Lax Data Backups Endanger 60 Percent of Small Businesses

New survey results from Sage North America, a small and midsize business (SMB) accounting software and cloud services provider, show that while backups enjoy near-universal adoption, few small businesses are leveraging them properly to survive a disaster.

Sage polled 504 small businesses in the United States, and while most of them recognize the value of keeping multiple copies of their data, the company got mixed signals when it came to disaster preparedness.

In an encouraging sign that data backup is a top priority for small businesses, 94 percent of those surveyed for Sage’s study reported that they back up their financial data. Sadly, for a good number of those businesses, it’s a wasted effort if Mother Nature (or human nature) turns against them.

According to Sage, about 60 percent of small businesses subscribe to an “on-site only” strategy for their backups. It’s a tactic that can quickly become ineffectual if a large-scale disaster strikes, warns Connie Certusi, executive vice president and general manager for Sage small business accounting solutions.

“Backing up on-site may not be sufficient to protect small businesses from natural disasters — particularly if the business is located in an area prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, fires or flooding — or more common crises, such as theft or hardware malfunction,” said Certusi in a company statement.

That outlook is not unique, at least among organizations like Certusi’s that have embraced the off-site data protection benefits offered by cloud computing.

A recent Symantec-sponsored survey conducted by ReRez Research found that disaster recovery heavily influenced the cloud strategies of a good number of IT professionals. Thirty-four percent of the IT executives polled said that the ability to recover quickly from a disaster had a “moderate to large” influence on their adoption of public cloud services and server virtualization.

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SMBs Press Their Luck

Sage discovered that 61 percent of small businesses have no formal emergency or disaster preparedness plan in place. Why the lapse? Thirty-three percent essentially said they’ve been lucky; they had never suffered a problem that pushed them to develop and institute one.

Another 30 percent said creating a disaster preparedness plan hadn’t crossed their minds. A substantial number of small businesses, 27 percent, were surprisingly candid in their view that it’s not an important factor for their business.

Fortunately, of the 38 percent of respondents that claimed to have disaster preparedness procedures in place, 88 percent said that data backup was part of the plan. And nearly half of the small businesses surveyed are taking a rigorous approach to backups. Forty-eight percent said they backup their financial data daily, while 17 percent perform backups a few times a week.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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