It might sound dramatic, but have you thought about how your business would cope with a disaster? Many small and medium sized business owners don’t spend enough time thinking about disaster recovery. To them, disasters are something that happen to other people. The thought of their own business running into trouble is just too scary to think about, so they hide behind the “odds” of it being incredibly unlikely that it will happen to them.
Disasters Happen | Plan For The Worst
Disasters can happen to anyone, at any time and in many forms. Just look at the case of one of my clients, an attorney in Northern New Jersey.
This attorney, Michael, has a small practice. His office consists of himself, a partner, a receptionist and two paralegals. He has one server and runs his practice on Amicus Attorney, a server based practice management solution.
One evening about a year ago Michael called me, panicked and told me he was suddenly unable to access his practice management software. He was due in court the next morning and couldn’t retrieve the case file he needed for his appearance. After I checked that the server was up and running and that there were no network issues we got on a call with Amicus support. In short order it was determined that the database had become corrupt and would need to be restored. Fortunately for Michael he had a good backup system in place. We replaced his failing tape backup unit with a BDR appliance (Backup and Disaster Recovery device) about a year prior.
FYI – A BDR is a device that backs up to disk and replicates that data off-site. It is fast, requires no tape changes and backups can be easily scheduled to run multiple times each day (I set Michael’s to run hourly from 7am – 8pm). Backups can be accessed via Windows Explorer for file and directory restorations. They can also be mounted as virtual servers either on the appliance or in the cloud in a worst case scenario.
The speed of the disk based BDR allowed me to recover the database in just a few minutes, much to Michael’s delight. And since backups were done every hour he only had to re-key the changes he made just prior to the failure. All in all, he lost only about two hours of time. It could have been much worse.
Clearly this is not a disaster on the order of a fire or flood, and that’s the point. Disasters come in many shapes and sizes.
The Cost of Down Time
It’s easy to tell yourself that backups done daily or once a week are sufficient. You’ve got your data – you’re good. However, that’s a rather simplistic view.
Having your data backed up is important. But being able to restore it and do so quickly is key.
Consider the case of Michael.
Had he been using his old tape backup system it might have taken several hours to restore the database. Then he would have had to re-key EVERYTHING from that day. How long would that have taken? Would it have been accurate? What would he have spent paying me to be there?
A few days after Michael’s issue I did a simple analysis. I estimated the number of hours I would have spent recovering from tape and the additional time Michael would have spent re-keying that day’s data.
- My time 6 hours @ $125 = $750
- Michael’s time 8 hours @ $200 = $1600
- That’s $2350 in hard costs.
That doesn’t take into account the work the rest of his staff would have to re-key the next day. The lost billable time for two paralegals and one partner plus the receptionist salary would have more than tripled that figure. So let’s say $5000 even. That’s more than Michael is paying for the BDR for an entire year.
And what about the cost to his reputation had he not been able to recover the data and not been ready for court the next day? You can’t put a hard price on this but it would certainly have been much higher than $5000.
Even a small problem can quickly add up to large dollars in service fees, lost revenue and that most important commodity – reputation.
Regardless of the type of backup solution you decide is right for your company, you need to make sure that:
- Backups are run at an appropriate interval.
- Each backup is verified.
- Backup data is available off-site.
- Someone is monitoring backup success and failure.
If your company is one that provides a service, creates digital content or otherwise relies on technology to drive business you need to consider the impact of a disaster, big or small. Please feel free do download our white paper, 5 Steps to Disaster Preparedness for SMBs and start considering what your disaster recovery plan should look like.