When you’ve thought about disaster planning for your business, what are the key things you’ve considered? Hardware failure, software corruption, cyber attacks, power outages, natural disasters? These are all critical, of course, but linked to them is something that can have an even more damaging effect on your day to day operations - an inability to access your data.
Consider the following important questions:
- How much data can you afford to lose without it impacting your business?
- How long can you cope with being out of action before it starts to affect your business?
Many business owners simply underestimate the amount of disruption that data loss can cause. As well as factors already mentioned such as hardware failure or software bugs, it can also be caused by plain old human error or even employee theft or fraud. Unforeseen disasters causing fire, smoke or water damage may render your data useless or it may be down to man-made disasters such as sabotage, hacking or viruses. More than just an inability to access your data, these issues could mean permanent corruption of the data on your server.
If you think about the implications, data loss can mean missed opportunities, customer dissatisfaction, shareholder insecurity and damage to your overall corporate image. So whatever the cause may have been, your priority should be to protect the one asset that’s impossible to replace - your data!
This hits home even more when you read the statistic from Gartner that 93% of organisations who experienced a significant data loss are out of business within five years.
So how can you take steps to guard against the risk? There are a range of solutions to consider, such as:
- continuous backup
- automatic off-site storage
- immediate recovery
- a guarantee of the recovery, not just backup, from an online service
You obviously need to strike a balance between the level of risk you can tolerate and the cost of perfect security. Initially, you may think you can’t afford to lose any data or cope with any downtime but when you realise that this level of protection would be prohibitive, you may decide not all applications are absolutely critical.
This is where concepts such as RTO - recovery time objectives and RPO - recovery point objectives - come into play as you plan for continuity within your business. RTO will give you guidance when disruption occurs and by having a set plan to follow, you’ll know how quickly you can be back up and running. Your RPO standards will keep the data loss to a minimum when your systems are back online after a disaster. These will obviously differ depending on the sector.
So when you’re next thinking about disaster planning, make sure data doesn’t get overlooked. Focus on getting your business up and running again but make sure your recovery plan also takes into account the amount of data you can afford to lose and how you’re combatting the risk.