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13 Ways Protecting Your Data Could Save Your Business

Norman Guadagno

Norman Guadagno

Senior VP of Marketing and Chief Evangelist at Carbonite Inc.
Norman Guadagno is the Senior VP of Marketing and Chief Evangelist at Carbonite Inc., a provider of cloud backup solutions for your home and business.
Norman Guadagno
Editorial Note: Fundera exists to help you make better business decisions. That’s why we make sure our editorial integrity isn’t influenced by our own business. The opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations in this article are those of our editorial team alone.

Ask small business owners what their backup and disaster recovery plan looks like and you might hear that it’s something they plan to do—someday. Many small businesses have no dedicated IT staff, but they do have a long list of other priorities—finding suppliers, moving inventory, and hiring staff. When it comes to data protection at small and midsize businesses, the plan is often a two-step process:

Procrastination and panic.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s a close look at the key considerations, questions, and decisions that go into creating a data protection strategy that works for your business.

1. Data as a revenue driver

Small business owners might not wake up in the morning thinking about data, but they are thinking about budgets and revenues all day long. And there’s a strong connection between data and the bottom line.

A gift shop tracks repeat customers who receive rewards and coupons. A dental practice must keep patient histories up to date. A restaurant manager keeps an inventory database.

In each of those cases, data is a powerful tool for staying on budget and meeting revenue goals.

2. Seeing data as an asset

Small business owners can think about data just like they would any other asset. A small business owner wouldn’t leave merchandise or supplies out in the open where they are vulnerable to theft of damage… The same mindset can be applied to data.

Floods and fires can happen, of course. But it’s more likely your computer’s hard drive will die, or your system will be hit with a virus.

In addition, your data is vulnerable to the biggest threat of all: human error. Accidental deletions and lost laptops can wreak havoc on a small business.

3. What’s the true cost of data loss?

The simplest way to determine whether your business could survive if you could not access your data is to do some easy math.

Start by estimating your annual revenues, and divide that total by the weeks of the year. Let’s say your small business takes in about $1,000 a day. Could you still operate and take in that amount without access to your computer data? Without payroll databases or supplier contact information or invoicing systems?

Now let’s say it took you 5 days to rebuild some of those files. Could you survive the $5,000 cost? What about additional costs, extra help, or staff needed to get back to business?

All of this is called the cost of downtime.

4. The Old Story: Tapes and transport

Some small business owners have long recognized the need for data protection. Many of them relied on tape technology. That meant a lot of manual rotation of tapes—and finding storage for them. Or maybe they simply backed everything up to an external hard drive.

Still, they had to figure out how to keep that secure. The sorting, labeling, and storing of tapes became a labor-intensive process that many small business owners did not have the resources to support.

5. The New Story: Cloud backup

Today, just about everyone knows cloud technology exists. But what does it mean for small business owners?

It means affordable and secure data protection that you purchase or subscribe to. In this model, data is backed up automatically online, and copies of that data are secured in professionally managed data warehouses—and locked down tight with the latest data digital security technologies.

Because it happens without manual intervention, and you don’t have to physically store the copies of your data, it’s a less expensive and more efficient way to protect data.

6. Investing in data durability and resiliency

When a small business owner invests in cloud backup, they’re really buying data durability or resiliency. They’re shielding and protecting their data so it doesn’t disappear, and making sure that data lasts as long as they need it to.  

Cloud backup means that small businesses can:

  • Access data remotely from any location
  • Restore key files and data to its computers and servers
  • Get affordable, automatic behind-the-scenes data backup
  • Protect themselves against cyber-criminals by having a second copy of their data

7. Cloud backup for peace of mind

Small business owners often set up shop on their own and take some real risks. They take on huge responsibilities and worries. Will I be able to sell against competitors? Do my prices make sense? Is my website working for me? These are all things that keep small business owners up at night.

But the burden of protecting data can be easily outsourced to a trusted technology partner. Once a small business owner invests in cloud backup, they don’t have to worry that losing their data will mean losing their business. It means having a partner on your side, a knowledgeable expert in the field of data protection.

8. Data protection questions to ask

When deciding on a cloud service provider, there are questions every small business buyer should ask.

Your cloud backup service provider can help you answer:

  • How much total data do I need to back up?
  • Which operating systems am I backing up? (Windows, Mac, etc.)
  • What kinds of data will I back up? Files, (email, documents)
  • Is my current environment physical, virtual, or a combination?
  • How will Customer Support help me? When are they available?

9. What to know about disaster recovery

For a long time, true disaster recovery was something only very large companies could afford to do. They accomplished it by purchasing redundant IT equipment, and sometimes even building a secondary site—an exact replica of their primary site. Then, in the event of a disaster, a large enterprise could rely on this secondary environment to keep their business continuously running.

But now…

10. Disaster recovery in the cloud

Just as the cloud made data backup and protection affordable for smaller companies, it helped make disaster recovery accessible to companies of all sizes. People talk about cloud backup as a way to protect data—and disaster recovery as a way to protect the technology needed to utilize that data.

When disaster recovery is managed in the cloud, it’s called DRaaS. It allows companies to failover to a replicated environment in the cloud—and fall back to their existing environment once it’s restored.

In that way, DRaaS enables business continuity: the ability to run your business no matter what.

11. Does my small business need DRaaS?

Do you need 24/7 access to your critical IT infrastructure? If your server room were flooded, would the downtime costs be catastrophic? DRaaS can host recovered servers when local hardware is not available. Companies that specialize in DraaS have in-house IT experts dedicated to your unique environment needs.

Small business owners who choose DRaaS as part of their data protection strategy often fall into these categories:

  • Calculated cost of downtime would be catastrophic to business
  • Require a disaster recovery testing and evaluation process that auditors and regulators can certify
  • Need a production environment in a geographic region other than primary site (High-risk geographical regions)
  • Meet compliance regulations
  • Know their Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) have to be met under an hour

12. SMB data strategies: Owning it

Small business owners assume a lot of responsibilities. To their families, to customers and clients, their neighborhoods and communities. They take ownership of a company—and its successes, reputation, and longevity.

Today’s savvy small business owners can also own their data strategies. They recognize:

  • Data is connected to revenue
  • All data is at risk
  • Downtime is costly
  • Cloud backup offers affordable, simple data protection
  • DRaaS makes disaster recovery affordable for small businesses that can’t tolerate any downtime
  • Peace of mind is available with a trusted technology partner

13. It’s never too late to protect data

It’s never too late to protect your small business data. Whether you’re located in a high-risk storm region or vulnerable to power outages, you’re simply not sure when a hard drive will age out of use, or realizing you want to be GDPR compliant, cloud backup and disaster recovery technology can help. Cloud technology is empowering small business owners so they can own a data strategy and protect data as they would any other valuable asset.

Norman Guadagno

Norman Guadagno

Senior VP of Marketing and Chief Evangelist at Carbonite Inc.
Norman Guadagno is the Senior VP of Marketing and Chief Evangelist at Carbonite Inc., a provider of cloud backup solutions for your home and business.
Norman Guadagno