For small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), an IT network failure can be devastating because they don't have the resources of large corporations to bounce back from such disasters. Preparation may be the only course for them to avoid failure and survive with the least damage if it occurs.
Small business teams must be proactive in recognizing the eventuality of a cyber attack or human error that can cause data loss and disrupt business continuity.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO HELP PREVENT A FAILURE
Being proactive is an essential step for preparation against a disaster.
There are two ways to determine how to best prepare to prevent potential failure of your infrastructure. First, you need to identify the weaknesses throughout your systems, and second, determine how you are going to eliminate those weaknesses and protect your network.
Determine how and why your system could fail. Examine all aspects of your hardware and software. Assess all the internal and external factors that could contribute to failure of your networks.
Here are some questions you need to know the answers to:
- Does customer access and/or employee productivity often stall because of downed systems? In these situations, how quickly is your IT support able to minimize the damage?
- Can you say with certainty that your business will be back online and able to access lost data with minimal disruption in case of failure?
- Your critical data should be backed up frequently. The data on personal laptops, iPads and other mobile devices should also be backed up. Are all these steps being taken, and how often?
- Are all backups stored in a location off-site and are they quickly accessible in the event of corruption, fire or flood?
- Are you using any custom made software? Can it be reinstalled and updated when needed?
- Are your systems truly protected from hackers and viruses? Do you change passwords when employees leave the company?
- How often do you test your backup processes?
The answers to all these questions should give you a clear picture of your network's ability to survive in case of a catastrophe.
Five steps to take to protect your network
Backup files every day
As catastrophic as data loss is, the number of businesses that still are not backing up their network is unbelievable. According to the Symantec Small to Medium Sized Businesses (SMB) data, only 23% of SMBs are backing up their data on a daily basis and fewer than 50% are backing up data weekly.
Any number of events can result in data loss, so the importance of frequently backing up your network cannot be overstated. Many services will even backup any changed data every hour.
Think about your needs and how often files you use change, and build your backup strategy accordingly.
Ensure backup procedures are checked regularly
Many times business owners think that they have a backup system in place only to find out after it’s too late that it hasn’t been working properly. It may seem like your files are being backed up daily, however, the backup could have become corrupt or it is not backing up huge chunks of critical data.
Check your backup procedures regularly to ensure they are working properly in order to be sure that ALL of your data can be recovered.
In the age of BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Devices) it is also important to frequently backup data on your employees' personal laptops, iPads or Blackberrys, so make sure you have a procedure in place to check those backups as well.
Make sure updated virus protection and firewalls are always enabled
Far too many companies either have no virus protection, expired virus software licenses, or disabled virus programs that aren’t running at all. This makes their business technology vulnerable to virus attacks from emails, spam, data downloads, and disreputable websites.
Further, because of inadequate firewall protection about 40% of small to medium businesses will have their network accessed by a hacker. Chances are, when these businesses are attacked they will be entirely unaware it is happening. In order to protect your valuable data and assets, ensure your virus protection is adequate, up-to-date and functioning properly and that your firewall is intact.
Finally, don’t forget to update security patches and change passwords when an employee leaves in order to deter hacking attempts.
Monitor server drives
Dangerously full server drives can bring their own set of problems, ranging from program and server crashes to sluggish email delivery. Proactive monitoring and maintenance of your server can spare your business a lot of problems down the road.
Regularly check critical built-in logs
Very few problems with technology emerge suddenly. These problems typically progress over time and evolve into more serious problems.
Frequently review your critical built-in log files to help identify the problem before it has gotten out of control and wreaks havoc on your business infrastructure.
EXTRA HELP FOR YOUR BUSINESS
We now know IT system failures have very serious consequences for SMBs. We also know that you can avoid such failures by being proactive! As the saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". We've built our operations around this mindset and encourage other businesses to do the same.
Many SMBs are now turning to cloud-based services and virtualized backup solutions to mitigate downtimes and network failures. Virtualization and cloud computing have enabled cost-efficient business continuity by allowing entire servers to be grouped into one software bundle or virtual server - this includes all data, operating systems, applications, and patches.
This simplifies the backup process and allows for quick data restoration when needed. Check out these and the many other options available to businesses today to find the best solution for you.