Most small and medium-sized businesses have some type of backup system in place. Anyone who has extensively worked on a network realizes that it’s not a matter of if a server will fail but when. However, backup alone cannot address the problem of the lost work productivity a business faces during the period of time it takes to get data loaded onto a new server. What allows you to maintain your uptime during server failure is a business continuity solution.

Customers today expect shorter turnarounds and they don’t want to hear the excuse that your server is down. PricewaterhouseCooper researched the effect of downtime and data loss on SMBs and found that approximately 70 percent of small businesses that experience a major data loss go out of business within a year. Author Bruce T. Blithe says that 75 percent of companies without business continuity plans fail within three years of a disaster.

To guard against a similar fate, SMB owners should consider:

“When a server fails, how much business can we afford to lose during the downtime?”

For example, if your Exchange server goes out and all email is down, can your business afford to wait while you or your MSP get in touch with the hardware manufacturer, have someone come replace parts or do repairs, then restore the data drive? With a backup-only solution, this can often take several days or longer. In the meantime, you’re bleeding time and money through lost business opportunities and missed customer contact. Compare that to an all-in-one backup, business continuity, and disaster recovery solution like Axcient’s, and the downtime drops to five minutes with no loss of productivity or customer business.

To further emphasize the risks SMBs take with a backup-only plan, imagine the following scenarios:

  • A law firm’s motherboard goes out and its five attorneys and staff are without server or email access. They call the hardware manufacturer or MSP and schedule the repair for the earliest time slot 24 hours later. By the time the motherboard is repaired and systems are back up and running, it’s been nearly two business days. At a billing rate of $200 per hour for each attorney, the firm lost $15k in billable hours. Even worse, the firm suffered a loss of client confidence, satisfaction, and business, leading to a drop in referrals and even lost clients.
  • During tax season, a financial services business loses the server that houses their accounting software. The business was doing regular file and folder backups, but not taking server images. As a result, the business is in a world of hurt: they may get the data back, but without a full server image they’ll have to reconfigure the system and reinstate preferences for the applications used to create the tax documents. As a result of the additional time and work, the business has to file extensions, redo forms, and break the news to customers that their refunds will be delayed. The amount of client dissatisfaction and damage to the business’ reputation is unimaginable.

No matter what type of SMB you are, whenever you’re unable to respond to communications or access files, you’re losing valuable time and business. A recent study by a consumer software security company quantified this, finding that for SMBs with fewer than 100 employees, a single day of downtime for a single server costs an average of $12,500.

To consider the full cost of losing your data and applications, you must add up:

  1. The billable cost of company time lost per hour, times the number of hours it takes to be fully back up and running
  2. The soft costs of dissatisfied customers, lost repeat business, and lost referrals

File Backup is Not Enough

Backup is only one part of what SMBs should be thinking about for their data protection. Like in the financial services example, it’s not just about backing up the data, but also saving the system state and preferences that you’ve set up to run your business efficiently. If you’ve ever had to reconfigure a system from scratch, you know that it’s a time-sink that can add days or even weeks to getting your business back on track.

Each year, we’re using a rapidly increasing number of applications to run our businesses and our lives. This is why it’s more crucial than ever, when looking at a data protection solution, to consider business continuity as one of the three essential components of an onsite backup and offsite disaster recovery solution. Axcient offers the triple-threat of data protection as the only single-platform solution with backup, business continuity, and disaster recovery. If you’re not considering all three of these elements for your backup plan, you’re missing something that could risk the health of your entire business.

Justin Moore