Jamie Brenzel, CEO, KineticD, says:

For those of us who are email hoarders, the mere idea of losing those important messages stashed away in our inbox is more than we can comprehend. It’s not unlike losing your wallet and sadly, it happens more than you’d expect. All it takes is a bad storm, a clever hacker or one fateful slip of the mouse for the world of email to come crashing down around us.

Business owners are often too focused on the task at hand and forget to back up important data until it is too late. Many have chosen tape backup to protect their data; however, it has been reported that 34 percent of companies fail to test their tape backups and of those that do, 77 percent have found tape backup failure. Ask yourself this question, “could my company survive if my business emails go missing?” If the answer is no, then it is time to rethink your backup procedures.

The Threat Vector is Greater Than You Think

The list of threats that can bring about the loss of an email, or an entire email account for that matter, is quite long. The reality is that company data is nothing more than zeros and ones. Even a simple user error can result in the disappearance of important email correspondence that could make or break your business. We can all relate to that dreaded moment of hitting the delete button, only to realize what you thought was spam was in fact a critical client email. Additionally, email accounts are frequent targets of hackers and while identity theft is usually the motivating factor for these types of cyber attacks, they may also result in the deletion of stored information. All of the common elements that potentially threaten the life of our electronic devices themselves, from natural disaster to computer viruses, pose a great danger to the safety of our email.

Do You Know Where YOUR Email Lives?

No one can deny the level of efficiency email has brought to our day-to-day communications. Of all the important data that makes up our digital lifestyles, the information contained in our email accounts often ends up being some of the most vital to protect and maintain. Most of us can remember time spent searching our email history to find that one bit of information we so desperately need for an upcoming proposal or project. In fact, most businesses conduct the vast majority of their communications almost exclusively through email. For these reasons and more, securing your email should be a priority.

Assess your email situation. Ask yourself the following questions and then develop a backup strategy that works for your business:

1.      Where does your company email reside? Are you using an application such as Outlook, Eudora or Entourage? If so, how are you backing up this data?

2.      If you are using an external device to backup your data, have you created additional copies in the event that one becomes corrupt or worse, lost or stolen?

3.      Are you using a cloud email provider, such as Gmail? Do you know how to restore your email should the host provider suffer an outage or your account is hacked?

4.      How often are you backing up your email? Have you created a sensible data backup and recovery plan?

5.      Does your backup procedure include a restore procedure? Are you able to restore both the mail client and the email associated with it?

By answering these questions, you can assess your current backup and recovery options and develop a viable strategy to protect the thousands of emails you have been collecting.

Understanding Your Options – What is Best For Your Business

How does one go about protecting email accounts from potential threats? Fortunately, there are several ways to protect critical data. In the past, many companies chose the tried and true method of downloading email files to the corporate server, or local hard drive. Others have chosen to burn this important data to CDs or DVDs on a regular basis, while many small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) still rely on the now antiquated tape backup method to protect their data.

While these methods are better than no backup at all, the reality is that the responsibility of implementing the backup very often falls under the purview of those who are already overworked. Who is the keeper of your backup procedures? Is it administrative personnel who may not understand the importance of ongoing backup or is it the owner of the company who is already juggling a myriad of tasks to keep the business running? The reality is, choosing to backup email files to an external hard drive or flash drive is problematic. For one, they tend to be forgotten, misplaced and/or stolen and they are highly susceptible to viruses and hardware malfunction.

When it comes down to it, harnessing the services of an online data backup or cloud computing service provider is by far the most time and cost-effective way to guarantee your company will never lose important email. In fact, from large enterprises to SMBs to home users, online data backup is the most comprehensive solution available to protect all forms of essential digital information.

Even more important is to work with a cloud data backup and recovery provider, or an outside IT service company, that will develop a secure backup procedure that fits your business needs.

Consider a Secure Cloud Data Backup Partner

Let’s say you’ve decided to utilize an expert to backup your email and other critical data. There are many service providers, value added resellers and technology partners that have integrated data backup and recovery services into their offerings.

Talk to a variety of companies and peers before you commit your data to the Cloud. Here are some key questions for you to ask when doing your research:

1.      Does the Cloud provider offer onsite and offsite protection? In other words, do they provide the means to quickly and efficiently backup your data to a secure offsite server, while maintaining a local copy for easy restoration of large application and data files, such as Word or Outlook?

2.      What does the backup software look like? How easy is it to use, what data does it protect and more importantly, how much user input is needed to accomplish your daily, weekly and monthly backups?

3.      How long has the cloud provider or IT service company been in business? Look for companies that have been in the business for longer than a couple of years. Too often cloud providers come and go. Ask for references and/or case studies for your review.

4.      Where is your data stored?Is it stored in a secure datacenter or is it sitting on a server in some technician’s garage?

5.      How secure is the datacenter that will store your data? Ask for certifications that ensure that it has been audited by a third party, such as SSAE16. If you are a health provider, does the datacenter offer HIPAA compliancy?

6.      How easy is it to backup and restore your email files? Ask for a demonstration or the ability to download and test the software. Many backup software programs do not seamlessly backup Outlook or Quickbook data files.

7.      How much data capacity do you really need? Don’t buy a motor home if you only need a golf cart. Look for companies that will allow you to grow, but won’t overcharge you for space you don’t need.

Ideally, whatever backup solution you choose, remove the responsibility from the over-burdened staff and choose an option that allows you to set up a schedule for automatic backup. Some technologies today offer a “set it and forget it” feature that guarantees that all data will be backed up and protected, eliminating the possibility of user error. Finally, test your backup solution by restoring your data.

In the End…

With so many companies now reliant on email, even a temporary loss of access to this vital information could spell disaster for SMBs and enterprises alike. The right data backup and recovery cloud solution should provide your company with easy-to-use tools for disaster readiness and recovery of critical data. A little planning will allow you to focus on the business at hand, with the knowledge that your data is safe and secure, every day.

About the Author

Jamie brings over 15 years of experience in investment banking and entrepreneurial startups to his role as CEO of KineticD. Jamie holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Philosophy from the University of Western Ontario.