Disaster Recovery Planning: What Happens If You Lose Customer Data?

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We have all heard the horror stories of simple mistakes that lead to costly business disasters.

  • A link that was clicked on that shouldn’t have been.
  • An attachment that was opened when it shouldn’t have been.
  • A contractor who stole data from one of the servers, or from the company’s data center.

Doesn’t it seems like there’s an eleven o’clock story every other day about the next data breach or data loss that then leads to the need for attorneys and public relations firms to clean up the mess?

Not always, but more often than not, the damage to a business when suffering a data loss is very difficult to overcome. This is why disaster recovery planning is a critical business need.

Planning for the unknown can be hard. The cost to hire someone and implement a technology disaster recovery plan (BDR) can seem close to impossible. But how unlikely is it that an IT disaster will happen to your company? With the combination of data breaches, malware, hackers, natural disasters, hardware failures and human error, the reality is that data loss is only a matter of when, not if.

The facts

Let’s look at some concrete facts about how data loss affects businesses just like yours.

A staggering 30% percent of businesses have been impacted by natural disasters, and a simple power outage could put your whole business at grave risk. In fact, around 40% percent of businesses never reopen after a catastrophic event and over 50% percent close within two years.

Typically, the companies that survive data losses, no matter the reason, are larger. They are able to survive because they have the funds to operate through losses from consequences like the decline in revenue and lack of consumer confidence.

 

Top 5 reasons why disaster recovery planning is crucial

  • Weakest link. The cliche’ ‘you’re only as strong as your weakest link’ rings as true today as when it was first spoken. To use a boat and sailing analogy, you can have the best crafted ships ever built, but if your crew can’t see the iceberg beyond your line of sight, the expert craftsmanship won’t matter on impact. No business is immune to data loss and technology disasters, but here are two practical things you can do to prevent them and quickly recover, when they do happen:
    First, disaster recovery planning would ideally involve ensuring that your production servers in a top tier data center with no single point of failure on the power and network connections. Second, your disaster recovery backup servers would be at another data center at least 45 miles away in case of a severe natural disaster. This would ensure that you’re virtually protected from any downtime, and you have put your business in position to survive the most brutal IT disasters.

 

  • Getting customers and clients back will be very hard. The Consumer Bank and Trust is a tough creditor. Once you break trust with your clients buying-confidence, they close their account and rarely come back to buy. Customer retention (and acquisition) is hard enough without some sort of disaster, but customer re-acquisition is extremely hard and even more expensive. It’s especially difficult when your customers are losing thousands of dollars per minute of downtime, which is not uncommon in some industries. Most IT disasters are deemed absolutely unacceptable to end users because they expect perfection, unfortunately. As with any relationship, a break in trust takes years to heal from. It takes action, perseverance, and it takes time to build that lost trust back. Getting your clients back and gaining new ones, after a data loss is hard. Having a plan to counter this is paramount.

 

  • Your clients and customers want their data to be secure. Unfortunately, your customers and clients expect perfection. They want to know that when they give you their contact info, payments information, address, and other sensitive data, it’s secure and safe. Your buyers and customers also expect you to be transparent and accountable if an issue does arise. Let’s not forget that in a global economy, you have more competition than even before. It’s easy for one of your potential buyers or customers to find some other company to buy from. So why give them a reason to stop paying you because you didn’t do some upfront planning to avoid a data disaster? Buyers are less forgiving than they once were and most demand perfection because they know that if your company can’t provide it, the next competitor in line is ready to give it their best shot to win their business.

 

  • Humans make mistakes. People aren’t perfect. They’re messy, emotional, have hurts and wounds and because of these characteristics, make mistakes. Ever accidentally saved over a word document or had your computer crash before you could save an important file? You’re not alone. We’ve all been there. Even the most cautious employees, who’ve had the best IT and technology training can forget to properly execute a step in your data security process. While very common, these mistakes are the hardest to prevent and correct. Having things in place through your disaster recovery plan, like online data backups, redundant firewalls, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software, ensures your data is backed-up and secured. Often times the most important way to prevent human error is in process improvements that focuses on quality assurance activities. A disaster recovery plan that incorporates testing and validation is the best remedy.

 

  • Hardware issues and failure. Even though modern-day hardware is fairly resistant to failures, most technology hardware falls short of perfection. No business is immune to hard disk or internet connection failures. It can be costly for your company to eliminate these single points of failure in your infrastructure and having a disaster recovery plan benefits you because this failure doesn’t interrupt your service or cause data loss, like it normally would. Ideally, the more cost-effective solution over building your own top-of-the-line data center, would be to outsource your IT infrastructure to an outsourced IT and technology company like Cooperative Systems. That way, you don’t have to rely on your own capital expenses while your data and network are protected by the the strictest protection policies, while avoiding service interruptions.

 

It’s okay if you have yet to do your disaster recovery planning. That’s why companies like ours exist!

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