While computers form an integral part of our lives, we don’t often worry about the unthinkable. We all know a person – or have been that person – who loses their phone, and so we all understand the trouble something minor as the loss of a bunch of numbers and texts can cause.
But in this day and age where natural disasters seem to compete with each other on the amount of destruction they can cause, we don’t often take stock and think about how the loss of the computers we use for work and play would affect us.
We tend to think of insurance as a means to protect our physical assets – our car, our homes, our businesses, even ourselves. To many people, insuring a business means protecting the office, furniture, computers and other resources, yet disaster recovery and digital insurance are arguably as important as safeguarding the bricks and mortar. In fact, for office-based businesses, the right recovery plan could mean the difference between a company’s life or death after a major disaster. The security software company Symantec compiled a report in America on small businesses and found that 76% of them operate in areas susceptible to natural disasters, 55% could withstand only four hours of downtime before they suffer losses, and 25% don’t ever recover from a disaster.
Which is silly – I’ve made the changes in my personal life to an increased reliance on technology (if there’s ever a fire in my house and I have to flee, the photo album will be in one hand and the Mac will be in the other), so why haven’t businesses made the change?
Data protection comes in many forms, from the simple data CD, through to USB hard-drives, network-attached storage (NAS), to cloud storage and third-party data-storage solutions. While personal use might necessitate something as simple as data DVDs or a Dropbox account, the requirements for a business can be much more complex (especially the legal requirements for data storage and protection – the ICO website is a useful guide to this). While onsite solutions such as NAS, hard-drives or a tape back-up are excellent insurance against disaster, they should be seen as just one procedure to safeguard data.
For small to medium businesses that don’t have the size or resources to invest in embedded IT personnel, outsourcing data storage responsibilities is a practical way to reduce the overall worry of remaining protected and compliant. It’s also a way of protecting data against viruses or hacking. Companies such as Iron Mountain, SafeNet or Recall offer a variety of services for the lifespan of your business’s information.
In the end, it shouldn’t take a disaster to recognize the importance of proper data back-up. The recovery of data shouldn’t be an additional burden in an unforeseen circumstance. In our personal lives we tend to spread our personal data everywhere – through emails, photos and embarrassing YouTube videos, but in business we keep our data to ourselves. We hide it from competitors and we hide sensitive information. The problem is we don’t always keep it safe.