10 Disaster Planning Essentials for Small Business

Abort_retry_failIn a study of companies that experience a major data loss without having a solid disaster recovery plan in place, ONLY 6% survive; 93% of businesses who lost their data for 10 days or more call it quits within one year and 50% close their doors immediately. And the situation is getting worse as more and more companies store – and rely on – digital information and systems to serve customers and keep the doors open.

Fact is, every business connected to the Internet with human beings accessing digital information is highly vulnerable to hackers, viruses, data corruption, data loss, system failures and downtime.  A disaster can happen at any time on any day; and thinking, “That could never happen to me,” is an open invitation for Murphy to visit you and wreak havoc on your business. (Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will.)

 55% Hardware Failure

22% Human Error

18% Software Failure

5% Natural Disaster

Clearly, the cost of disasters is enormous and spreads far beyond simple downtime. Client data stolen can cost you big in reputational capital and easily turn into lawsuits and government fines. Extended downtime can cause you to lose customers and miss important deadlines, not to mention put a damper on productivity. And with more and more private data being captured and stored by companies, the long-term losses and legal challenges can have significant short AND long term impact.A recent industry report has highlighted the four most common reasons for system downtime. The findings reveal that, while “natural disasters tend to take center stage when considering the causes of downtime, hardware and software failures and human error are statistically more common.” In fact, hardware failures alone comprise more than one-half of disasters for small to mid-sized businesses. Given that it takes an average of 30 hours for recovery, businesses are at risk of losing customers, their reputation and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.

That’s why it’s no longer “nice” to have a disaster recovery and business continuity plan for your business – it’s an outright necessity to protect what you’ve worked so hard to create and achieve.  Here are 10 simple things you can do to minimize the impact or even prevent business crippling disasters.

  • Have a written backup disaster recovery plan
  • Think business continuity, not just backup
  • Automate your backups and eliminate the “human” element
  • Image your servers (and perhaps workstations)
  • Include cloud computing and off-site file storage in your plan
  • Know exactly where your data is being stored
  • Have a clear understanding of the US Patriot act
  • Prepare network documentation (simply a blueprint of your network)
  • Maintain your system to keep it patched, secure and up-to-date
  • Test, Test, Test! If you can’t restore your data, you don’t have a backup.

If your data is important to you and you cannot afford to have your operations halted for days – even weeks – due to data loss or corruption, then it is imperative that you assess your ability to recover from unexpected disaster and take the steps necessary rectify any shortcomings you may find.

Remember – hope is not an option.


About Bob Milliken

Bob Milliken is the owner and president of Cascadia Systems Group, a leading provider of enterprise hosting, business continuity, and IT Services to clients throughout the lower mainland. With over 30 years in the IT industry, Bob has provided technology solutions and business consulting services to the transportation industry, aerospace, the national railways, retail auto, wholesale and retail distribution, and professional service associations. Bob learned his trade with technology industry leaders Univac and Microsoft and continues today to keep abreast of technology innovations. Bob is the Master of Disaster and is known for his expertise in Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery planning. His “Save Your Monkey” disaster recovery platform protects small business from unexpected disaster. Bob is also an expert in Cloud Computing. His Made-in-Canada cloud solution is used by small and medium-sized businesses to keep their data safe and out of the reach of the US Patriot act. Bob is the co-author of “What is Cloud Computing and Why Should I Care”, and “I Don’t Care, Just Fix IT”. He is also the author of “Computer Cents”, a series of weekly news articles and blogs that focus on the impact that today's fast changing IT technologies are having on Canadian Businesses, and is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines. Bob is a member of the Surrey Board of Trade, the Surrey Board of Trade Innovation Council, and Vancouver Rapid Time Networks. In his spare time, Bob is a sailor and appreciates any time that he can spend on the water.

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