In today’s data-driven business world, most businesses rely heavily on their data and they cannot operate without it. Few companies today can work even a short period of time on paper and most businesses can’t survive a complete loss of data. In fact, many studies show that most businesses cannot overcome a 2-week data outage. (Hence why you need a strong, trusted IT support team.)
With data being vital to a company’s existence, let’s get back to the question at hand – how much does data recovery cost? That is a complicated question with no industry standard or definitive answer. The answer is actually based on asking yourself two key questions:
- How long can my business be without my data?
- How much does it cost me per ___ (hour, day, or week) to be without my data?
Most likely, you need to answer the latter question to determine how long your business can be without your data. I challenge you to think about it as a proactive, preventative measure because losing your data is not an option. Rephrase your question to how much money can I realistically afford to lose being without my data and what am I willing to spend to get access to my data within that time.
Being without your data means more than just lost sales. You lose productivity from your employees (40+ hours a week x number of employees), which affects billing and cash flow. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, many companies lost 6 weeks of billable time company-wide. Times have changed and companies must be up-and-running much quicker now. Especially with isolated disasters such as a fire, theft, or a server malfunction, being down for a long period of time can cause you to lose clients by setting the wrong impression that your company is not available when they need you. (You can also lose key employees that don’t get paid during the outage or do not think management as a good handle on the business.)
Keep in mind, this isn’t an all or nothing situation. You can have critical components up and running before other systems. Your company probably relies on email and a key production application or two, such as an auto dealership’s Dealer Management System or a doctor’s office’s Electronic Health Records system. (Every company’s environment varies and your internal file server may be vital to your core application.)
Let’s talk about two key terms in data recovery – RTO and RPO.
- RPO (Recovery Point Objective) – The point in time where you can recover your data. If you back up your data nightly, then your recovery point is 2 am last night.
- RTO (Recovery Time Objective) – How long it takes to recover your core application, email, and data.
Now you need to determine what is your ROI (Return on Investment) of your RTO and RPO because that will answer your question about the cost of data recovery.
Get a range in your mind, such as 15 minutes. Meaning that your IT support team will have access to your data, email, and core application within 15 minutes and all you will lose during an outage is 15 minutes of data (employees’ work, accounting, invoices, communications, etc.). That quick of a Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and frequent Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is expensive, but vital for some large companies when you juxtapose that with losing thousands of customer transactions or the compounded billable time from thousands of employees.
For smaller companies, you may decide you can live being with your data or “closed” for 1 day. Some of our clients can be down 1 week without a major impact to their bottom line, while others must be operational again in 1 hour. When considering your ROI for data recovery, you don’t want to spend a nickel to save a nickel; you want spend a nickel to protect a quarter or more.
Think of your RTO, RPO, and ROI with this scenario: a fire breaks out in your server closet at 2pm on Thursday. Can you afford to not have your data until Monday morning? Are you okay losing your data from 8am-2pm that day? What systems or applications do you need access to first? Remember this is not an all or nothing situation and you can potentially get your email, accounting, and production servers up before other systems. You should have these discussions with your IT support team. They can help you find the balance between protecting your data and your budget.
Take this into consideration when determining if your current business continuity plans will work:
- Do I have the right back up hardware and software to meet both my RTO & RPO times?
- Is my software updated?
- Do my backups actually work?
- Will my onsite backup hard drive, known as a NAS (Network Attached Storage), help me meet my RTO & RPO times or hurt me?
- Will my cloud/offsite server help me meet my RTO & RPO times or hurt me?
A key to data protection and prompt recovery is diversity. You want to diversify how you store your data, both locally and in the cloud.
For example, if you store everything in the cloud, it could take you days to download it when a server fails or two to three days to ship a new hard drive to you. Cloud is a great solution because it is geographically diverse from your local environment and most likely immune to local disasters, but getting your data back can be challenging and time-consuming. If all your data is in the cloud, you will not reach a 4-hour RTO because you won’t be able to download it in time.
Also, if your company is a first or second responder, such as an ambulance service or a construction company that clears roadways after a storm, your data can not solely be in the cloud because the internet may be inaccessible and it cannot solely be at your office because that could be damaged by a natural disaster. Think in repetition and diversify your data to be stored locally on a server and on a hosted server such as a cloud. We also suggest locally as a read-only drive to prevent malware like ransomware from locking up all of your data.
When determining your data protection and data recovery plans, also consider different scenarios where you’ll lose your data. Since we’re based in New Orleans, most executives prepare for hurricanes and floods, and ignore machine failure and human error. We’ve even seen leaks in roofs run across the ceiling and drop right on top of a server. You can’t predict or evacuate from that, you can only deal with it.
To determine how much data recovery costs, you need to determine how much data you can afford to lose and how much you’re willing to spend to protect against that lose? If you give your IT team a week to recover, you can use a cheaper solution because you can replace a server in that timeframe, but if you have a 1-day RTO, you need a server on standby. Also, don’t just look at the hardware because your software impacts you just as much. You need your software to be a current, supported version because companies will not support software out of warranty.
A good IT firm will ask you the right questions to help you make a good business decision to determine your ROI, RTO, RPO – you don’t need to be technical to determine these numbers. You probably need a technical expertise to implement the plan.
Things happen, but we can be prepared to mitigate the damage and get you back up-and-running promptly.