Small Business Data Backup Woes Persist: Survey

Data loss continues to pose a serious problem for a sizeable number of small and midsized businesses (SMBs) according to a new study from Spiceworks, an online community of small business IT professionals.

The survey of 1,012 IT decision makers, commissioned by cloud backup services provider Carbonite, unearthed some startling statistics on the state of data protection among small enterprises. Forty-five percent of respondents admitted that their organizations had suffered some form of data loss.

Among the respondents who reported data loss, 54 percent said that a hardware failure was to blame. And recovering data to get their businesses back on track is turning out to be a pricey proposition for shop owners.

The Price of Data Recovery

Data recovery fees averaged a whopping $9,000. All told, small businesses spend an average of $5,700 each year on backup and recovery management, and even so, it falls short for a good number of organizations. Thirty percent described their data backup and recovery environments as insufficient.

As small businesses grapple with these costs — and for some, dissatisfaction in backup products — fortunes await vendors that can provide budget-friendly data protection solutions, according to Deni Connor, founding analyst of Storage Strategies NOW.

“The opportunity to provide small and mid-sized businesses with better and more cost-effective ways to protect and recover data is huge. While these companies may have smaller IT staffs, they collectively account for a significant portion of the total backup and recovery market,” said Connor in press remarks.

Direct-attached storage (DAS) is the most popular backup target for SMBs. Sixty percent said that they use DAS to keep copies of their data. Despite this preference for in-house storage hardware, there are signs that the cloud is emerging as a popular alternative.

According to the study, 30 percent of SMBs use cloud-based or hosted backup and recovery services. Over the next year, an additional 14 percent will join them.

Not surprisingly, Carbonite’s director of product management, Piyum Samaraweera, says it’s a wise move. Cloud backup services address many of the storage management headaches that currently stymie SMBs.

“While small and mid-sized businesses recognize the importance of having a data protection and recovery plan, many are using on-premises hardware that leaves them vulnerable to data loss from device failure, performing manual backups infrequently or on-premises problems that affect both the original copy and backups, such as power surges, natural disasters or theft,” said Samaraweera in a company statement.

Most SMBs are reluctant to cede complete control of their data backups to public cloud services providers. Seventy-seven percent of those mulling private, hybrid or public cloud backup solutions said that they prefer the private or hybrid route. A minority (23 percent) felt comfortable parking their backups on a public cloud.

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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