By Mark Nardone
Blue Cow Software

It has been a busy month for disasters. Television coverage of the devastating floods inundating the Carolinas can’t begin to tell the full story of the calamity that has befallen that region. At the same time, just a few miles from our home office in Massachusetts, a series of pipeline gas explosions and fires have paralyzed a three-town area. While people in these regions struggle to return to their homes and rebuild their lives, many energy businesses in the affected areas face another type of catastrophic loss: their data.

The days of keeping customer records on index cards in overstuffed shoe boxes are long gone. Today we are all tied to our computers and network and servers. Your company may deliver fuel oil or propane, and install furnaces and boilers, but your business runs on data. Customer lists, financial information, invoices, vendor lists, payroll – thousands of megabytes of electronic information whose loss, even temporary, could take a potentially fatal toll on your company.

According to the National Archives & Records Administration, 93% of companies that lost their data for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year, and 50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately. Why? A study published by the Graziadio Business School at Pepperdine University estimates that the value of 100 megabytes of data – not an unusual amount for a mid-sized business – is approximately $1 million. Losing that much value can cripple or close a business.

It is not just natural disasters that can do you in. Cybercrime is also on the rise. The U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance found that 60 percent of small companies are unable to sustain their businesses over six months after a cyber-attack. The average price for small businesses to clean up after being hacked stands at $690,000; and, for middle market companies the cost is over $1 million.

“Toy Story 2” Could Have Had a Sad Ending

Are you familiar with the popular “Toy Story” film franchise from Disney/Pixar? Millions of people of all ages have enjoyed this heartwarming series. But it almost came to a crashing halt due to simple human error. During the production of “Toy Story 2” someone inadvertently erased about a year’s worth of animation work from the Pixar mainframe. Not to worry, they had backup in place, right? Wrong. The on-site backup had failed, and millions of dollars’ worth of work seemed to be gone forever. By sheer luck, one of the animators had (illegally) copied the data to her personal computer so that she could work from home. Pixar was able to recover the animation from this “accidental backup system.” (You can watch a short video about this high profile near-disaster here.)

Mitigating the Risk

Pixar’s escape from disaster was fortuitous. Your company may not be as lucky. It is essential that you take proactive steps to lessen the risk attached to losing data. First, understand the type of risk you are facing if you do follow proper data security and backup procedures.

  • Data can be unrecoverable. If your server is destroyed, or a tape-based backup system fails, your information may be permanently lost. This is the worst form of data loss and presents a high risk of business failure.
  • Data is recoverable, but not immediately. In most cases, data is not permanently lost, especially if it is backed up at a site separate from the business location. However, if you rely on nightly backup of data, not all of it will be recovered. Consider how much business you do in a typical day. How long would it take to recreate all that work? Would you be able to restore all that was lost?
  • You may experience “cascade” failures. In our interconnected world, many other business programs and functions operate in relation to a company’s core database. If data is lost, destroyed, or hacked, other functions will be negatively affected. For example, your delivery dispatch system is tied into your customer database. Without access to customer names and addresses your drivers will not be able to make deliveries.

The good news is that the methods of protecting your data from disaster have improved greatly. No more relying on filing cabinets or unreliable tape-based backup systems. Cloud-based backup systems are among the most efficient and secure available and can be designed to run a near-simultaneous, real time backup of your most critical data. Services like our SafeTNet can be configured to do synchronized backup of specified data, while leaving other, less critical information to nightly backup.

Want to protect your company from disaster? Get more information about data backup and disaster recovery by clicking here or calling us at (888) 499-2583.