Welcome to my first Kidderminster Shuttle Business Blog post. I’ll be writing about IT and how it impacts on your business, and the first subject under discussion is data backup and disaster recovery: specifically, why your business needs a strong data backup plan.
Many of you may have probably suffered the unfortunate mishap at home of losing a document from your PC or deleting a photo by mistake. The consequences can range from annoying (losing a recent holiday snap) to problem causing (losing a copy of important legal documentation).
But if your business suffered a data loss, the consequences could be far more serious. What could the impact be? Depending on the type of business, results of data loss could include combinations of: •the inability to complete projects or cases to a deadline as a result of the loss of relevant information • the loss of documented evidence of agreements, customer orders or decisions, through removal of e-mail records • an impact on marketing potential following the loss of a customer or prospective customer database or CRM system (customer relationship management) • the potential negative effect on cash flow with the inability to issue invoices and the destruction of accounts records• a difficulty fulfilling customer orders and managing stock levels, if applicable to your business, through stock record loss • the inability to accurately pay staff with the loss of employee and payroll records.
Access to these forms of business data are imperative for business survival and safe retention of this data is also in many cases a legal prerequisite.
But how can data loss occur? Most commonly, data loss happens as a result of a failure in IT hardware. Most conventional forms of IT backup equipment, such as a backup tape or external storage device, are liable to failure over time including wear, which could make data irretrievable. Cyber crime and viruses can also corrupt data, which can cause problems in data retrieval.
More seriously, there’s the possibility of a disaster, such as a fire, flood or theft, striking your business. Relatively speaking, a full scale disaster is an unlikely event. However rare though, these situations do happen, as last year’s fire in Hereford’s historic centre and more recently the fire in Kidderminster’s town centre, testify. Businesses in the county have also been victims of flood, as Worcestershire County Cricket Club is unfortunate evidence of on an almost annual basis.
A disaster is an extreme word to describe an extreme event. But even if you think that your business is less likely to suffer a full blown disaster, smaller-scale incidents can occur, such as flooding as a result of a burst water pipe incident. Remember therefore that IT equipment is sensitive to environmental conditions so a relatively minor physical impact can still cause severe consequences.
While data loss may be a secondary consideration in the event of a disaster with more ‘human’ considerations to think of in the first instance, the impact of a disaster on data loss can be long term. According to The London Chamber of Commerce, as many as 20 per cent of businesses suffer ‘some form’ of disaster throughout their life span. The organisation also claims that as many as 90 per cent of businesses which lose data as a result of a disaster are forced to close within two years.
While the definition of ‘disaster’ may be a moot point and the seriousness of the data loss isn’t clarified, suffice to say that facing statistics such as these, the decision not to take a robust approach to data backup and disaster recovery is not a workable solution for any business.
So, whether the potential for data loss comes from IT hardware failure, a virus, or a genuine disaster, as a business it’s imperative that data is protected. In the next blog post, we’ll look at how you can build a strong, reliable data backup and what you need to consider to create a workable disaster recovery plan.