Why is data protection not a priority for small businesses?

Opinion by Pete Lamson

Small business disaster can strike at any moment, from a computer virus to a flood, fire or theft.

Small business disaster can strike at any moment, from a computer virus to a flood, fire or theft.

For any type of business, no matter how large or small, a man-made or natural disaster can be highly disruptive to business continuity. Inventory and accounts, physical office space, and the computers that hold a business's records and files can all be destroyed in a matter of seconds.

The risk of losing a company's most valuable asset – its business data – is real, and losing data can set the wheels of a business's downfall into motion.

Few small businesses have plans in place to protect against data loss, instead concentrating efforts on protecting physical assets such as buildings and equipment. This is reflected in research from Carbonite, which suggests that while small businesses do recognise the negative impact data loss will have on their business, more than half (57 per cent) still do not have disaster plans for business data.

Eighty-one per cent of small businesses consider data to be their organisation's most valuable asset, according to a Carbonite study, which surveyed small business owners in the US.

The permanent loss of data ranked as the number-one challenge in maintaining normal business operations in the event of a disaster. This was considered to be more devastating than the loss of company products, materials required for production and even the physical premises of the company. Simply put, loss of business data jeopardises a small business's viability as an ongoing enterprise.

Customer and financial records, marketing databases, email and personnel files represent just a few examples of business-critical data that businesses use every day to drive continued success. If this data is lost, it may be gone forever.

Even if the business is lucky enough to retrieve their data lost in a disaster, downtime is highly detrimental to the company's performance. A business may lose sales, or be unable to manage day-to-day accounting.

In the wake of a business disaster, immediate access to business data will reduce downtime and allow businesses to reestablish operations quickly and function again post-disaster, even if physical infrastructure is compromised.

So why are small businesses inadequately prepared for a data disaster despite their recognition of the need to do so? The Carbonite study revealed several reasons the majority of small businesses have neglected to develop a disaster plan, including: they simply haven't thought about it; the belief that a data disaster could not happen to them; the belief that their business can withstand disaster without financial loss; and the perception that disaster plans are too costly to implement.

Data backup technology will help a business survive a disaster. Small businesses simply need to find the right solution that meets both their backup requirements and their budget.

It is worth noting that the most expensive options are likely not the best fit for small businesses, as these are often repurposed enterprise-level solutions that offer more features than a SME will ever need, and at a sky-high price tag. The right backup solution should offer reliable, easy-to-use options, with affordable and predictable pricing.

Online backup offers precisely that – easy to use, affordable, real-time and continuous backup, with no management of physical devices required. With online backup, business data is backed up securely offsite, far removed from any disaster that might impact physical office space, making that important data accessible 24/7 via the click of a mouse and remotely.

Plan and take action to protect valuable business data to ensure the business survives and thrives, even in the event of a disaster.

Pete Lamson is senior vice-president and general manager of the small business group at Carbonite


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