We do the research

Prepare for Disaster

Given the real possibilities of

a small business or homeowner should be prepared, just in case.

The leading causes for business downtime are

4 out of 5 businesses never recover from a catastrophe.

Risk Assessment

Determine how vulnerable your business is to disasters.

Some of this is geography related. Are you in a flood plain? Earthquake zone? Tornado region?

Some risk is related to your surroundings. Is the building up to code? Does it sit next to a fireworks factory?

Risk Reduction

Determine what you can do to reduce the risks of a disaster.

Disaster Recovery

Plan on what to do if disaster does strike.

If you have a business, a disaster can wipe out your computers and data. For some businesses, that means days of downtime and disruption. For other businesses, it's the end.

That's why you should take this month to figure out what disasters might hit your business and how you're going to prepare. To get you started, we're going to look at four common dangers and some solutions.
1. Viruses

While a lot of modern viruses stay hidden so they can steal your information, there are still viruses that could disrupt your business. For example, a ransomware virus could encrypt your files and lock your computer unless you pay a ransom. Unless you pay, your only option is to wipe the computer and start over.

Combating this threat means being proactive. Put security software on every business computer, and make sure your employees are using standard Windows accounts (or standard Mac accounts) so they can't accidentally install malicious programs.

You also need to train employees not to click on dangerous links or download malicious attachments from phishing emails. That's an easy way for a hacker to break into a company, and it's easy to do if your employees are on LinkedIn.

You should also try as much as possible to keep mission critical systems locked down and separate from non-critical systems. For example, set aside a computer just for finances and use it for nothing else. You should also make sure you have your data backed up so it isn't lost to a ransomware virus, or wiped trying to get rid of another kind of virus.

2. Human error

You and your employees are going to make mistakes, and sometimes that affects your data. For example, you might accidentally delete a mission critical file, or make bad changes and save it without thinking. Perhaps you spill coffee on your laptop and fry it.

That's why it's a good idea to be making daily backups of your important files, or get a system that does it automatically whenever files are changed. That way, you can restore the deleted file, pull an unchanged version or download it to another computer and get back to work.

3. Natural Disasters

No matter where you are in the country, you're going to be dealing with natural disasters at some point. Whether it's a fire, flood, earthquake, hurricane, tornado, blizzard or something else, you need to be prepared. Even if you live in relatively disaster-free Phoenix, what happens if your office's air conditioning goes out in 115 degree weather?

Make sure you have a disaster plan mapped out that first gets your employees to safety. Once that's accomplished, you can start salvaging your business.

If you need to be up and running quickly, have a secondary site set up that can take over the most critical operations, whether that's another office or your home. Make sure your employees know what to do and drill a few times a year to work out any bugs.
You should also make sure your an updated copy of your data is somewhere else besides your office. That way if the office is a total loss, your data won't be.

For a more detailed plan, check out this free continuity checklist (PDF) from our sponsor Carbonite.

4. Hardware failure

That monthlong project is due to a client by the end of the day, so naturally that's when your computer hard drive decides to fail. If you don't have an up-to-date version on another computer, or somewhere else, then you've just lost your client's business.

Hard drives and other computer parts fail regularly; you can't trust they'll keep working forever. You can make them last longer with regular cleaning to remove dust buildup, and by keeping them in a cooler environment. However, you still never know when something might fail.

That's why having up-to-date copies of your files in another location is essential. That way, you can pick up where you left off after a hardware failure.

The best decision to protect your business

You might have noticed that backing up your data is an important part of your business surviving any of the above business disasters. And an in-house backup isn't always going to cut it. It might be destroyed in a disaster, or you might forget to update for weeks or months and lose your most recent files.

You want a service that automatically backs up the latest versions of your important business files to secure servers that are out of harm's way. It should also be able to pull older versions of a file, be accessible from any computer you need to use and have a way to restore your files quickly.

Our sponsor Carbonite does all that and more. Its business plans can back up every computer in your company, including Windows Server setups and external hard drives. Your files are double encrypted so hackers can't break into them; even Carbonite employees can't read them.

Carbonite has a complimentary Valet Install with a certified tech so you know everything is set up correctly and you don't have to worry. You can access your files anywhere, at any time through Carbonite's site or the Carbonite mobile app.

Restoring to any computer is a snap, and if you're in a rush, and have a lot of data or slow Internet, Carbonite has Courier Recovery that ships you a hard drive with your information.