Could your small business recover quickly if it experienced one of the following scenarios?
- Your hard drive crashes the morning you are scheduled to meet with a prospective client
- Servers fail after a big storm
- You return to your car to find the window shattered and your laptop stolen
- An employee accidentally deletes your entire client list
- You are attacked by the latest computer virus
- Your toddler dumps the contents of a sippy cup onto your computer keyboard
Data loss can wreak havoc on small businesses -- whether it’s in the form of lost patient records from a private medical practice, or accidentally deleted case files from a small law firm -- causing productivity drains, delayed work, missed deadlines and ultimately, lost revenue.
Your best defense is to have a solid plan in place to prevent data loss and to recover should you find yourself smack-dab in the middle of one of those scenarios. Follow these steps to protect your data and your business:
Follow the 3-2-1 Rule
Many experts suggest that you follow the 3-2-1 rule: Make three copies of your data, store at least two in different types of media, and one set in an off-site location. That way, if one option fails (for example, your computer dies), you have two other ways to access your data. It is critical that you store your data in one off-site location in case your store or office building is burglarized, catches fire or is hit by a hurricane or tornado.
Choose a Reputable Cloud Storage Provider
Do your research and choose a storage provider with a proven track record of being reliable. Reach out to your network to gain feedback on providers your contacts have used, and read plenty of online reviews to ensure that the provider you choose is dependable.
Purchase a Hard Disk Drive
If you are leery of using the cloud to protect your most critical data; if cloud storage is impractical because of the size of your files (you may not have the Internet bandwidth to back up data online); or even if you just want the added protection, purchase an external hard disk drive (HDD).
You can easily transport your HDD from your workplace to home and back again. For added protection, you could also store it in a safe deposit box. HDDs are affordable, with many quality models costing less than $100.
Back up Frequently
Whether you choose an external hard drive or opt to back up your data in the cloud, build the habit of backing up your files routinely – weekly, or even daily. Create a schedule and stick to it, and ask your employees to do the same.
Purchase and Maintain Antivirus Software
Viruses and malware can cause your computer to crash, or they can delete or alter your data without you realizing it. Secure antivirus software with firewalls will protect your computer against those attacks.
Update your software with the latest software patch and signature files to ensure that the software can prevent attacks from the newest viruses.
Invest in a Generator or Battery Back-Up System
Power surges resulting from lightning or electrical storms can cause damage ranging from complete computer equipment failure, to data deletion on hard drives. A generator or battery backup system maintains a steady uninterrupted power supply so that you have the ability to back up your data when a storm hits.
If you have a staff for your small business -- especially if you let employees bring their own devices to work or access work documents from other locations -- train them on the dangers of data loss. Establish specific policies that detail what constitutes confidential information, and explain the consequences to the business if that data is compromised.
You may also want to consider having employees sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to further protect yourself against data leaks. If employees fully understand the critical nature of protecting your data, they will be more careful.
Encrypt Sensitive Data
Encryption makes anything you back up or send over the Internet unreadable to anyone but yourself and those people you grant access to; it helps to prevent unintended viewers from accessing confidential information. Check out this detailed article from PC World that tells you how to encrypt just about anything you might use at work.
Test Your Recovery Plan
Once you have all your backup options in place, draft a disaster recovery plan. Think about how quickly you need to be up and running, and which data is critical for you to access in order to resume business. Write down all the steps you will take daily, weekly, monthly and so on to ensure that you have backed everything up properly. Share the plan with employees and other stakeholders.
Next, test your plan. Pretend that your servers or computers have failed, walk through the steps needed to continue business, and complete an audit. Go to the cloud or your HDD to see if all of the information is there and easily accessible. What data is missing? Are files labeled and organized appropriately? How long did it take you to put everything in order so that you can resume business? What do you need to improve? Work to correct any problems going forward. The last thing you want is to uncover those issues during a real crisis.
Don't let a technical failure or Mother Nature destroy your productivity and hurt your bottom line. Take precautions now to protect your small business against data loss.Bottom of Form