By Parker Hansen

There are few assets more important to SMBs than the electronic files that store their crucial information. Everything from contracts, business plans, customer records, payroll and accounting information, and countless other mission-critical pieces of data are often stored on hard drives and data disks that are at risk of breaking down. As an increasing amount of business is conducted and recorded digitally, data backup has grown into a critical component of any properly run SMB.

Recently, The Wall Street Journal published an article that reported disturbingly inadequate data backup and data security trends among SMBs. It indicated that only about 54 percent of SMBs backup more than half of their files. Of those that do, only 32 percent had backed up data that day, about 53 percent had backed up data in the preceding week, and 15 percent had backed up data within the past month. Not only is the total percentage of businesses backing up data too low, but only 32 percent back up data often enough to effectively protect against data loss.

One positive trend is an increasing utilization of cloud-based data backup options. Encrypted cloud data backup is one of the most secure ways to store data, as the data is stored remotely, typically on geographically distant and redundant systems. According to The Wall Street Journal article, approximately 37 percent of SMBs currently use cloud-based backup, while around 70 percent are still using NAS and server backups.

Somewhat disturbingly, around one-third of SMBs are still “backing up” their data on local computers, which defeats most of the purpose of backing up data in the first place.

Why Data Backup Is so Important

It is important to understand data backup trends and utilize the latest in data backup and data recovery techniques; the problem is far more common than most expect.

There are in fact several common ways in which data can be lost, which include: malicious files and/or viruses, accidentally wiped hard drives, and hardware malfunctions or failures. It is estimated that about 62 percent of SMBs have experienced significant data loss at least once, while around 33 percent of SMBs have lost significant revenue as a direct result of data loss that could have been prevented with a robust data backup contingency plan.

It is far easier to deal with potential data loss before it causes a problem instead of after a loss of data. Far from a fluke occurrence, data loss is a very real threat that must be addressed by any serious business.

Consequences of not Backing Up Data

In addition to being a surprisingly common occurrence, the consequences of losing critical company data can be legitimately catastrophic for a SMB. It is estimated that the average loss in revenue for companies that experience significant data loss is around $468,610. In a survey of IT professionals that primarily provide IT services to SMBs, they estimated that around 40 percent of the companies they service would go out of business if they permanently lost their data.

With such severe potential consequences for data loss, and such simple methods for properly backing up data to the cloud or with other methods, it is absolutely imperative that every SMB that wishes to be in business long-term properly backs up their data. The piece of mind, financial protection, and protection from massive loss of critical company documents makes the decision a no-brainer.

Parker Hansen is a computer security expert and writer for In his free time he enjoys blogging and web design. @TopTenREVIEWS