Why SMBs Need a Backup & Disaster Recovery Plan

Backup & Disaster Recovery

Recent research by the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities revealed that natural disasters in Australia will cost as much as $33 billion per year by 2050. Floods, bushfires, landslides and everything Mother Nature throws our way can hurt small and medium-sized businesses.

With a little luck, a business might avoid a natural disaster, however, these are not the leading cause of data loss. Human error and cybercrime are the most common reasons SMBs lose data. An employee losing a laptop or downloading ransomware is a much more likely occurrence than a flood or fire. This isn’t to say that one is more important to worry about than the other; it just highlights the fact that the cause of data loss extends far beyond natural disasters.

Despite this, SMB owners fail to put appropriate backups and a disaster recovery plan in place. According to Symantec’s SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey, only 50 percent of SMBs reported having a disaster recovery plan. Of those surveyed without a plan, nearly half said disaster readiness was not a priority.

That’s a dangerous mindset to have. Think about it another way. How long could a business function without access to files like invoices, scheduling and emails? The answer for most SMBs is not very long. McGladrey & Pullen, a leading audit, tax and consulting organisation, conducted a survey on this topic, and the results showed that more than 40 percent of companies that lose access to their data for ten days or more are unable to fully recover. Simply put, every second that passes in the aftermath of a disaster without access to data is another step closer to closing permanently.

What’s more, an inability to recover all files can be just as damaging even if an SMB is able to reopen after a disaster. The Gartner Group, found that only six percent of companies that suffer a massive data loss are able to survive for more than two years. Regardless of whether it was a fire, human error, or cybercrime, recovering from a disaster is a challenge that SMBs must be prepared for if they want to stay in business.

This is where backup and disaster recovery come into play. An SMB that is protected with both of these will be able to resume operations quickly while swiftly regaining access to files and data. However, one common misconception business owners have when it comes to backups and disaster recovery is that they perform the same function. This is not the case. In order for your business to be able to confidently move forward after a disaster, having both in place is vital. Let’s take a look at the function of each one and why they are needed by SMBs.


As their name suggests, backups are simply copies of existing files stored, or backed up, somewhere else on a regular basis. These can be kept on-site or in the cloud and used to restore files to a current IT infrastructure. For example, should your IT systems become infected with Locky, backups can be used to avoid paying the ransom it demands for access to your files. You would be able to go back to the last moment when the malware wasn’t present, restore everything and get back up and running in a matter of hours or even minutes.

Backups can be used on a smaller scale as well. Workstations and laptops can be backed up, meaning nothing is lost forever should something happen to these devices. If a laptop is stolen or damaged, having backups in place will ensure the data on it is not lost as well. A new laptop can be purchased and then have all the files from the old one restored to it.

It is important to note that backups are only effective if there is an IT infrastructure in place to operate it. This is why alone, they are not enough. If something happens to your on-site servers and equipment, having backups will be useless until new ones have been acquired.

Disaster recovery

In order to be truly prepared for a disaster, be it natural or manmade, a disaster recovery plan must be in place. Should something happen to your servers, disaster recovery planning allows for the creation of a new environment where data, files and applications can operate. This is essential to have should an event like a fire or theft take place.

A Price Waterhouse Cooper report revealed that only one out of six small businesses would be able to continue operations without functioning IT systems. This highlights just how important it is to have a disaster recovery plan ready. It allows an SMB to keep the proverbial lights, while the damage is assessed and plans can be made to address problem areas.

The process works by creating a new environment, which is normally virtualised and operated from the cloud. SMBs gain the ability to keep IT systems, and business, operating until a new on-site solution can be secured. This new environment can be restored with backups, giving a company full functionality, hours after a catastrophic event takes place. This ensures that clients don’t need to toil with significant disruptions, avoids having employees sit around idly while still being paid, and guarantees that downtime doesn’t hinder your company’s ability to succeed.

The costs of downtime can add up quickly, which is something easy to forget. According to an EMC Global Data Protection Index survey, Australian businesses lost a staggering $65 billion in 2014 because of downtime causing disaster. With a disaster recovery plan in place, you will be able to do what it takes to carry on in the short-term, helping stem potential revenue losses which can be crippling for an SMB.

Of course, having this set up won’t do you any good if backups are not available. When on-site servers are destroyed, the data they contained is lost, too. Without backups, there is no way to regain this information apart from costly salvaging methods, which can also be quite time-consuming. In addition, you need to regularly test these two safeguards to ensure your organisation is ready for a disaster. Putting backups or disaster recovery measures in place without testing them is essentially a waste of money because there’s no guarantee your business can withstand a disaster.

Director of Empower IT, Salim Sukari says, “It is important to understand that backups and disaster recovery planning is not an either/or scenario. This is a common mistake small and medium-sized business owners make, and one that has severe consequences. In order for an organisation to stay in business after a disaster of any kind, it is absolutely necessary both be in place. This is the only way to guarantee total recovery of data and systems.”

If you need more information regarding backup and disaster recovery planning for your SMB, get in touch with the team at Empower IT.

Our experts understand the needs of SMBs and can create a plan that best fits your organisation. We offer top-of-the-line backups and disaster recovery planning that keeps small business running when a disaster strikes.