Data Recovery Tips for Small Businesses

How great it is to run a small business in the digital age!  Customer information and business data can be all stored and filed in one easy to access, central location – on-premises or off-premises.   But before you start trading out those filing cabinets for the cushy cloud, remember that data is not invincible, but it is recoverable.   

The digital landscape can be a scary place for many small businesses.  There are many ways a small business’s data infrastructure can come under attack or fail. Sometimes it might fail due to human interference, other times an act of nature.  In any case, it is safe to say that many of these situations are beyond our control without complex or expensive provisions.  

The safest data recovery plan is prevention.  However, in the event your networks do succumb to the wiles of Mother Nature or you suffer a loss at the hands of a skilled hacker, here are a few data recovery tips that can make the whole process less painful.

  1. Create a consistent data backup process and plan.  This includes a variety of steps:
    • Running regular periodic tests to verify backups systems are working correctly.
    • Where to back that data up. 
    • How far into the past backups need to go.  
    • Prioritizing what data needs to be backed up and how often. 
  2. Choose the correct back up hardware/software for your needs.  There are a lot of options out there to choose from, but not all of them offer the same kind of protection at the same costs.
  3. Keep hardware/software updated on a regular basis.  This includes scheduled hardware maintenance.  Backup hardware can be temperamental – for example, tape drives need to be cleaned on a regular basis.  Make sure you follow all operating procedures as prescribed by manufacturers. 
  4. Practice redundancy.  “Back up your backup.”  This can be a bit pricy for small businesses, but recovery expenses will overshadow this cost.
  5. Consider “bare-metal” backup options.  These systems allow you to recover your systems without having to totally rebuild your servers one step at a time.

All of these tips work together to store your own backups.  With today’s technologies, a lower-maintenance option is having your data backed-up offsite by a third party provider.  This can bring several benefits to your organization: less complexity, elimination of logistical overhead (e.g. who swaps out tapes, takes them offsite, etc.), more robust survivability and a faster resumption of business. You will have enough to worry about in case of an actual disaster, locating and restoring your critical business information is a distraction from other important business resumption tasks. 

Outsourcing data backups can be a great idea.  When choosing a managed data backup provider make certain they have a reputation for reliability and they are located far enough away as not to be affected by the same elements that caused your failure, e.g. flood, tornado, fire…etc.

You can never really know when or what will cause a data loss, but by thinking ahead you can make recovery that much easier. While you are working through planning and prevention, make certain you are also considering recovery.