Guest Author - Violette DeSantis
Every business needs a data protection plan. Small business owners need to protect themselves as much as a big business does. Although small business is at a disadvantage, a home office or small office may not employ an IT professional of any sort on or offsite.
Before you can figure out how you will protect your data, make a comprehensive list of all your business computing. Include online and offline hardware and content.
To start list all personal computers and laptops, external hard drives, flash drives, any device which stores data in your office. Record how much disk space is available and how much is used on each. At the same time you are gathering data, if you havenít done so already, now might be a good time to record important information about each device (purchase info, warranty info, serial numbers, upgrade info, tech support contact info etc.) Keep all information together with manuals and necessary software disks. Include notes on which operating system and software you use, including the version. This information is always handy when you need tech support.
Next make a list of all online services you use to store additional data or that you use for a particular business need. This may be something many businesses, both large and small, overlook. Think about your email account(s), website, online images, online project and task management sites and social media. If you donít already have a list of various accounts associated with your business, make a complete list during this exercise (account login info and account manager). Social media may not seem like a consideration, but if youíve been networking extensively on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and others, you need assurances of what content is yours and if you can export it to back it up or for future use elsewhere.
It may take a day or so to figure out, but you must find how any business data not directly in your control gets backed up. Find out how and when this occurs and what the recovery plan is when something goes wrong. It may be possible that you are responsible and have no recourse if something happens to your data. Little things like daily backups may sound safe, but consider if those daily backups continually replace themselves and you donít realize there was a problem until a few days later but your data canít be recovered now because it was backed up again with the problem content.
For storage of your in-house data, look for backup plans to perform remote sync backups at necessary intervals suited to your business needs. Know what they can backup. Some plans for personal use offer backup plans of a personal computer, but not of external drives. If you manage content on an external drive youíll need to make further accommodations for backing up extra content.
Prioritize your lists by what is most important to your business, whether data files or business contacts and act immediately on creating a comprehensive plan to protect your data. If you are a small business, find reviews of companies that help restore data from damaged or failed drives if a backup is not available to you. Keep this list handy. Depending on what you lost, a few hundred or thousand dollars may be feasible if it means quickly getting your business up to speed.