Survey reveals small businesses put themselves at risk of data loss

A survey has revealed that many small businesses in the region are putting themselves at unnecessary risk by neglecting their data backup.

More than 500 business owners took part in the survey, which found that a quarter of SMEs have no data backup solution in place. Of the businesses that do, less than 30% run backups on a daily basis and 10% backup “as and when they remember”. More than a third admitted to having no idea how long it would take to restore their company data in the event of a loss.

The figures are really quite worrying. By having no backup solution in place, these businesses are literally setting themselves up to fail. If a full data loss was experienced – whether it be through a hardware failure, system corruption, theft or fire, then there would be no means whatsoever of recovering that data. Files, records, emails, customer data, financials – gone. It would be practically impossible for a business to recover from that.

Having a backup solution in place is a necessity, but like anything else it needs to be maintained if it’s going to be effective. Backups need to run regularly – at least once a day – and need to be checked and restored to ensure everything is functioning correctly.

The survey went on to expose the fact that 30% of those surveyed did not know how long it would take to get their business back up and running if their premises were destroyed, highlighting that business continuity planning is not a priority for many people.

A business continuity plan needn’t be all singing all dancing, but business owners should have some basic idea of what they would do if their offices became unusable. It’s something we don’t like to think about, but fire, flood, theft and equipment failure do all happen and it is a business owner’s responsibility to put a plan of action together outlining what they would do in the event of such a disaster.

Aspects such as alternative premises, telecom and broadband connectivity, hardware replacement and of course, data recovery, should all be considered.

Although it is comforting to see that most businesses are taking data backup seriously, the number of companies running without backup is extremely worrying. These businesses are like ticking time bombs.

I would advise any firm without backup to speak to their IT provider immediately about secure offline backup – the most reliable and effective way to secure your data. Failing that, business owners should purchase an external hard drive or USB device and copy their critical data across immediately.

In 2001 Graham Fern founded Axon IT along with business partner Mike Agutter, with a limited budget and zero investment. Within just a few months the company had won major accounts including Tarmac and British Gypsum, and in the 9 years since, the business has grown successfully to boast a turnover of more than £800,000 and 12 employees.