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Could your small business continue to function when disaster strikes?

While the annual business insurance renewal reminds you about physical damage from threats such as fire, flooding or theft, too many businesses overlook the risk of losing data. Not only can this result from physical incidents, but it can also come from other more likely risks such as a server failure or simply accidentally deleting a file.

You’ll often hear people in the IT industry use the term “continuity” rather than “recovery” and there is a key distinction. It’s not enough to simply know you can recover your data if needed: you need to know how quickly you’ll recover the data, what practical steps are involved, and how you can operate in the meantime. The longer you are without your data and the more time you spend on the recovery, the less productive your business can be.

Developing a recovery plan therefore involves two tasks. The first is working out a back-up policy. You need to think about exactly what data you need to back up and how often to do it. You’ll also need to work out where the backup is physically stored: a back-up disk is no use if it’s destroyed alongside your computers.

There is often a trade-off between how much a business is prepared to spend on regular data back-ups and the perceived risk of a data loss occurring. Rather than simply thinking about back-ups and disaster recovery, we urge businesses to consider their Recovery Time Objective (RTO) as part of a business continuity plan. If your server failed, how long would it take to recover your data and start working normally again?

Building a continuity plan goes beyond thinking about data recovery. It also includes working out the physical logistics such as how you’ll recover data, where you will work if your office is unavailable, and how you’ll get reliable and secure Internet access.

Whatever your solution, you need to test it. Schedule time to simulate different scenarios, be it a temporary internet outage, damaged computer equipment or a total loss of your premises and make sure that you know how you’d recover data and that the back-up does indeed prove adequate.

Choosing a cloud based back-up and disaster recovery solution has many benefits to your business. Off-site back-up is a monitored and fully automated process so you don’t have worry about manually backing up your files and data. Because storage is off-site, you can rest assured that your data is safe in the event of a flood, fire or on-site server crash.

Because data loss, however temporary, is critical to your business it is worth seeking expert help from your IT provider on how to develop a recovery plan and suggest the most appropriate IT solutions.

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