Organizing your receipts, flossing your teeth and backing up your data – three of the top should-do tasks that rarely get done on a regular basis. Setting tax woes and personal hygiene aside for now, let's look at results of the 2007 AT&T Business Continuity Study, which found that a significant number of small business owners have their heads deep in the sand.
The study revealed that 36 percent of smaller businesses (fewer than 100 employees) reported that business continuity planning is either not a priority or not important. That's compared with 27 percent of large companies.
These same companies, it turns out, are also less likely to have a business continuity plan in place compared to larger businesses – 34 percent of smaller firms don't have a plan versus 21 percent of bigger companies.
In the final major finding, 22 percent of smaller businesses indicated that they did not include Internet security as part of their overall business continuity plan (compared with 14 percent of large companies).
"It's surprising how few small businesses are really worried about data loss," Raymond Boggs, vice president of small/medium business research at IDC said in a statement. "Especially when a devastating loss can come from something as common as a power outage or computer virus." When a small company loses crucial data, it loses time and revenue. Worse, it can drive them out of business permanently.
Backing up data is a crucial part of any business continuity and disaster recovery plan. But, according to John Regan, vice president of small business marketing for AT&T, small companies have faced several roadblocks.
“Many home-based businesses and other small businesses understand the importance of backing up files and data; yet, with the hassle and time involved in manual methods, they don’t back up their data as often as they should,” Regan said in a statement.
Of course, AT&T believes its Remote Vault online data storage service can help small businesses overcome those roadblocks. The service lets you backup your data over a broadband Internet connection and store it off-site at a secure AT&T data center. John Savas, an AT&T director and product manager, said that this is the same service the company has offered its enterprise customers since 2004.
"We now offer the same service to small business customers at an affordable price. It's not watered down; it's the same functionality," he said. "You set it and forget it," said Savas. "Remote Vault runs in the background without slowing your computer's performance."
The service provides 128-bit AES encryption for data in transit and then it's stored in an AT&T-owned data center. "It's like millions of jumbled puzzle pieces stored across a hard-dive array for further protection, and it meets corporate security standards," said Savas.
Remote Vault costs $10 per month per PC for 5GB of storage. Each additional GB costs $2 per GB per PC. In the past, you needed to be an AT&T customer to buy Remote Vault, but the service is available for purchase online to anyone with a credit card.
While there are a number of online data backup solutions available to small businesses, Savas said that before you buy, think about how easy the service is to use and whether it requires you to be tech savvy.
"You also want to work with a company that's going to be around for a long time, that's a known entity," he said. "Will the company protect your data in a secure location? Can you get it back? You don't know that's the case with some of these startups."
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com
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