As a digitally active business in 2016, you can’t afford to lose your data. Whether at the hands of a natural disaster, human error, or cyber attack, data loss is costly and extremely risky. That’s why you need a backup and disaster recovery solution.

What is BDR?

As a small business owner, you’ve probably asked yourself this simple question at least once: “What is BDR?” Well, the most basic definition is a combination of data backup and disaster recovery solutions that are designed to work together to ensure uptime, diminish data loss, and maximize productivity in the midst of an attack, natural disaster, or other compromising situation. In other words, BDR solutions keep businesses safe when trouble strikes.

Related: 5 Steps for Managing Disaster Recovery for Your Business

According to research by Security Week, the total volume of data loss at the enterprise level has increased more than 400 percent over the past couple of years and the trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. With the rise of big data, cloud computing, and BYOD policies in the workplace, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for businesses to protect their private data.

IT Web suggests that the total cost of data breaches will be more than $2.1 trillion by 2019. This is in part due to the fact that small businesses don’t always take security seriously. They wrongly assume that it’s the big corporations that face the highest risks. Unfortunately, this is a false assumption.

A Verizon report says that small data breaches -- those with fewer than 100 files lost -- cost between $18,120 and $35,730. Unless these are expenses that you can easily sustain, it’s time to implement a BDR plan.

Related: Don't Wait for a Disaster to Interrupt Business. Prepare Now

Five reasons why SBOs need a BDR plan.

When small businesses don’t have a BDR solution/plan in place, it’s typically because they’re unclear about the true value of BDR.

Let’s review some of the top benefits to give you an idea of why these solutions are so important to the health of your small business.

  1. Protects against effects of natural disasters. Whether it’s a flood, earthquake, hurricane, blizzard, or other extreme natural disaster, there are plenty of uncontrollable circumstances that can cause your business to experience downtime. And, according to the National Archives and Records Administration, more than 90 percent of companies that experience at least seven days of data center downtime go out of business within a year. Let that sink in. While a BDR plan won’t prevent a natural disaster from occurring, it will protect your data and ensure that downtime doesn’t compromise your company.
  2. Lessens impact of cyber attacks. As more and more data is moved online, cyber criminals are increasing their efforts and focusing on businesses that they believe are unprotected. In most cases, this means small businesses that appear vulnerable. Once again, a BDR plan can limit the impact of an attack and can prevent your business from losing valuable data.
  3. Keeps client data safe. Do you store a lot of confidential client or customer data? If so, you can’t afford to lose this data or let it slip into the wrong hands. A BDR plan ensures that all of this information is properly stored and controlled. As a result, you don’t have to worry about damaging your brand reputation, should an unforeseeable incident arise.
  4. People make mistakes. While natural disasters and cyber attacks are discussed more than anything else, the reality is that your own employees are sometimes responsible for the biggest data losses. Mistakes happen and a single poor choice can end up compromising data. That’s why it’s so important for businesses not only to train employees properly, but also invest in backup solutions.
  5. Systems fail. Finally, we all know that hardware, machines, and other systems fail. Regardless of how much you spend on your technology, no solution is perfect. Even systems that come with 99.9 percent uptime guarantees will falter every once in a while. As such, businesses must invest in robust BDR plans that account for all of these risks.

What to look for in a BDR solution.

Once you determine that your business needs a BDR plan in place, how do you find the right solution? While every business is different, start by analyzing the following:

  • Hardware compatibility. Depending on the hardware that your business uses, you may need a BDR solution that’s specifically tailored to your current setup. Keep this in mind as you compare options.
  • Scalable pricing. As your business grows over time, you’re going to collect and store more data. A flexible pricing model will allow you cost-effectively to scale according to your demands.
  • Around-the-clock support. You never know when disaster will strike. Make sure that your BDR vendor has 24/7/365 technical support available.
  • Strong reputation. Finally, it’s important to consider the BDR solution’s reputation. How long has it been on the market? What do customers say? The answers to these questions will tell you a lot.

If you can find a BDR solution that meets these four criteria, then you’ve probably found the right solution for your business.

Related: The 4 Basics for Preventing Tech Calamities No Business Can Afford

Protect your business.

Nobody wants to assume that something bad is going to happen to their business – and hopefully you’ll never be exposed to any of the risks highlighted in this article – but the harsh reality is that you’ll likely face one of these issues at some point in the future.

There’s no way to prevent a cyber attack, natural disaster, technical malfunction or uncontrollable human error, but you can protect your business from costly data loss by investing in a solution that aids in data backup and disaster recovery. Frankly, it’s unwise to wait any longer.