Whenever people go on a road trip, they usually prep their car by checking all the fluid levels, making sure the tires are aired up properly, and putting emergency supplies in the trunk. Rarely, however, do most of us check the air in our spare tires. Sadly, the same is true with businesses as they plan for potential technological disasters.
Most companies understand the wisdom of having an alternate or emergency power source, some amount of redundant or standby hardware, copies of critical software that can be re-loaded if necessary, and adequate amounts of data backup capacity. Many have seen the wisdom of using cloud-based data storage and backup as a way of ensuring that critical data is not lost.
But how often do companies actually check to make sure its data storage and backup systems are capturing all the data they’re supposed to? And how many perform backup and disaster recovery drills to confirm not only that they have access to all their backed-up data, but also that they have the knowledge and skill necessary to re-load that data into their systems?
The wise motorist occasionally opens up the trunk, or crawls under the car to check the air pressure in the spare tire. So, too, the wise systems administrator or SMB owner occasionally conducts tests of the company’s data storage and backup system. Failure to do so increases the risk of a major data loss, or an unnecessarily long recovery from an outage. And either outcome that costs companies enormous amounts of money in the form of lost revenue, lost credibility and customer good will, and even legal fees and liabilities. Such costs can cripple the enterprise.
So here are four basic investments your company needs to make to ensure that such disastrous outcomes don’t befall it:
1. Invest in high quality data storage and recovery capacity
Since the capital requirements can be significant, many SMBs choose to contract out its backup capabilities to third-party service providers who can spread the cost of its equipment and software over multiple clients. But be careful of ultra-lowball bids for such services. Would you take a car that’s falling apart, and take it on a cross-country drive? Of course not. Nor should you trust your data backup and disaster recovery to just any ol’ vendor.
2. Invest in high quality people to maintain your data backup and disaster recovery system
For many SMBs, this could be a budget challenge if the work is kept in-house, because your company needs multiple people with the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain such systems. No business should ever be dependent on a single, critical employee to be available 24/7/365 in the event of a system failure. A well-qualified third-party cloud solutions provider will have a team of experts available to get your company back up and running no matter when a system outage occurs.
3. Invest in off-site data storage and disaster recovery systems
If there’s a fire in you SMB’s server room, your backed up data won’t be of much use if it’s buried on servers in the same room. Even moving the backup servers to another location in the same building doesn’t offer enough protection if the whole place goes up in flames, is knocked off the power grid or hit by a natural disaster. Cloud-based backup in an alternate location provides significantly greater protection.
4. Invest in a formal testing program
Too often, people discover that their spare tire is out of air only when they’re sitting on the side of a road with a flat. To avoid that situation with your backup systems, your company needs to perform regular tests to make sure that the data you think is backed up, really is backed up; to confirm that the disaster recovery plan actually works; and to make sure your team knows how to implement your data restoration and disaster recovery plan. Such tests should be scheduled quarterly, or at the very least, annually. And a random, unannounced test now and then is always a good idea. A high-quality third-party vendor should include such testing in their package of services.