Data is the new millennium’s commodity, and the primary export of the Digital Age. We have entire industries that are now built on its retrieval and analysis, and everyone from retail titans to small business startups rely on it to some degree. As much as data can build a company, losing critical data can not only cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars, but can also damage its reputation and waste precious time in recovery attempts.
How does data loss cause system downtime, and how can system downtime be mitigated? The following is an evaluation and explanation of what causes data loss and what it can mean for companies, big and small.
What causes data loss?
The most scandalous and oft-reported cause of data downtime are attempts at stealing, breaching and otherwise hacking company data. Usually through malware, ransomware, or card skimming, hackers can access and disseminate crucial information that can not only damage your company’s reputation but also risk customer information and create a crisis communication nightmare. As the risk for both personal and enterprise data breaches increases, security from hackers should become a priority for IT professionals.
While enterprise hacking is certainly on the rise, the majority of data loss, however, can be attributed to much less malicious means. Operational errors and systems failures make up 46% of data loss situations and cause the bulk of system downtime. Equipment failure and server crashes can send your company scrambling for hardcopies and old backups. If these alternatives aren’t maintained (or worse, aren’t in place at all), recovering and rebuilding crucial documents can stall projects and waste manpower.
Fires, floods, and other natural disasters rank number two when it comes to data loss, and are the cause of about 36% of all data loss problems. Recovering crucial company data from a natural disaster may seem like an afterthought in the scope of physically rebuilding your office and ensuring that your employees are safe. However, it is imperative to incorporate data recovery into your disaster plan to actually help ease your company back the transition back to normalcy.
Finally, human error makes up about 19% of data loss situations, and can be anything as mild as accidentally spilling your coffee over your computer to as severe as deleting entire databases off of a server. If employees are not aware of security and safety procedures, your company can be at risk for an accidental systems malfunction.
What are the risks of data loss?
From a strictly monetary standpoint, downtime caused from data loss can cost a company $42,000 per hour on average, and this is only in terms of mission-critical data. Per incident, mission-critical data recovery costs a company an average of $341,000. Beyond the numbers though, attempts at recovering mission-critical data substantially slows employee production, which turns attention away from prospective business opportunities and ultimately potential revenue. This can exacerbate an already financially stressful situation.
Moreover, a costly and delayed reaction to data loss and system downtime can be damaging to your reputation. Employees, deflated by the extra work needed to duplicate and recover crucial data, may be less enthusiastic to clock in to their job. Customers and clients may be less inclined to work with a company that was careless in handling sensitive information. Partners may view your company as more of a risk. While you may be able to gain revenue back, returning trust on all fronts can be an excruciatingly long-term process.
What prevents data loss?
Two simple actions can be taken to prevent critical data loss and reduce system downtime:
First, establish multiple data backup components for your company data, with one secure data backup somewhere off-site. Many IT professionals adhere to the 3-2-1 rule: backup 3 different copies of important documents in 2 different formats with at least 1 of your backup files saved in a server off-site. This ensures that, should your office suffer from physical damage, crucial data will be saved safely away from the site and available for you to restore.
Second, set-up routine backup schedules for primary and tertiary data and make sure key personnel adhere to them. Many backup services allow you to automate a backup process regularly, but manually checking your backup files every now and again is recommended to ensure that essential files and programs are both backed up and up-to-date.
The following infographic from data backup expert, SingleHop, further outlines what your company risks when data is not backed up routinely. Remember: if data is the digital currency that keeps your company afloat, your company is then truly only as good as its last backup. The best way to defend yourself from system downtime is to have a preventative backup plan in place.