Picture this: You drain the last of the coffee in your mug and sit back with a satisfied sigh – you have just completed a gruelling project that required long nights and a lack of sleep. Just as you are about to send the work to your client, the power goes off. You are frustrated, but not panicked, you can go get some much needed shut eye and send the work in the morning. Unfortunately, when the power comes back on during the night, it causes an unexpected power surge which just happens to blow the socket your laptop is plugged into. Come morning, you find yourself staring at a fried hard-drive with a sense of complete despair. Your work is gone and you will have to start from scratch.
As the owner or director of a business, you have a fiduciary duty to manage and protect your company’s data. The picture painted above is soul-destroying in and of itself. But many small business owners are unaware that if you lose information relating to your business, you are actually considered to be in dereliction of your director duties and can be legally prosecuted. It’s not just your sanity at stake in this equation!
This sounds really scary, but it can be avoided all together with the simple implementation of a disaster recovery plan.
A disaster recovery plan doesn’t have to be complex. Depending on the size and nature of your company, it could be as simple as moving all your documents and programs onto the cloud so that you can take advantage of instant backups. But no matter the size of your business, it is essential to its survival.
The easiest and simplest step in protecting your company from data loss is to set up policies and procedures for regular backups. This is an area that too many small business owners are guilty of neglecting – until disaster strikes. All you need is for a cup of coffee to spill in the wrong place or an electrical surge to happen at the wrong time and suddenly you could be looking at a dead computer and wondering how on earth you are going to get your information back and carry on working.
If you don’t have time to develop a thorough disaster recovery scenario, we recommend that you at least implement the following:
· If you keep paper documents, think carefully about where and how they are stored. You need to try and protect them from damp, mildew, fire, flooding and rodents.
· Consider an offsite document storage facility. There are many companies that will safely and securely store your documents for you for a reasonable fee.
· Scan all paper documents so that you have a digital copy of all your paperwork.
· Backup your scanned documents and your computer files to external hard-drives. Keep these external hard-drive in a separate location to your computer – your files are not protected if your office building burns down and both your computer and your backup drive were sitting in your office.
· For the truly paranoid, backup the external drive onto a second external drive. External drives are marvellous pieces of technology, but they are not immune to failure and the small ones get lost easily.
· Consider moving into the cloud. Firstly, look at the programs you use on a regular basis and find out if they have online options. Using a service such as Microsoft Office 365 and activating OneDrive means that every single Word or Excel document you create automatically gets stored and backed up online for you. Restoring lost data is as simple as keying in your username and password and syncing.
· Backup to cloud storage. In addition to the 1TB of storage that comes free with an Office 365 subscription, you can choose to use Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud or any other cloud storage program to backup your most important documents and programs.
· Schedule automatic backups. This is possible now with just about any operating system or program. All you need to do is make sure that your device is plugged in to the power and connected to the internet and it will automatically back up for you overnight.
The points above will help prevent a complete meltdown in the face of an unexpected disaster, but if you want to be in a position where not even a natural disaster shuts you down, then consider putting together a complete and thorough disaster recovery plan. A proper plan will cover everything from the loss of a single file to the loss of a complete office building. You need to know how your business can continue to operate even in the worst of circumstances. You could even consider calling an expert and having a plan custom-created for you. However you decide to approach it, the most important thing is that you do it – do not leave your business continuity up to chance!
This article was originally published on LinkedIn, you can read it here.