|Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.|
Protecting Data Against Natural Disasters
A natural disaster can affect a small business in any season, making it critical to install procedures and technologies to protect critical data against accidental destruction or loss.
Although disaster risks can vary by region, the need to safeguard information is consistent no matter where a company is located - as is the need to plan ahead to reduce complications and improve your ability to recover.
One of the first steps in developing an effective data protection plan is identifying your most important information and where it is stored. For most small businesses, this will include financial information, customer records, intellectual property and similar data assets.
You're going to want to make sure not only that your critical data is being backed up consistently, but that you will be able to access it quickly following a disaster.
It's also important to understand that data backup and recovery, although related, aren't the same thing. Backup refers to the process of your information being duplicated and stored in a safe location, while recovery refers to the broader challenges of restoring IT equipment and communications as well as getting access to your data.
Because different recovery methods offer varying speeds, it's important to align your most important data with the fastest recovery methods. For example, instead of trying to restore all of your data at once, it's usually faster to download a recent or critical subset quickly, and to then recover less critical data as time and resources allow.
If your company depends on a lot of web-based applications to access and store information, don't assume you are automatically protected against natural disaster. Your data may be in the cloud, but if you can't get online to access it, you may lose valuable time in your recovery efforts.
Generally speaking, the most convenient way to protect your data is to work with a cloud-based backup provider. Your information will automatically be encrypted and uploaded to a remote data center, where it will be further backed up by your provider.
In addition to the peace of mind that your backups are taking place automatically, a cloud-based backup system can also provide geographic diversity. This can help ensure that a disaster at your location probably won't also affect the data center where your information is being stored.
Another important consideration is asking your backup provider (before a disaster) about their ability to send your data on hard drives or DVDs. This will allow you to quickly install a local backup, and will provide a faster option than trying to download a large amount of data during your recovery process.
Test and Verify
Although automated backups are convenient, it's also important to periodically try to recover data as a test. You want to be sure the backup process is running smoothly, and that you are familiar with your provider's procedures for getting your information back. After a natural disaster, you'll have enough to worry about - including your business, customers, and employees - without also having to learn a data recovery process as well.
As with backup planning, investing time and effort before a natural disaster can help you protect valuable information and increase your company's chances of recovering quickly and effectively should a disaster occur.
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