For small businesses, an IT network failure can be devastating. Network failures are particularly challenging for any size organization, but for small businesses, it can be difficult (in bad cases, impossible) to recover because they don’t have the resources of large corporations to bounce back from such disasters. Therefore, preparation is the best defense. Companies must recognize the eventuality of a cyberattack or human error. And these are the most likely causes of data loss and disruption to business continuity.
TO AVOID A NETWORK FAILURE, YOU NEED TO…
Channel your inner boy scout. Being proactive is perhaps the most essential aspect of preparation. After all, the companies that don’t fully recover are most usually those that procrastinated assessment and planning.
There are two steps to determine how to best prepare to prevent potential failure of your infrastructure.
- Identify the weaknesses throughout your systems
- Determine how you are going to eliminate those weaknesses and protect your network
Identify the weaknesses
Discover how and why your system could fail. Examine all aspects of your hardware and software. Assess all the internal and external factors that could contribute to failure of your networks. To help you get started, here are some questions you need to know the answers to.
- Does customer access and/or employee productivity often stall because a system is down? In these situations, how quickly is your IT support able to minimize the damage and get that system back online?
- Can you say with certainty that your business will be back online and be able to access lost data with minimal disruption in case of failure?
- Your critical data should be backed up frequently. The data on personal laptops, iPads and other mobile devices should also be backed up. Are all these steps being taken, and how often?
- Are all backups stored in a location off-site and are they quickly accessible in the event of corruption, fire, or flood?
- Are you using any custom-made software? Can it be reinstalled and updated when needed?
- Are your systems truly protected from hackers and viruses? Do you change passwords when employees leave the company?
- How often do you test your backup processes?
The answers to these questions should give you a clear picture of your network’s ability to survive in case of a catastrophe.
FIVE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO PROTECT YOUR NETWORKS
- Backup files every day: There are many businesses that never backup data. In fact, it’s reported that 96% of businesses do not back up their workstations. Several issues can result in loss of data. You should backup data every day.
- Check backup procedures regularly: Don’t find out accidentally that your backup system is not working properly. By then it could be too late. It may seem like your data is being backed up normally but check frequently if it is backing up the way it should be. In this age of “bring your own device” BYOD to work, make sure all employees are also following procedures to backup data on their laptops, iPads, Android phones, etc.
- Make sure virus protection and firewalls are always enabled: Many companies either don’t have virus protection installed or it’s disabled. That renders their networks vulnerable to virus attacks from emails, spam, and data downloads. Corrupted files will not only bring your systems down, but they can spread to your customers and email contacts. That will spell disaster for your reputation. Hackers are always looking for unprotected and open ports online that they can attack with malicious code or files. That can cause permanent data loss.
- Monitor server drives: Dangerously full server drives can cause many problems, ranging from program crashes to sluggish email delivery. Servers should be monitored and maintained regularly to avoid these problems.
- Check built-in logs: Frequent reviews of built-in logs can reveal small issues. You will have a chance to prevent them from becoming bigger, harder-to- manage problems that can bring your systems down.
MAKE SURE IT’S ALL BAKED INTO YOUR OPERATIONS
With so many competing priorities for small businesses, this can sound like a scary amount of work to take on. For many companies, it actually is. Which his why so many of them are turning to cloud-based services and virtualized backup solutions to mitigate downtimes and network failures. Virtualization and cloud computing have enabled cost-efficient business continuity by allowing entire servers to be grouped into one software bundle or virtual server—that includes all data, operating systems, applications, and patches. This simplifies the backup process and allows for quick data restoration when needed.
If you need any help assessing your network, designing a plan, and not only implementing it but making sure it’s successful 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, just contact us. We handle every aspect of network design, setup, monitoring, and maintenance for hundreds of companies every day.