Someone recently drew my attention to a news article which stated that around 75% of Small and Medium enterprises are ill prepared for an IT failure due to a lack of adequate data backup and disaster recovery plans. Either data is not backed up at all, data is not backed up often enough, or not enough of the important data is backed up. Each of these scenarios will have the same end result – and often this is one that can have catastrophic consequences. Therefore it’s important to have a plan, and to make sure this plan does cover all of the important data you have. Despite the old adage that 88.8% of statistics are made up on the spot, 75% seemed an initially shocking number but after giving it some thought it’s perhaps not altogether surprising.
One needs discipline
What has matured into an SME today often started off as 1 or two people with a laptop trying to get an idea off the ground flying by the seat of their pants. As the business grows it can be easy to overlook the fact that some discipline needs to be found and procedures need to be put in place on a companywide scale rather than each individual having their own way of doing things. This internal discipline does not simply refer to the IT side but across the business as a whole. Ensuring that your data is safe in the event of an IT failure can often come under the umbrella of “boring IT support stuff” that no one particularly wants to get involved in, so it gets put on the to do list but never quite reaches the top. As many SMEs don’t have the luxury of dedicated IT resource then no one wants to take ownership of it, and let’s face it most people are able to find something better to do during their working day than concern themselves with this boring IT stuff.
However, the consequences of a disaster are very real. For a small business the loss of a server that is not backed up, or a Laptop that was left in a bar after one too many on a Friday night can be a major threat to the business.
So what are your options?
History has shown that the tactic of burying ones head in the sand and hoping something bad won’t happen has been proved to not be the best approach. Similarly, if you have an IT Support Company to help you, it is dangerous to make the assumption that because you have IT support that this problem is magically covered, as in many cases it is not.
As SMEs work in different ways it can difficult to find a one size fits all solution. For example 10 people working permanently in an office on Desktop PCs will have different needs to 10 Mobile users running around the country with Laptops. It is important to find a solution that is tailored to your business rather than the other way around. The good news is that there is help available to save you some of the worry.
The advent of cloud based technologies has opened up the options available to help you with this.
Key applications such as email can if you wish be moved entirely to a cloud based system which immediately takes away the headache of data backup. You may also wish to consider moving to a fully hosted remote desktop solution.
If you don’t wish to join the stampede towards fully hosted systems and choose to maintain an on-site server then the cloud has given extra backup options from the traditionally fallible tape or external backup drive options. Entire servers can now be backed up securely to a cloud based platform with built in resilience. For those of you that are on the move all of the time with no central point to sync data back to, options such as Dropbox have become extremely popular. There are also utilities that can work in the background to securely and invisibly back your data to a cloud server without any need for the user to remember to keep backing up.
All in all there are options available to ensure that any data loss, either by hardware failure or a stray cup of coffee spilling on your laptop, is not a permanent one. If your data is valuable to you make sure you give it the protection it deserves.
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