October 2, 2009
-- Perception is not reality when it comes to disaster recovery preparedness in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) world.
In a former life, I stocked shelves and handled inventory for a large, upscale retail outfit. Being the geek that I am, I took notice of the IT setup in the store, including a small tape drive buried under boxes and irregular garments. It was painfully obvious that it was not being used properly. In fact, I doubted whether any of the staff knew what it was.
Eventually I asked a manager about it and was informed that yes, it was part of the store manager's job to perform daily tape backups of the store's transaction and sales information.
However, in my tenure as stock-boy extraordinaire that tape drive was never used. Not once. It boggled my mind. But it seems that some things never change.
According to the findings of Symantec's "2009 SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey," reveal that SMBs are confident in their DR plans. Eighty-two percent of respondents say they are somewhat/very satisfied with their disaster plans, and 84% say they feel somewhat/very protected in case of a disaster.
The reality of the situation, despite how confident they feel, is grim. According to the survey, SMBs do not back up their computer systems as frequently as they should: Only 23% backup their computer systems daily and less than half back up weekly.
The average SMB has experienced three outages within the past 12 months, with the leading causes being virus or hacker attacks, power outages or natural disasters. The approximate impact on the bottom line per outage is $15,000 per day. That's real money for small businesses.
The large retail chain I worked for is still in business. They continue to thrive. I can't speak to whether they have experienced outages or whether downtime has cost them cash or customers.
Perhaps the perception-reality gap is more evidence that consolidating and centralizing the backup process makes sense. Having a tape drive at a remote location doesn't ensure your data will be protected when an outage hits.
Symantec makes several useful recommendations to SMB customers in its report, which can be found on the company's website
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