As a computer systems network manager and member of the nonprofit High Tech Crime Consortium, Kevin McDonald has seen all manner of data disasters: the medical company whose patient treatment records were lost in a warehouse fire; the police department whose website host vanished overnight; even the careless employee whose leaky liter of Coke ruined a computer server. “If you are a small business and you have a catastrophic loss of data, more likely than not you will never recover,” says McDonald, executive vice president at Alvaka Networks in Irvine, Calif. “Data storage is so cheap now, if you can’t afford it you should shut your business down and do something else.”
Yet many small businesses do not adequately plan to cope with data loss. Online backup provider Carbonite, based in Boston, surveyed 1,005 employees at companies with one to 30 Internet-enabled computers in July 2011. That survey and additional research by the company reveal gaps in backup plans: Although 70 percent reported that they do some data backup, 48 percent said they had lost or deleted data accidentally, and only 13 percent felt vulnerable to a data disaster.