Data is becoming a bigger part of our everyday lives, especially if you’re a business owner. The more we connect ourselves to the digital world, the more we rely on the data feed of the internet. Our phones, tablets, and computers work as they should most of the time. But no one is ever completely safe, and your data could be in jeopardy if you do not prepare in advance for these possibilities. The first step is being aware of what disasters are out there and how they can put your digital systems in danger.
Even if you have the latest technology, hardware or software can fail without notice, which may cause a significant loss. This could be critical if the data that was lost was necessary for your business operations, customers, or data compliance measures. The best way to prepare for unexpected data loss is to back up your system. In an age where almost every business relies on critical digital assets, you can store valuable personal and scale your business through data on the cloud at a reasonable price.
In some instances, a physical break-in could lead to your losing valuable information that is stored in a hard drive or server. A common measure to prevent these thefts is to invest in physical security that both deters disgruntled employees or burglars and acts as surveillance for valuable data assets.
While data centers have preventative measures like backup power, in the case of a natural disaster your personal equipment may not be as suited for rough conditions. According to FEMA, 9 out of 10 small businesses will close within a year if they don’t resume operations within five days of a natural disaster. Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and fires all have the potential to inflict damage on your electrical systems.
There is a wide assortment of other problems that can happen, such as employees spilling coffee on their computer or a laptop being dropped in commute, which is why preparation is so vital. Simple things like considering rugged laptops and providing information about protective cases can help, but there are several big steps that you can take as well that will help with larger issues arise.
Preparing for an Unexpected Emergency
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There are a few preventative steps you should take to secure your most important data. As part of your data strategy, you should prepare a secure recovery system so that your operations can quickly return to normal following a severe disaster.
1. Identify Critical Data
Knowing what data is most valuable will help you prioritize how you back up that data. In some cases, it may be smart to back up information including accounting documents and emails in more than one place. There may be other information that does not to be backed up as often due to it not being as vital to the company.
2. Choosing a Method for Backing Up Your Data
There are several ways to back up your files, each with their own pros and cons. As more and more companies are migrating their software and computing systems to the cloud, storing their data there is a natural next step. However, the more places that data is accessed and stored from, the greater the chances are of a security breach. Using cloud storage platforms can introduce additional vulnerabilities. For this reason, many companies concerned with cybersecurity store valuable data locally – either through a local area network with on-site servers or through external hard drives.
3. Implementing a Back-Up Policy
Now that you have a method for backing up your valuable information, it’s time to set up some guidelines for how you and your employees should be storing that data. Depending on the type of information you need to store and the back up method you are using, you’ll want a regular interval at which the data gets uploaded. Information including emails and customer files that are updated on a day-to-day basis should be backed up daily, whereas accounting statements and additional information could be stored manually on an as-need basis.
What to Do After a Disaster Strikes
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In the case where a disaster does happen, first stop everything you are doing. Continuing to use the device you’re working on could make the situation worse. Assess your situation and try to find out the root cause of the problem, then scan your device(s) and information systems to see the extent of the damage.
If you have lost any files, you should check your cloud or local storage to see when the latest backups were run. If you are unsure of the impact, consider other alternatives, including speaking with an IT specialist or packaging your device to send to a data recovery service.
Unfortunately, most of the data lost during disasters is simply never recovered, unless it was backed up. When it comes to recovering from IT disasters, protection and preparation are the keys.
About the Author
Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional. She enjoys writing about events, travel, decorating trends, and innovations for the home, but also covers developments in HR, business communication, recruiting, real estate, finance, law, and investing.