The financial, technology, retail and media sectors were more likely to experience data loss over the past five years, a 2012 survey found. Data loss has direct implications for the bottom line: If you lose your customer data, you cannot easily draw on those relationships or target those customers for future sales. Data recovery strategies may be able to help you recover some lost information, but are not a cure-all. Ensure your business is prepared for a data disaster by planning for the worst, developing a policy and training all employees in data management best practices.
Causes of Data Loss
Chances are, you’ve lost data before in some manner. At best, this was an inconvenience. At worst, this directly impacted your business. Common causes of data loss include:
- Data lost if a computer or an application crashed during use
- Data accidentally deleted or trashed
- Data lost when the file became corrupted
- Data stolen by a hacker or data breach
- Data stolen or deleted by rogue employees
- Data lost during hard drive failure, external drive failure or other hardware malfunction
Data Storage: What it can and can’t do
Data storage media, including hard drives and USB drives, do fail and can be subjected to environmental hazards. If the only backup of your business documentation rests on an external hard drive in your office and the office burns down or a thief steals the drive, you lose all your data. If you had one copy in-house and keep another copy
stored in the cloud, you will be able to get business up and running without losing that
information. However, if you only backup to the cloud every three months, you do risk losing data generated between backups. Automated backup tools allow you to schedule and automate your data backups, which can ensure that you are able to get up and running with the most up-to-date data in the event of data loss.
Following Data Management Best Practices
When you ensure data redundancy by maintaining multiple copies of data, you can prevent data loss from becoming a disaster. Ensure that all staff members understand the risks of data loss, properly safeguard their data, backup data regularly and notify management in the event of data loss or data breach. Create a policy that spells out when, how and how often employees should backup their data. Cover what happens to employee data when staff leaves and what measures should be taken to protect laptops and devices taken off premises.
Additionally, train employees on safe computing practices including recognizing phishing attempts, developing a strong password, protecting password safety, avoiding unlocked wireless networks and locking computers when not in use. This helps employees protect enterprise information from hackers.
Most small businesses do not adequately protect enterprise data and are very vulnerable should a data breach or data loss occur. Educating staff, developing a policy and practicing good data management habits do curb the emotional, financial and logistical impact of data loss. While you may not be able to prevent data disasters from happening, you will recover faster with a policy in place.