Security Isn’t Your Biggest Headache – It’s Backup

Security and cloud were the two biggest news items in technology in 2015. Backup should have been. Here’s why.


Most business in the United States (and really, worldwide) falls in the ‘small and medium’ category.   By and large, these are not operations with tech-savvy owners, they’re businesses founded on the passion of one or two people who’ve built everything from bakeries to machine shops; they’ve survived the ‘three years and out’ threshold; they’ve negotiated the multifaceted minefields of growth and still remained profitable.  They’re beginning to pay themselves back.

And, chances are, their information technology installations are the equivalent of two soup cans and a string.  What none of these people know is that the biggest threat they face isn’t the loss of key personnel, a too-greedy landlord, or a supplier who ceases operations – it’s losing that three years’ worth of data.

Below are seven basic, have-to-know facts about backup and disaster recovery:

Fact #1: A meteor isn’t going to fall on your office.  The truth is that natural causes are responsible for somewhere less than 5% of all data loss.  (While you’re even less likely to be hit by lightning, nature and its minions – as well as security breaches – are far down the list of possible threats).  The most likely cause of data loss?  That underpaid accounting clerk the owner put in charge of the company server (human error causes over one half of all data loss).

Fact #2: You really do need to back up everything.  The statistics bear out that somewhere less than half of small to medium businesses do any sort of backup at all – of those, around 30% only back up data – and only 15% of those back up their server images.

It gets worse, folks.

Of that 15% (around 5-7% of all SMB’s) nearly half of them have some form of virtualization installed.   Of that number, only around a third back up their virtual servers at all.

Put another way – only 2-3% of SMB’s back up their systems in such a manner that they would be able to recover.

There is no cloud - it's just someone else's computer

Fact #3: There is no cloud.  Just someone else’s computer.  Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that cloud computing is the current darling of data storage.  The early-adopter stage is finished, and the consolidation of cloud providers and MSP’s is in full swing.  Pricing is in a full-on race to the bottom, with commoditization being the only outcome.  This volatility alone should give pause to any consideration of sending your data to someone else’s repository.  While over 60% of SMB’s are either using or considering cloud for data storage, most of that usage is for archive – it turns out most SMB owners view keeping their data close by (preferably in the next room) is the best alternative.

Fact #4: It isn’t the backup – it’s the failure to test it.  Less than 15% of SMB’s have proven their backups by testing.  Of these, most are still using tape in some form.  Even worse news – over half the time, attempted restorations via tape are unsuccessful.  The takeaway?  Untested backups are worthless.  Aging technologies are even more so.


Fact #5: Everything takes longer than you think. The average tested recovery of SMB data takes over 30 hours (we might as well agree that it takes a week).    Less than 10% of SMB’s have any idea about their RPO (recovery point objectives) and RTO (recovery time objectives).  The bad news?   Over 80% of businesses which are closed due to data failure for one week or longer go out of business.  These two data points alone should be enough to cause SMB owners to consider a backup and disaster recovery plan the number one agenda item at the next manager’s meeting.

Fact #6: Inadequate funding kills most businesses. The monetary cost of disaster kills the rest. As I mentioned above, over 80% of SMB’s which are down due to data for a week or more go under.  Of the 20% which recover from a catastrophic data loss, the average cost is over $70K.   While a forward thinking business will have insurance to cover data loss, over 60% do not.

Fact #7: There’s only two kinds of storage – that which has failed, and that which will.  While meantime between failures (MTBF) on spinning disk has increased dramatically, the idea that a company can trust a complex mechanical device to run until it’s replaced is a fool’s bet – but it’s one which nearly 90% of SMB’s take, as they have neither a regular technology refresh program or an adequate disaster recovery plan incorporating comprehensive backup.  (It’s amazing that most business owners think nothing of trading their car every three years, but retain their IT infrastructure for an average of seven – well beyond its functional life).

The good news?   New technology really can help.  There are several solutions for these problems which don’t break the bank.  Contact us today to learn more!


(Cymbidium Systems is a Pacific Northwest based value added reseller with a 35 year legacy of assisting small and medium business.  They have practices in data protection, security, and general networking.)


About the Author:

Will Noble

Will Noble wears a lot of hats at Cymbidium, including editor of the Cymbidium Press. He has over 30 years of experience in the VAR channel, including owning his own VAR and working for a couple of F-1000 distributors. While he's won several national sales awards, he gets his biggest kick out of solving business challenges for customers and engineering solutions for them.