server…do you have an emergency recovery plan in place that you feel confident in?
How quickly do you think you could recover, if at all?
If you do not have good answers to the above questions or a rock-solid disaster recovery plan in place, you are quite literally playing Russian roulette with your business. With the number of threats constantly growing, it’s not a matter of if you will have a problem, but rather a matter of when.
But That Could Never Happen To Me!
(And Other Lies Business Owners Like To Believe About Their Businesses…)
After many years working with small and mid-size businesses in the NY/NJ area, we found that 6 out of 10 businesses will experience some type of major network or technology disaster that will end up costing them between $9,000 and $60,000 in repairs and restoration costs on average.
That doesn’t even include lost productivity, sales, and client goodwill that can be damaged when a company can’t operate or fulfill on its promises due to technical problems.
While it may be difficult to determine the actual financial impact data loss would have on your business, you can’t deny the fact that it would have a major negative effect.
“But I Already Back Up My Data,” You Say…
If you are like most business owners, you’ve been smart enough to set up a tape backup. But know this:
The average failure rate for a tape backup is 100% – ALL tape backups fail at some point in time.
Incredible, isn’t it? Most people don’t realize that ALL tape drives fail. But what’s really dangerous is that most companies don’t realize it happened until it’s too late.
That’s why history is riddled with stories of companies losing millions of dollars worth of data. In almost every case, these businesses had some type of backup system in place, but were sickened to find out it wasn’t working when they needed it most.
While you should maintain a local backup of your data, a tape backup will NOT offer you protection if…
- Your tape drive malfunctions rendering it useless and making it impossible to restore your data. IMPORTANT: It is very common for a tape drive to malfunction without giving any warning signs.
- Your office (and everything in it) gets destroyed by a fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, or other natural disaster.
- The physical tapes you are backing your data up to become corrupted due to heat or mishandling.
- A virus spoils the data stored on the tape drive. Some of the more aggressive viruses not only corrupt the data, but they don’t allow anyone to access the data on the drive.
- Someone in your office accidentally formats the tape, erasing everything on it.
- Theft – a disgruntled employee intentionally erases everything, or a thief breaks in and steals ALL of your equipment.
- A faulty sprinkler system “waters” all of your electronic equipment.
Bottom line: You do NOT want to find out your backup was not working when you need it most.
Frightening Trends, Cases, and Questions You Should Consider:
- Tape drives fail on average at 100%; that means ALL tape drives fail at some point and do NOT offer complete protection for your data if a natural disaster, fire, or terrorist attack destroys your office and everything in it. Business owners who were hit by hurricanes like Katrina learned a hard lesson about keeping remote backups of their data.
- 93% of companies that lost their data for 10 days or more filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster, and 50% filed for bankruptcy immediately. (Source: National Archives & Records Administration in Washington.)
- 20% of small to medium businesses will suffer a major disaster causing loss of critical data every 5 years. (Source: Richmond House Group)
- This year, 40% of small to medium businesses that manage their own network and use the Internet for more than e-mail will have their network accessed by a hacker, and more than 50% won’t even know they were attacked. (Source: Gartner Group)
- About 70% of business people have experienced (or will experience) data loss due to accidental deletion, disk or system failure, viruses, fire or some other disaster (Source: Carbonite, an online backup service)
- The first reaction of employees who lose their data is to try to recover the lost data themselves by using recovery software or either restarting or unplugging their computer — steps that can make later data recovery impossible. (Source: 2005 global survey by Minneapolis-based Ontrack Data Recovery)
Remote Backups: What They Are And Why EVERY Business Should Have Them In Place
The ONLY way to completely protect your data and guarantee that you could restore it all after a major disaster is by maintaining an up-to-date copy of your data offsite in a high-security facility.
Remote backups, also called offsite backups, online backups, or managed backups, is a service that allows you to maintain a secure copy of your data in a different location than your office.
Usually this type of backup is done automatically via the Internet after hours to a high-security facility. There is no question that every business owner should have an offsite copy of their data; however, there ARE big differences among remote backup services and it’s critical that you choose a good provider or you could end up paying a lot of money only to discover that recovering your data – the very reason why you set up remote backups in the first place – is not an easy, fast, or simple job.
7 Critical Characteristics to Demand from Your Remote Backup Service
The biggest danger businesses have with remote backup services is lack of knowledge in what to look for.
There are literally hundreds of companies offering this service because they see it as an easy way to make a quick buck. But not all service providers are created equal and you absolutely want to make sure you choose a good, reliable vendor or you’ll get burned with hidden fees, unexpected “gotchas,” or with the horrible discovery that your data wasn’t actually backed up properly, leaving you high and dry when you need it most.
