No Exceptions: Three Reasons All SMBs Need An Automated Offsite Backup

Most small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) should be familiar with the statistics concerning ransomware attacks, disasters and data loss. Such events, unfortunately, regularly plague SMBs. In case your memory needs refreshing, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is often reported as saying 40 percent of businesses that experience a disaster do not reopen. Those same reports note FEMA warns another 25 percent of those that do reopen fail within one year due to the disaster. 

Disaster planning—a necessary defense—commonly takes a variety of forms. From regularly scheduling local backups of an important system to deploying complex, well-researched and carefully written plans designed to enable rapid recovery from an alternative site, SMBs rely upon many approaches. Whichever method your organization adopts, ensure an automated offsite backup is part of the mix. 

Multiple government agencies—including the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)–recommend using remote backups. The US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is another respected authority advocating the use of remote backups, noting “online and cloud storage backup services can help protect against data loss and provide encryption as an added level of security.” 

Backup solutions that automatically transfer the organization’s systems and production data to the cloud fulfill a critical role. Configured properly, these services enable an SMB to restore operations, including from an alternative location, should an interruption or crisis occur due to such common events as fires, natural disasters, hardware failures and even theft. 

 All SMBs dependent upon application data, production databases, proprietary information or similar files and information stored locally need an automated offsite backup. Rarely are there any true exceptions, if ever. Here’s three reasons why. 

1. Automated offsite backups protect against onsite disasters

The variety of ways disasters can impact an SMB store, office, facility, production site, headquarters or satellite location is almost never ending. Broken pipes, lightning strikes, floods, fires, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes and theft are but a few examples of disasters that can destroy an SMB’s systems and data. 

 Automated offsite backups, properly configured and maintained, protect against such operations-suspending disasters by transferring production-dependent systems, data and even configuration and settings information to a secure server at a different location. Depending upon the information and disaster in question, properly structured offsite backups can even enable rapidly recovering an SMB’s operations from an alternative location, should circumstances require. 

 Yet, forgetting to implement proper backups or overlooking the importance of this key disaster recovery component are among the most common mistakes SMBs make. Properly backing up data is, in fact, one of the most common technology mistakes occurring within SMBs today, along with ineffective disaster planning and weak security. 

2. Automated offsite backups defend against malicious attacks and accidents

Cybercriminals are working diligently and employing sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies, among other methods, to improve the effectiveness of their malicious efforts. As a result, ransomware attacks—to use but one example—have become much more prevalent and devastating. 

A continually evolving menace, ransomware attacks are particularly disruptive in their ability to encrypt important information, thereby making the data and corresponding systems and processes dependent upon that information inoperable. So stricken, an SMB’s operations can come to an abrupt and extended halt. Corresponding ransom payments, potentially necessary to enable recovery, are averaging more than $1.5 million dollars per incident in 2023, according to some estimates. 

 Properly structured and managed, however, automated offsite backups can protect an SMB’s important operations and production data. Remote backups can enable recovering quickly from such events without having to pay a ransom, a step that doesn’t even guarantee the corresponding criminals will even decrypt the corrupted data to assist the SMB in recovering its operations. 

 Automated offsite backups also protect against accidental or unintentional deletion or corruption of important organization information and databases. Should a user accidentally delete an important customer’s files or an entire month’s sales, such information can typically be restored using the offsite backup. 

3. Manual backups aren’t practical

Another reason automated offsite backups are necessary is the process of making manual backups and manually rotating copies offsite is impractical. SMB owners and managers simply become too busy, distractions arise and they forget to exchange an external hard drive with another copy, meaning the data and information housed on the backup previously taken offsite quickly becomes dated, making recovery a complicated affair resulting in data loss and delays recovering operations. 

Another problem can arise, too, when dependent upon manual backups regularly transported offsite and back. Many (if not most) of the hard drives pressed into such service are not designed for the continual connection, reconnection and subsequent knocks and drops to which they are often subjected. 

 Hopefully the hard drives used to make manual backups are also never lost or stolen. Should such circumstances arise, the organization—and potentially its employees’ and customers’ information—is placed at risk. In the interim, SMBs also lose the capacity to recover production operations using an offsite backup until the drive is replaced and the device captures a complete new backup. Even then, only the most current information can be recovered, as the ability to restore data collected by a backup a few months ago is lost with the corresponding drive. 

Three Magic Words

Each of the words in “automated offsite backups” pull their weight.  By being automated, the burden on SMBs to manually track and rotate backup copies to an alternative location is eliminated. The fact the backups occur offsite means the backup data is stored safely in another location, usually within a secure cloud environment designed for just such purposes. Last, backups are just that: an important second copy of the information the SMB requires to recover operations, should a disaster occur. 

The combination can prove necessary, if not magical. Just don’t wait until a disaster occurs to prepare. Be sure to implement your SMB’s automated offsite backup before an event occurs, as once trouble strikes it’s too late. 

 Many automated offsite backup solutions are available. If you have questions or need help selecting the best option for your SMB, call a technology expert at Louisville Geek by dialing 502-897-7577 or emailing [email protected]