Data Protection is Critical: Lessons Learned

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Carbonite. All opinions are 100% mine.

Whether you are a solopreneur or the owner of a 100-employee company, you can’t underestimate the importance of data protection in your business.  I know what I’m talking about because I have been-there-done-that.

Read on, and you’ll see why losing your data sucks – big time.

Frustrated online business owner

My data horror story

I’ve run an online business since 2008.  Since then, I’ve experienced numerous ups and downs with my business, and part of the cause is related to data.

You see, I own dozens of business websites.  Managing them is quite a headache.  Sure, I have all the help I need from the three freelancers working for me.  But still, I’m on the search for a website manager who understands how to manage the backend of my sites – and makes sure that everything runs like well-oiled machines.

Unfortunately, finding the right person is quite challenging.  It’s not about skills; it’s about trust.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I’m still ‘playing’ the role of a webmaster.  So, not only strategizing for my online business, but I also need to deal with my websites’ backend – managing hostings, domain registrations, software updates, and so on. As if those are not challenging enough, there are occasional cyber attacks aimed at my sites.

I know I have too much on my hands. That’s why I always try to delegate some responsibilities – mainly over to systems, rather than humans.  It’s far from perfect, but I can say that I have a good sleep at night, not to worry about the server woes and so on.

Things are not this ‘peaceful’ in the past, however.

My horror story began as my business started to grow at scale.  From one site, I ended up establishing five.  That means I have to deal with five times the headache; I have to manage the data, content and everything else in between for those five sites.

Then one of my sites was crashed. Then another.  Then another.

I didn’t know why it happened. I contacted my hosting provider, and what they can say was that my hosting accounts are compromised.  They became some of many victims of widespread attacks on sites hosted on WordPress (all of my sites are using WordPress as a CMS.)

It’s not as deadly as DdoS attacks, but still, the aftermath is quite devastating.  My sites were inaccessible.

But the worse is yet to come.  As I worked with my hosting provider to solve the issue, my hosting provider told me something that felt like a bomb hit me: My websites’ data was gone.  All gone.  Thanks to the hack attack.

The worst part is, I don’t have the backup. None. Nada. Zilch. Zip.  This is the biggest mistake in my online entrepreneurship career.

My hosting provider says that they can restore the backup from last month’s data, but that means I lose weeks of data.  As I worked with clients’ advertising needs in the form of content, those got lost too.

I got complaints from my clients. I lost advertising income on the sites (AdSense was the primary source of income at that time.) I lost Google Search ranking (sites that were inactive for weeks will hurt their search engine ranking, regardless of the inactivity causes.)

I practically lose thousands of dollar in income – not mentioning the lost of trust from clients – and recovering from the hack takes months.

Lessons learned

Business continuity is paramount, especially when you’re dealing with the Internet.  You need to have data backup and protection plan in place.

Things can go wrong in a snap.  Without proper data protection, you’re in for a huge surprise. An unpleasant surprise, that is.

What did I do to recover?

Gathering myself from the devastating event, I learned the hard way that prevention is the best thing I can do when it comes to my data security.  I decided to use backup systems.  Here’s what I did:

Local data backup

I backup my websites’ data locally in my laptop. It’s a manual process and I do it regularly every other month.

Automated data backup

I backup my websites using a cron job – the website’s data is backed-up automatically, and store the data in my hosting accounts.

I know those are far from perfect, but sufficient enough to prevent significant data loss.

What do I do today?

Throughout the years, I keep improving my data protection plan, which now includes:

Using managed services

It can be expensive, but if we can’t access the right resource (e.g. Hiring a website manager,) using managed services is the way to go. I signed up with hosting service providers that will manage my sites’ backend for me.  It’s their job to backup my data, thwart cyber attacks and ensure that my uptime is up to par with their SLA.

Using online backup and storage services

I currently use two online backup services for all of my data, both personal and business data.  One has the role as the backup for everything, and the other one has the role as the storage.  Yes, there are slight differences between backup and storage, but I choose to adopt both.

I understand that while redundancy is not ideal, it’s the best way to go in my case.

A focus on data backup

In the past few years, my focus has always been data backup.  That said, I always look for better solutions.

Recently, I try online backup solutions provided by Carbonite.  Beyond online storage, Carbonite’s backup and recovery plans offer 24/7 protection – which I really need for my business websites.

Carbonite homepage

You can give Carbonite a try – free for 30 days. I’d suggest you to sign up, try all the features and see whether those can make a difference.  Hint: It’s disruptive – in a good way!

Takeaway

In entrepreneurship, you’ll fail.  A lot.  However, you need to make sure that you learn from them.  This also holds true when it comes to data loss.  It can happen to anyone, but you need to respond in the right way.  Learn from these small business stories and see how you can implement what you’ve learned in your business.

Data loss can be avoided if you adopt the right data protection strategies and tools.  Ensure your business continuity by focusing on data security. It’s a must-do, especially when you’re relying on the Internet for doing your business activities.

So, protect your data. Your business survivability depends on it. Seriously.

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