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Recovering Your Data: Practical Steps For SMBs


Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into data recovery. Recovering data is an integral component of any disaster recovery plan (DRP), but despite its critical nature, with the right tools in place, it’s possible to fully recover your data.

Of course, the best defense is proactive; but things happen. When they do, swift action is imperative. If disaster strikes, will you be prepared?

Recovering Data: Do You Have A Plan?

There are few things more concerning to an SMB than data loss. Data loss can happen for many reasons, but whether it’s because of human error, natural disasters, software failure, hardware malfunctions, or malicious intent, the result is the same. Data loss means lost business, lost revenue, and potentially devastating consequences to your brand image.

Data Loss and SMBs By The Numbers

Statistically, data loss tends to impact small to mid-size businesses (SMBs) more frequently. It’s often because they either don’t have an in-house IT presence or don’t have a comprehensive backup and data recovery strategy. 

To better illustrate these claims, let’s look at the numbers. According to data compiled by HashedOut:

  • 43 percent of SMBs don’t have a cybersecurity plan
  • 60 percent of SMBs don’t think it could happen to them
  • 63 percent of all SMBs experienced a data breach in 2020
  • The average downtime of a breach for SMBs is anywhere between four and 48 hours
  • 74 percent of all breaches involve external malicious activity
  • 93 percent of companies without a data recovery plan will be out of business in a year if they suffer a major data disaster
  • About a quarter of all SMBs switched to remote work without a data loss prevention plan

The last couple of tidbits are most concerning, especially when you consider what we’ve all been dealing with over the past 12 months. Many businesses made a rapid switch to working remotely, but often without adequate planning. 

To facilitate remote workflows, new third-party cloud-based software was onboarded quickly. That, coupled with the challenges of shared home computers and unsecured networks, created a landscape ripe for data loss. Cybercrime surged, as did data loss for other reasons. As a result, IBM reported a 40 percent increase in malware attacks in 2020, with an average cost of $10,000 per incident. According to Malware Bytes, 20 percent of reported data loss can be traced to a remote worker. 

Keep in mind, just because your systems are in the cloud doesn’t mean they are safe. While cloud computing offers more robust security and data recovery options than the typical SMB could manage on-premise, nothing is 100 percent infallible. Ensuring business continuity requires redundancy at every level, and a good backup and recovery plan is a pillar. 

Data Recovery Action Steps: What To Do If You’ve Experienced Data Loss

If you’ve already experienced data loss, there is no time to waste. Some data loss is a little easier to triage and restore than others, so it’s essential to understand where the failure occurred so you can choose the best strategy.

1. Do You Need Data Recovery or Disaster Recovery?

Broadly speaking, there are two reasons that you will need to recover data. One is if your computers and hard drives are intact, but your data is corrupted, missing, or inaccessible. In this case, you would need data recovery. 

The second would be if your devices and hard drives are no longer working either, for example if you had a flood, fire, or any other catastrophic event. This scenario would indicate the need for disaster recovery. 

If you only need to recover lost data, the process is much quicker. Using the right tools, you can probably get back up and running within a few minutes. Plus, though this might seem a bit too simple, it’s not uncommon for files to have been deleted accidentally—so checking your trash or recycle bin ought to be your first task before you launch into full panic mode. 

Disaster recovery could be significantly more complex and depends on your backup strategy and whether company apps and systems beyond the location have been impacted. If your data is held on-premise and your servers are unavailable, you would have to rely on external backups to restore your systems. 

2. Find Out Why the Data Loss Occurred

Was your data loss the result of a virus or ransomware? Did you recently deploy new SaaS applications? Or was it because of user error? The steps you take to recover your data will hinge on the cause. 

When rebuilding data from a backup, you’ll want to restore from a point in time when you know your systems were operational and working as they should. For example, if the data loss was caused by a virus in an email link, you’ll need to choose a restore point that is before the link was accessed. Same for SaaS issues – if you can pinpoint exactly when you installed the culprit software, you can minimize the loss. 

3. Determine The Value of The Data

Ask yourself – is the data lost worth retrieving? Of course, if it’s accounting, sales, ecommerce, or any kind of transactional data, you need it, but if nothing significant happened during the time systems were down, it might not be worth the time and effort. 

If you’re using simple SaaS-based data recovery solutions, the process is not time or labor-intensive at all. However, if you don’t have a data recovery system in place, it might require outside IT support, which could be costly. Think about what’s been lost, what can be rebuilt, and the cost implications of every activity.

4. Check and Document Your Backups

Most SMBs don’t think about backups until they need them. A proactive backup strategy ensures your vital data is available to you when you need to restore. Without a backup in place, restoration could be challenging at best and impossible at worst. 

Testing your backups periodically should also be part of your recovery plan as it ensures you have a clean copy to back up from. For example, if a group of files is corrupt and has been that way for a year, using that as a restoration point won’t help. 

In best practice, you need a cloud backup, an on-premise backup, and a copy stored in a third location. This is called the 3-2-1 method. Test your backups frequently and run periodic drills to be sure you are comfortable with the restoration process. It also helps to document your backups with detailed notes, so if the task falls to someone else, that person has everything they need to succeed. 

5. Assess The Condition of Your Hard Drives

If your hardware is working fine, but all your data is gone or corrupt, it might be time to call in outside help. If there’s even a chance your hard drives are infected with ransomware or other malicious software, your restoration efforts might not get you where you need to be. Restore from a backup only when you know it’s safe to do so. If malicious actors have control of your systems, your backups might be at risk as well.

Going Forward: What You Can Do To Prevent Data Loss

If you’ve ever experienced data loss, you already know the value of having a proactive loss prevention plan in place. A comprehensive plan includes:

  • Create a DRP.

Data recovery is an integral component of a disaster recovery plan. However, since any number of disasters can cause data loss, it’s good to be prepared for anything and everything. In a perfect world, you might never have to deploy some of your DRP strategies, but if anything happens, you’re prepared. That and a nice cup of herbal tea will help you sleep better at night!

  • Establish A Backup Plan – And Maintain It! 

We see it so often with SMBs – from the executive team to boots on the ground, employees wear many hats. Because of this, a backup plan should be part of your workflow. A data recovery plan depends on having a clean backup ready to deploy when you need it. Ensure all stakeholders know who’s responsible for overseeing your backup strategy, so they know who to come to when data loss occurs. 

  • Centralize Your Data.

Continuous cloud backups are an essential component of data recovery. You’ll always have a complete backup stored securely off-premise in the cloud, ensuring instant availability, even if you’ve lost your primary location. 

How Rewind Helps

Rewind’s cloud-based backup and data recovery solutions for platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, and QuickBooks Online have received over 1,000 5-star reviews.

We’ve made it our business to take the pain out of data recovery. With Rewind in place, you can stop worrying about what could happen and focus on what you do best. Reach out to learn more or activate your trial today. 

Special thanks to our friends at Rewind for their insights on this topic.
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