For a business of any size, data storage and information handling are two of the most important aspects of operations in the modern commercial world.
For small businesses, these two elements can be even more vital. This is because the resources that are available to them on a day-to-day basis may be far more restricted than those of major corporate-level rivals.
Today, clients, customers, and consumers take the matter of data security extremely seriously. Recent studies have shown that breaches or leaks from a company of personal details it holds can be extremely damaging to its reputation and lead to customers moving away.
However, it isn’t just security leaks caused by malicious hackers that can be a problem – the task of protecting business data on a day-to-day basis can be a minefield that is full of potential dangers.
In the past, most businesses would have kept extensive filing systems full of printed documents, invoices, letters, and contracts.
In today’s world, almost every aspect of written commercial communications takes place in the digital realm. From emails through to social media posting and blog posts, the sheer amount of data and word count generated by even the smallest business can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, electronically stored information takes up far less physical space than its older paper counterpart, but the more ethereal nature means that it can also be easy to lose.
While a simple training program aimed at making sure members of staff back up data on a regular basis can be a great first step to avoiding problems further down the line, unfortunately there are many situations in which a simple copy on a RAID disc or backup server might not be enough.
A survey by the National Small Business Association (NSBA) in 2013 found that almost half (44 percent) of small businesses have been the victim of some kind of digital attack or hack attempt.
The NSBA also estimates that the average cyber-attack will cost a business $8,699.48, and for small businesses that had their bank details compromised, the average loss comes in at $6,927.50.
Plan for the worst
Even if you meticulously back up data and information to another machine or dedicated storage medium, a disaster on a large scale, such as flooding, storm damage or other major physical disruption event, can lay waste to everything.
Electrical surges can fry hard drives, water damage can wreck most electrical equipment, and a workplace that becomes unusable can mean that all copies of your data can be lost.
The list of potential causes of a catastrophic loss of data is long and covers everyday technology failures, weather-related events, and even man-made problems such as social unrest or plain theft.
The only way to be totally sure that your business could survive a devastating loss of data is to have a fully-fledged disaster recovery plan in place.
Although it might sound like a government program, continuity planning is a tried and tested method of ensuring that your business can recover quickly from the effects of even the most severe event.
Data backup and recovery plans for small businesses can be as simple as using off-site storage, whether that means a cloud based system or by having a secure location where you physically store your own chosen backup medium.
More specialized business continuity planning schemes can involve providing the four main elements needed for most businesses to get back up and running quickly. These include temporary office space, the supply of adequate power, setting up effective lines of communications across the necessary channels, and giving access to suitable computing systems and other equipment.
All of these services are available via third-party providers, and they can offer peace of mind for considerably lower outlays than would normally be needed to put together a similar package on your own.
The loss of data through a leak or hack can make a serious dent in the reputation of a business, but being unable to trade due to an inability to access backed up data can be equally as damaging to a brand.
Recovering from a disastrous situation is part of human nature and as true for a business as it is for an individual or a household.
If you take some simple precautions, it is possible to virtually guarantee that your small business will be in a position to get back on its feet far faster than your rivals.