The other day, I was going through Google’s Top Business Searches of 2010 in looking for some juicy info about Mobile Geeks’ favourite clients – small business owners. And I must say, it is amazing how revealing your search topics are and what a great insight they provide into what you people are up to. It is encouraging that there is a very healthy appetite among small business owners for making money and creating better businesses – the search keywords for that are on top of the list. It is however very alarming that something like protecting your business data and backup does to make the list at all.
Darling people?! What are you doing to the Geeks!? Haven’t you heard the mantra? BACK UP BACK UP BACK UP
Maybe this is not the sexiest aspect of running your own business, but data security, backup and data management are still fundamental to the operation of any enterprise.
Please, imagine this situation…You (a small business owner) walk into your office in the morning, boot up your computers, have a cup of coffee (another one), sit back for a moment and observe everything ticking away nicely. You start your work, get a few emails and phone calls in and out. You are pretty pleased with yourself for being so ‘on the ball’ ‘on top of your game’ and on your way to business world domination.
And then …
Instead of continuing to run like a Swiss watch, your screens go blank and your computers shut down. And no amount of rebooting or shouting will coax them back to life.
As a savvy business owner, how are you prepared for this kind of morning? How fast can you get your business back online and making you money after, for example, a virus attack has wreaked havoc on your client and business data?
Do you now, in this situation:
a) Pat your self on the back for investing in a good back up system; or
b) Pace the office tearing your hair out and hoping that Mobile Geeks will restore the data?
In Mobile Geeks’ experience, for small business owners, the answer is mostly Option b). Tragic! Considering how avoidable this kind of situation is in most cases.
Unfortunately, for small businesses, it is not so easy to shrug the experience of complete, unrecoverable data loss off and move on. Companies that suffer such catastrophic data loss rarely fully recover. The investment into starting the business off again proves just too much. And those business owners that have come close to such data loss but end up saved in the last minute by very expensive and sophisticated data recovery software, do not always learn the lesson well. Some, in a typical small business feat of optimism, assume that lightning does not strike twice…. Hence, the Google Top Business’ Searches results!
The questions that all business owners need to ask themselves are these – what will happen if my computer system shuts down and I cannot get any usable data out of it? What will happen to my business? Can it handle that? Is there a way to avoid the problem of complete data loss and what do I need to do to implement it? And please ignore that little voice in your head that whispers ‘This won’t ever happen to me’?
Maybe it won’t or maybe it will … In 2010, 11.8% of Mobile Geeks clients needed to access their backup at least once. That’s one in ten businesses losing their data due to some unexpected event… Those businesses barely felt the glitch; would you still be in business had that happened to you?
If you are now seeing the light and thinking, ‘Well, it would be good to have back up, but it is complicated. I do not have time to work this out.’ You no longer have that excuse. Massive developments in communications technology have given small business owners access to systems once only available to massive corporations with bloated I.T. departments…and the it has made this easy.
To help illustrate, let’s look at the way offices have changed over time.
Thirty years ago, accounts were kept in dusty ledgers; customers’ details in a rolodex; you had to go to the bank to conduct transactions; the post was the leading communications provider; and filing cabinets ruled. Without one, business would have been impossible; and their safety – the safety of your business data – was of the utmost importance.
Fast forward a few decades and things look a little different. Account details and financials are kept electronically; your customers’ details are easily accessible from Contacts in your computer; banking can be done from the comfort of your office (or train or taxi); and, email now dominates the communications space. The filing cabinet has been replaced with a computer, or a networked server that controls all these functions. However, one thing is still the same – the security of a business’ data is still of the utmost importance.
Enter the age of backup! Often, backup took the form of a removable hard drive that was taken from the premises at the end of each day – in case of fire, flood or theft. This approach to backup – albeit in a slightly more advanced version, is still popular today. These sorts of back up systems have proven to be unreliable. And the technology is not to take all the blame here. Human error was and is the main culprit. If you have a system that relies on you to run a backup or even an automated system that does the remembering for you, be honest, when was the last time you checked your backup to make sure it’s working?
Of course, if you have computer repairs professionals like, for example, Mobile Geeks *big cheesy smile* managing the back up system for you, you do not need to worry about remembering. That is our job, as well as maintaining the system to ensure it is running to its peak efficiency. However, most small business owners may find those services expensive.
If that is the case, cloud-based services may be your answer. Cloud computing is the next step, taking backup out of your hands (and away from your mistakes) and moving it online. Cloud backup takes away the need to own and maintain the infrastructure once needed to perform the tasks we now take for granted. In effect, it outsources the service to backup experts. Cloud technology takes the filing cabinet of thirty years ago and moves it to a secure remote location accessible via the internet – a location where your data and its safety is Mission Critical. (so wanted to work this phrase in!) The catch-all filing cabinet is now a giant warehouse with more security than it ever had. Any device that can get online can access all your business’ data, whether you’re in the office, on the road or at home. (So, bye bye spare time…if you still had any that is)
If, god forbid, there’s a system crash and a reboot is needed, or there’s a fire, or something much less catastrophic – like someone spilling coffee on the computer – all the data is safely stored far away from the crisis. The business’ data is in the hands of backup experts, who know how to quickly correct the situation, allowing you to continue focusing on running your business.
More on cloud computing in the next blog.
Over and out