Size doesn’t matter – no matter how small your business, data security is the friend you can’t afford not to have.
In fact, the smaller your business, the more you need data security. A big business will likely have the resources to recover, but a small business probably won’t.
Of course, cost is the big issue here. Small companies often think data protection is a nice-to-have but is not as important as all the other things essential to running the business.
However, not only is the cost of data protection less than people often think, costs really have dropped in recent times. But the cost of recovering lost data (assuming it can be recovered) can run into thousands of dollars.
Most small business owners and managers know enough to keep sensitive data safe from hackers these days, but they often don’t think to put in the necessary data security systems to protect their data in the event of a hard drive or computer failure.
The simplest and easiest way to protect against such data loss is to back up regularly – both on-site and off-site. That means two backups.
But what about the cost? Computer Forensics‘ MD, Brian Eardley-Wilmot, has an answer. “The best way to protect your data is to back up locally, to a dedicated data storage server, and then to back up again, to the cloud. That way, you are backing up your backup. And the cloud backup need not be expensive either. Nowadays, you can do this for around $10 a month.”
“Cloud storage means if the worst happens and your system crashes, you can recover your data easily, even if the local infrastructure goes down and local backup is lost, as happened during the Christchurch earthquakes.”
Always remember though that the cloud is out of your control, and certainly not guaranteed. You should only use the cloud for secondary or tertiary backup – never primary.
Eardley-Wilmot even has a suggestion for micro-businesses – the flash drive backup. “It’s obviously not ideal, but it’s such a simple device, and it really is better than doing nothing at all, because time is money. But whatever backup method you use, the most important thing is you back up regularly, which means at least weekly. Be a little bit paranoid too and use a second memory stick – these devices can also fail.”
However, you shouldn’t just back up and forget, he adds. “Big companies do a check that they can get their data back in good time about once or twice a year. Small companies rarely do this at all. But if you can’t get your data back quickly it can badly affect your business.”
A disaster recovery plan should involve a trial run of a full outage and recovery of data, View it as a fire drill. That way you not only test your plan is working but also if you are spending too much – or too little – to ensure your data is properly protected.
If your system being down for a day means customers are likely to cancel or go to a rival then you need to ensure you can get it up and running quickly. But if it just means several hard days’ work to get back on track then you may not need to pay for a quicker recovery.
“It’s up to you to figure out what the point of diminishing return is. But the availability of ever-cheaper storage means being a little over-protected may not be too costly and will certainly buy you peace of mind,” says Eardley-Wilmot.