5 Steps to Prevent Data Loss When Disaster Hits

Small businesses are lacking when it comes to disaster relief plans.  A recent study by Symantec found that 57 percent of small businesses have no disaster recovery plan in place.

That inaction can have serious consequences for small business owners. Scott Moyer, director of business development at data recovery services provider DriveSavers, offers the following tips for small businesses to prevent data loss from a disaster.

Plan for the worst

"As an entrepreneur, your files are your livelihood and without a data recovery plan, losing your files could mean losing your business," Moyer said. "If you’re prepared for the worst and making proactive decisions, you are increasing the likelihood that your business will not only succeed, but flourish."

Moyer suggests business owners start by creating an emergency action plan for all data associated with your business.

"This plan includes a complete inventory of your business’ storage-based hardware," Moyer said. "In addition, this is an excellent time to research a data recovery vendor. By conducting this research ahead of time, when you aren’t distressed from a data loss, you can ensure that you’re working with a reputable, secure data recovery vendor. Some data recovery providers offer discounts if you are a member of their business partner program. When researching a data recovery vendor, it’s important to ask about that vendor’s manufacturer authorization to open drives without voiding a warranty, security and industry certifications to ensure data is safe while out of your in-house secure network and recovery methods and capabilities."

[How a Disaster Recovery Plan Can Help Save Your Business]

Always back up and protect

"The best protection is prevention," Moyer said. "Invest in redundant backup system. Establish a structured backup procedure to make copies of all critical data files, using software compatible with the operating system and applications. Periodically test the backups to verify that data, especially databases and other critical files, are being backed up properly. Keep at least one verified copy of critical data offsite."

In addition, Moyer says businesses must make sure to always be using software that is up-to-date to ensure optimal protection for your business.

"Never assume that your computer is protected from incoming viruses because you have protection software, be sure to scan all incoming data for corruption," Moyer said. "By enabling your computer with backup software and virus protection, you will drastically decrease the chances of losing important files."

Data missing? Don’t panic!

"Sometimes the simplest of answers can be the ultimate solution," Moyer said. "Before you panic, double check to ensure you haven’t misplaced your file. Use the 'search' box located in 'Start' button on the bottom tool bar of your computer. If your file doesn't appear using the search function, double check the recycle bin or trash on your computer's desktop."

Leave it to the professionals

"As a small business, it is important to watch every nickel and dime and understand where priorities lie when spending money on vendors," Moyer said. "But when it comes to your losing your data, it’s time to throw that do-it-yourself attitude out the window. Do not attempt recover your data personally by using any type of diagnostic or repair tools. Doing so may cause further damage or permanent data loss. Remember, the first recovery attempt is the most successful. Play it safe and send hardware to a professional."

To ensure optimal protection, Moyer suggests businesses do their research when searching for a data recovery vendor for disasters.

"But before you trust a data recovery service provider with your data, do your homework and research the vendor," Moyer said. "Cheap services are typically that way for a reason.  Make sure the data recovery vendor is reputable by checking for proof of industry certifications and security protocols. You do not want a data breach that includes your critical financial data (or worse yet, your customers’ data) stolen."

Know your recovery ABCs

"Knowing the signs of a drive failing will help you optimize your chances for recovery," Moyer said. "If you are hearing clicking, grinding or whirring sounds, shut down your computer immediately and do not use data recovery or utility software. The use of data recovery or utility software can potentially cause data loss. Next, unplug the power to the computer before removing the hard drive. Hard drives are extremely sensitive to static electricity and physical jarring. Also, do not power up a device that has obvious physical damage or is making unusual sounds. Lastly, turn your hardware in to the reputable data recovery provider that you have researched in your emergency action plan."

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