In today’s digital age, it’s easier than ever for your small business to produce bundles of precious data every day. From emails to calendars, accounting files, and electronic health records – it’s all digital and optimized for efficiency.
Since a modern-day small business likely leans heavily on an ever-growing mountain of data for continuity, protecting that data is paramount. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, if a small business closes for at least five days following a disaster, it has a 90% chance of failing within a year.
As a business owner, protecting your data is a job of its own. Not only do you have to worry about you or your employees accidentally deleting or saving over a file, but also the cybercriminals itching to ransom anything they can.
If your data is in danger, so is your business continuity. An effective business continuity plan improves your business’ ability to remain functional during and after a disaster. As if internal data loss via human error and conniving cybercriminals pining over your files weren’t enough, you also need data protection from Mother Nature’s tantrums.
The numbers speak for themselves: 22% of small businesses have been impacted by a natural disaster. These disasters can take the form of hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, earthquakes, or even a volcanic eruption. They can be devastatingly expensive. Natural disasters have cost the US over $1.5 trillion since 1980.
So what can you do to shelter your small business’s data from these events?
Consider where you conduct business.
- Florida, the Gulf Coast, and the Mid-Atlantic States are in prime hurricane territory. Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma combined to cost $268 billion.
- Oklahoma and other flat states are a breeding ground for tornadoes.
- Blizzards and ice storms are beastly in the Northeast.
- The Mountain West and Southwest regions are dry, and prime targets of forest fires.
- Earthquakes shake California, Alaska, and Oklahoma. There are roughly 20,000 earthquakes each year in 42 states. Half of these earthquakes affect California.
- Hawaii and Washington have active volcanoes.
If your business is near a fault line on the West coast or the hurricane zone on the East coast, you’ve probably experienced the force of nature and will face it again. Businesses in the Midwest are subject to freakish storms, high winds, and flooding.
Wherever you conduct business, it’s important to remember that it only takes one natural disaster to destroy your business environment and your onsite data. As small businesses become more data dependent, there comes a pressing need for smarter defenses in operation before a disaster strikes.
Decide which data is most business-critical.
It’s essential to be aware of your business’ data before deciding how to protect it, considering your team likely stores and shares files in different ways on different devices. Whether through email, a cloud sharing app, or something else, it’s crucial that you understand these processes so you can protect them. Discuss with your team:
- What data is stored?
- Where is it stored?
- How often is it opened?
- How costly would it be to lose it?
Your business likely uses a multitude of devices throughout the workday – from laptops and mobile devices to servers and cloud storage services. There are a lot of moving parts, all working toward a singular goal.
If a natural disaster were to render your business’ devices useless, would you be able to recover that same data onto new devices?
Understanding how you and your employees create, share, and store data helps you determine which backup solution will best safeguard your business’ data from a natural disaster.
Use multiple backups for redundancy.
When a hurricane is raging at your doorstep, it’s too late to start backing up your important files. Planned, continuous backup of your data to multiple locations for redundancy is vital to your recovery in the wake of a natural disaster.
You never truly know how severe Mother Nature will be until you are in the thick of her fury. You can’t predict if your office will be destroyed, along with any local backups like external hard drives.
The common practice is to have two backups onsite – typically one at the source on a device, and another on an external drive or a network-attached server. The only way to make sure your data isn’t permanently wiped out by a natural disaster is to have at least one copy offsite.
Onsite backups are a good start, but you should consider backing up the third version of your business-critical data via an online backup service to an offsite data center that’s away from the wacky weather of your region.
Cloud backup services pair perfectly with small businesses that face the threat of a natural disaster, as they offer unlimited storage space and help minimize data downtime by continuously backing up around the clock.
Central Data Storage offers a fully supported cloud backup and recovery solution from landlocked Nebraska, USA, far from hurricanes in the East and earthquakes in the West. We make transitioning to the cloud life easy – from setting up your account and completing your initial backup, to quickly recovering the files you need.
A comprehensive data backup plan ensures your business’ data can survive anything. Even in the event your practice is completely destroyed, a cloud backup can begin restoring the most recent versions of your files immediately.
Establish a disaster recovery plan.
An established disaster recovery plan is vital in the continuity of your small business following a natural disaster. Considering the likelihood of going out of business after a catastrophic data loss, it is surprising that 68% of small businesses don’t have a written disaster recovery plan.
For a small business owner, lengthy data recoveries can prove too costly. The proper preventative measures need to be in place to recover data efficiently after a natural disaster.
Your written disaster recovery (DR) plan should include:
- Your business’ mission-critical systems, such as database systems and process control servers.
- Your recovery time objective, or how long your business can survive after a disaster without a computer, network, system, or application.
- Strategies to resume business, such as restore processes and communication channels.
- Roles and responsibilities for each task, from initial everyday backups to executing the disaster recovery.
- A contact information list of vendors, key customers, partners, and suppliers kept securely offsite.
If you need help working through your small business’ DR plan, check out this step-by-step guide!
Fill everyone in.
The most valuable asset of any small business is its people. Informing your people of the business’ emergency procedures should be of top priority. If a natural disaster were to spring up tomorrow, would you and your team be ready?
Of course, no plan is perfect if not practiced and tested. Make sure to set time aside to run through your entire emergency process with those involved, at least every quarter, as heaps of data can accumulate in 90 days.
Work as a team to determine weak spots in the plan and ways to bolster them. Your team may need to make immediate changes to ensure continuity in the future. Mother Nature isn’t going anywhere – and depending on your business’ address, you and she are likely to meet again soon.
Keep moving forward despite the forecast.
If you and your team have established a tested plan to combat a natural disaster, you can focus on your community and not your business when the weatherman brings the dire news. Whether it’s a hurricane, earthquake, or flood, Mother Nature is always keeping us on our toes.
It’s up to you to shelter your business-critical data from the storm. Move to high “ground!” The view is better from the cloud.
“Our office was involved in a flood that wiped out almost our entire community. With all the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, our office was completely underwater. With a disaster recovery plan in place, and with the help of Central Data Storage, we were back up-and-running in no time. I would highly recommend the people at Central Data Storage for any data protection needs your office may have.”
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