Most people know data backup is important, but they remain unaware of all the real risks of losing data. Data backup winds up becoming the sort of thing you know is "good for you", but real attention gets put off as the threats seem vague. The most common ways of losing data are connected to our every day lives, and it's worth a review.
1. Viruses and Malware. If you're on the Internet you're at risk of getting viruses and malware. Even with up to date antivirus protection, a business class firewall, and other safeguards, there is no such thing as 100% security. The worst viruses today are versions of "ransomeware" that encrypt your data and effectively hold it hostage. You'll be asked to pay a large sum of money to get the data back, but you're playing with fire by paying off criminals, and you're not guaranteed to get your data. If you don't have a backup, you'll lose everything.
2. Deleting files accidentally. Human error can't be eliminated. You may delete an entire file, part of a file, or over-write a file. When you're composing a new proposal do you often use a existing document as a starting point? No matter how organized your workflow is, you simply can't rule out making a mistake like this.
3. Hard Drive Failure. If you stop to think about how hard drives work, its a miracle that ANY hard drives actually work. All your data sits on thin disks spinning at 7,500 to 15,000 RPM with extremely tight engineering tolerances. Have you ever dropped your laptop or spilled coffee on it? Solid state drives offer some advantages, but always remember your data is is just stored in electronic bits and if its corrupted in any way, you can lose it all. If other components in your computer fail such as a power supply or a mother board, your system won't work, but your data will be ok. When your hard drive fails, you're out of luck without a backup. There are labs that can recover data, but these services run in the $1000s of dollars, and there's no guarantee your data will be restored.
4. Employee Misconduct. We covered the possibility of accidental deletion of data, but there is also the risk of intentional misconduct. If you have a disgruntled employee could they destroy your data? If they steal or destroy things like parts or supplies you can get them back, but you CAN'T get your data back without a backup.
5. Loss or Theft of Computers. If your computer is lost or stolen, the cost of the equipment is small compared to the value of your irreplaceable data. Insurance may help recover the cost of the hardware, but it can't get your data back. Computers retain a high value on the stolen market, so beware of the risks.
6. Building Disaster. Fortunately, these kind of disasters are rare, but they can happen. You could have a fire or a flood. What happens if the fire sprinklers go off in your office? Many people make the mistake of keeping a backup in the same place as their equipment. You MUST get your backup off site!
7. Natural Disaster. An earthquake, hurricane, or tornado could wipe out your entire building and town. In this case you may need to quickly set up a new office or run an office virtually in the cloud. A backup stored anywhere near the original data would be at risk.
Unfortunately, for many people, it takes a data loss or scare to get serious about backup. Don't wait until it's too late. Take some time at your next staff meeting to review your critical data and backup protection.