If you’re like most business owners, the term “disaster recovery” makes you think of wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. And odds are, you’ve got plans in place to prepare your team if these disasters occur.
But what if we told you, there’s a far more common disaster that many businesses don’t plan for? And that disaster is a sudden loss of data and network connectivity. According to the IDC, 43% of organizations suffered an unrecoverable data loss in 2021 alone! Permanently losing important internal and customer data can set companies back months, if not years. And network outages prevent them from accessing important servers, operating systems, and other mission-critical software.
Disaster Recovery: The Impact of Network Downtime & Data Loss
Data Loss. Losing files, documents, and other pieces of important data has long-term impacts on the efficacy of your business. Studies have shown that 60% of small businesses that suffer a massive data loss shut down for good 6 months after the loss, and 72% close within 2 years.
But why is a loss of data so impactful? First, it disrupts your project timelines as well as your day-to-day efficiency. It forces employees to spend their time attempting to remake or recover the missing data instead of on other tasks – attempts that could take months.
Second, finding and repairing corrupted data is expensive in more ways than one. Restoring lost and corrupted files can cost you quite a bit of money. IBM estimates the average cost of a major data loss, globally, is $4.24 million, the majority of which is attributed to losing existing customers. When customers believe their data isn’t safe or secure with your company, they’re more than willing to look for another provider.
Network Downtime. The cost of a network outage isn’t much better. Almost every business activity now depends on having a reliable network. If the network goes down, employees won’t be able to access essential corporate information and systems and thus won’t be able to work. Productivity will plummet across every single department. Customer support won’t be able to help customers, accounting teams won’t be able to process payments, and so much more.
And while network failures are slowly becoming less frequent, they’re becoming far more costly. In a recent study, over 60% of respondents reported losses of over $100,000 due to network downtime, and 15% of that 60% lost $1 million or more.
The exact cost of network downtime varies for every business. You can find the amount of revenue your business is losing per hour using the following formula:
Annual Sales / Operating Hours each Year
Disaster Recovery: Common Causes of Data Disasters
No company is immune to network outages or to data breaches. One need only look back at the infamous 14-hour outage Facebook experienced in 2019 to realize that. But what are some of the common causes of these disasters? Well, in 2021, the IDC released a whitepaper on the state of data protection and disaster recovery. In it, they asked the respondents who had experienced an unrecoverable data loss what caused the loss. Here are the top four results:
The Loss Happened Between Backup Periods (61%). Say you have daily backups scheduled at 6 PM EST. But what if an important packet of data was created that day and lost at 5 PM? Simple – it won’t be backed up and thus won’t be recoverable. To prevent data from slipping between the gaps, consider increasing the frequency of your backups.
Malware/Ransomware Encryption and Corruption (56%). These attacks have been on the rise since the pandemic forced many companies to go virtual. Many cybercriminals have locked businesses out of their proprietary systems and demanded payment before letting the businesses access them again. Thankfully, many disaster recovery providers have systems in place to prevent and counteract such attacks.
Backup System Failure (45%). Don’t assume your backup system is reliable! When choosing a disaster recovery provider, reviewing customer feedback and asking pointed questions about their equipment is crucial to getting a top-performing system.
Human Error (15%). Employees can delete or corrupt vital information without realizing it. While this is a smaller percentage, it’s still a fact that shouldn’t be overlooked.
So, what can you do in the face of these common causes? Prepare your disaster recovery plan!
Disaster Recovery: Preparing a Plan
Contrary to what you might believe, preparing a plan isn’t nearly as complex as implementing a disaster recovery system. In fact, we’ve prepared five simple steps that will help you create a basic disaster recovery plan for your business. Be sure that no matter what your plan is, it’s comprehensive and flexible!
Step 1: Identify Business-Critical Information & Operations
Every good disaster recovery plan begins by asking two important questions:
What information is crucial to the function of your business? This information can range from internal data (like documents, emails, receipts, tax records, etc.) to customer data (physical and email addresses, sales/customer support notes, customer contracts, etc.). It’s up to you to decide what data’s important enough to merit a backup.
What operations are crucial to the function of your business? Which applications are used the most by your employees? What processes keep your company afloat? These applications and processes are the ones that need to be safeguarded against any data or networking compromise.
Step 2: Determine Your Recovery Objectives
Once you know what information and operations need to be supported by a disaster recover solution, you need to determine your RTO and RPO.
Recovery Time Objectives (RTO). This represents the maximum amount of time you can afford to let an application “stay down.” For instance, if both your CRM and your customer support software go down, how long can you continue “business as usual” before needed them back online? And which one would you like to be restored the fastest? RTO is measured in minutes.
Recovery Point Objectives (RPO). It measures the number of data and network backups you’d like to have within a specified period. It can range anywhere from one backup every week to one backup every second. It depends on how much information you want to risk losing in the event of an outage. RPO is measured in seconds.
Keep in mind – the lower your RTO and RPO, the more expensive your solution will be. So be sure you work with a disaster recovery provider to find the perfect fit for your needs and your budget.
Step 3: Define Employee Roles
Having clearly defined recovery roles will help your employees stay calm, cool, and collected in the face of disaster. Here are a few basic questions you can start with:
- Who is going to be a part of your recovery team?
- What roles does each member of the team play in restoring network services or in recovering data?
- Who is the main point of contact for the team and how many of my employees know how to reach them?
Step 4: Write It Down
Putting your disaster recovery plan on paper will provide extra clarity and prevent confusion in the event of compromised data or disconnected networks. Establish your plan in writing, specifying not only what you need to recover but where you would be able to recover it if your own network is compromised.
Your plan should include:
- A checklist of all equipment and information required to restore data and/or network services
- What backups are in place (if any) and how to access them
- Contact information for your recovery team
- A checklist of all the steps that must be taken and what employee is assigned to ensure their completion
Step 5: Test Your Plan
Once you’re comfortable with your plan – test it! Simulate a ransomware attack or a network outage. These tests will reveal any gaps in your plan and give you a chance to fix them before any actual disasters strike.
Step 6: Establish a Post-Disaster Follow-Up
This is the step that’s the most distasteful. And while no one wants to experience an outage or a data breach, you can learn a lot about the gaps in your systems by studying what went wrong. Simply review your recovery plan, locate any areas of weakness, and strengthen it accordingly.
GreenStar Solutions: Your Partner in Disaster Recovery
If your head is spinning from all the information, don’t worry! There’s a simple, affordable way to combat data and network disaster: GreenStar Solutions’ Disaster Recover as a Service (DRaaS)! No need to know all the ins and outs of disaster recovery software. And no need to invest in extra staff or hardware to keep your business running. Our team at GreenStar can backup, store, prioritize, and manage all your data with our secure cloud solution. Ready to safeguard your business against disaster? Reach out to one of our DRaaS team members today!