Data is invaluable to any modern-day business and losing it can mean the death of a company. According to Clutch, 58 percent of small businesses are not prepared for data loss. Because of this, the majority of small businesses that lose their data are forced to shut down within six months of an event. Don't let this scare you just yet! If you act quickly and take the correct next steps, your business can recover and you can prevent this problem from occurring again.
1. Call in Professionals
When you first notice missing data, don’t try to recover it yourself. It’s very possible your data is still accessible somehow, but messing around in your storage system can lead to permanent loss. Specialists like Secure Data Recovery know their way around hardware and software, which makes them the best bet for safely recovering data without causing additional damage. They can also help you keep your important business operations online while you work to recover from the loss. Until the pros can conduct an analysis of your problem, it’s best to shut down your computer completely.
2. Determine the Cause of Data Loss
Most often, people have no idea why their data is missing. Try to find out what went wrong so you can help your data recovery specialists get your data back and prevent the problem from happening again. Data is most often lost due to human error, technical failure, or targeted attacks. For example, it’s easy to accidentally delete the wrong files or overwrite existing files when updating your business records. On the other hand, your data loss may be the result of a virus or malware. In this case, it's very possible that attackers are stealing data rather than simply deleting it. Look out for the signs of a data breach if you suspect this may be occurring.
3. Write a Letter to your Customers
Most states have laws in place requiring businesses to notify their customers if their data is stolen. Although this can hurt your company’s reputation, it’s much better than facing class action lawsuits. You may be required to send your customers a written notice detailing everything you know about the data breach. Two of the most important things to include in your notice is what your business is doing to fix the situation and what specific actions your customers can take to protect themselves.
4. Be Prepared Next Time
Just because you already lost your data once doesn’t mean it won’t happen again. Preventing data loss is an important part of business planning and should be one of the first things you do as your business recovers from this setback. Set up a solid recovery plan and a system for conducting regular backups. Mashable recommends backing up your files to more than one computer and storing at least one copy off-site. Ideally, you should backup your important files every day and a minimum of once per week.
An IT disaster recovery plan should also be developed so you know exactly what to do the next time you’re faced with a major system problem. This should include a way to quickly switch your operations to run on backup data so you can reduce downtime.
Finally, be on the lookout for signs of a failing hard drive:
● Frequent error messages
● Slower computer performance
● Scrambled file names
● Frequent program crashes
● Files and folders that disappear
● Grinding or clicking sounds in your computer
If you notice any of these problems, back up your data immediately and have a professional take a look at your system. Your computer's hard drive is the device that stores and retrieves digital information. When it goes, your data goes with it.
Although being faced with significant data loss will likely cause immediate panic to any business owner, there’s a very good chance you can get it back. The greatest cost to your business will be the downtime you're forced to endure as you get everything back up and running again. This is why you should turn to professionals who know how to fix the problem as quickly as possible.
About the Author:
Amy Collett is creator of Bizwell.org, a website that helps professionals and entrepreneurs build and strengthen their personal brand. She is author of the upcoming book, You, Exemplified: The Role of Personal Branding in Your Professional Life. When she isn’t helping clients boost their careers or businesses, she enjoys coaching her daughter’s soccer team and training to become a yoga instructor.