If your remote backup provider doesn’t meet all 7 of these points, then you’d be crazy to trust them to store your data:
- Military-level security, data transfer, and data storage. This is fairly obvious; you want to make sure the company housing your data is actually secure. After all, we are talking about your financial information, client data, and other sensitive information about your company. Never trust your data to anyone that doesn’t have the following security measures in place:
- Ask your service provider if they are HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, Gram-Leach-Bliley, and SEC NASD compliant. These are government regulations that dictate how organizations with highly sensitive data (like banks and doctor’s offices) handle, store, and transfer their data. If you are a medical or financial institution, you are required by law to work only with vendors who meet these stringent requirements. But even if you are NOT an organization that falls under one of these regulations, you still want to choose a provider who is because it’s a good sign that they have high-level security measures in place.
- Make sure the physical location where the data is stored is secure. Ask your service provider if they have an ID system, video surveillance, and some type of card key system to allow only authorized personnel to enter the site.
- Make sure the data transfer is encrypted with SSL protocols to prevent a hacker from accessing the data while it’s being transferred.
- Multiple data centers that are geographically dispersed. Anyone versed in data security knows the best way to avoid loss is to build redundancy into your operations. All that means is that your remote backup service should store multiple copies of your data in more than one location. That way, if a terrorist attack or natural disaster destroys one of their locations, they have backups of your backup in a different city where the disaster did not strike.
- Demand the ability to receive overnight copies of your data on DVD or some other data storage device. If your entire network gets wiped out, you do NOT want Internet download to be your only option for recovering the data because it could take days or weeks. Therefore, you should only work with a remote backup provider that will provide overnight copies of your data via some physical storage device.
- On that same token, ask your service provider if you have the option of having your initial backup performed through hard copy. Again, trying to transfer that amount of data online could take days or weeks. If you have a large amount of data to backup, it would be faster and more convenient to send it to them on DVD.
- Make sure your data can be restored to a different computer than the one it was backed up from. Amazingly, some backups can only be restored to the same computer they came from. If the original computer was burned in a fire, stolen, or destroyed in a flood, you’re left without a backup.
- Demand daily status reports of your backup. All backup services should send you a daily e-mail to verify if your backup actually ran AND to report failures or problems. The more professional providers should also allow you to notify more than one person (like a technician or your IT person) in addition to yourself.
Demand help from a qualified technician. Many online backup services are “self-serve.” This allows them to provide a cheaper service to you. BUT if you don’t set your system to back up correctly, the money you will save will be insignificant compared to the losses you’ll suffer. At the very least, ask your service provider to walk you through the steps on the phone or to check your settings to make sure you did the setup properly.
The Single Most Important Thing To Look For When Choosing a Remote Backup Service Provider
While the above checks are important, one of the most critical characteristics – and one that is often overlooked — is finding a company that will do regular test restores to check your backup and make sure the data is able to be recovered.
You do not want to wait until your data has been wiped out to test your backup; yet that is exactly what most people do – and they pay for it dearly.
If your data is very sensitive and you cannot afford to lose it, then test restores should be done monthly. If your situation is a little less critical, then quarterly test restores are sufficient.
Any number of things can cause your backup to become corrupt. By testing it monthly, you’ll sleep a lot easier at night knowing you have a good, solid copy of your data available in the event of an unforeseen disaster or emergency.
Scary But True Facts About Data Loss
- The average failure rate of disk and tape drives is 100% – ALL DRIVES WILL EVENTUALLY FAIL.
- Only 34% of companies test their tape backups and, of those who do, 77% have found failures.
- 60% of companies that lose their data will go out of business within 6 months of the disaster.
- Over ½ of critical corporate data resides on unprotected PC desktops and laptops.
- Key causes for data loss are:
- 78% Hardware or system malfunction
- 11% Human error
- 7% Software corruption or program malfunction
- 2% Computer viruses
- 1% Natural disasters
- 1% Other
- Only 25% of users frequently back up their files, yet 85% of those same users say they are very concerned about losing important digital data.
- More than 22% said backing up their PCs was on their to-do list, but they seldom do it.
- 30% of companies report that they still do not have a disaster recovery program in place, and 2 out of 3 feel their data backup and disaster recovery plans have significant vulnerabilities.
- 1 in 25 notebooks are stolen, broken or destroyed each year.
- Today’s hard drives store 500 times the data stored on the drives of a decade ago. This increased capacity amplifies the impact of data loss, making mechanical precision more critical.
- You have a 30% chance of having a corrupted file within a one-year time frame.