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City of Benson Learns the Cost of Data Failure Is Vastly Higher Than the Price of Backup

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In the City of Benson, Arizona, things are finally getting back to normal after a server crash caused the loss of an unknown number of emails. The cost to have a specialist retrieve this missing data was estimated at $40,000, and in the end, the City decided it wasn’t worth the price tag. Had a backup system been already in place, something that is much cheaper and easier than most realize, the data failure wouldn’t have been a problem.

Every IT Professional’s Worst Nightmare

When IT specialist Jared Riker of RikerTek signed on to work with the City of Benson, he knew there were risks. The City’s servers were more than 10 years old, unreliable, and in desperate need of updating. But the City did not have the budget for new servers and Riker did the best he could with what he had to work with. “The backup system was something we were working on when the crash occurred. A failure like that is every IT professional’s worst nightmare,” Riker told the Benson News-Sun.

After the crash, Riker recovered emails sent from systems within the city hall, but could not save data from off-site email accounts. “I finally went to a third party to try and retrieve the information and was given a $40,000 estimate to attempt to retrieve the lost emails. Under the direction of (then) city manager Jim Cox, I was told not to do it because of the cost,” said Riker.

Tempers Flare After Data Loss

Things went from bad to worse when City officials began blaming Riker for the failure. Fortunately for Riker, he was vindicated when an independent IT company, Prologic Technology Group, investigated the City’s claims. Prologic found no reason to blame Riker for the failure. The report came to one very clear conclusion: “The loss of data could have been prevented if a proper working backup set was in place and an appropriate disaster recovery plan was in place and routinely tested.”

And the problem of inadequate or nonexistent data backups and disaster recovery (DR) plans is not limited to municipalities. Businesses of all sizes are also guilty of failing to respond to the danger of data failure.

The Disastrous State of Disaster Preparedness

The City of Benson lost a few email accounts. That may or may not create economic losses and probably just creates a large inconvenience. But what about business data? You can’t make money when your systems are down, yet according to recent statistics, businesses are just as poorly prepared as this municipality.

The Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council conducts annual surveys to help determine just how well companies are preparing for data disasters. Frankly, this year’s report offered scary results. The State of Global Disaster Recovery Preparedness 2014 says that 73 percent of businesses fail at DR preparedness. This happens even though 36 percent of survey respondents knew better, having experienced a major loss of one or more critical applications or data files for a least a few hours last year. Two-thirds of those failures lasted for days! The highest cost of a failure was more than $5 million, with 20 percent of them costing more than $50,000.

And when you look at the cost of data failure, as much as $5 million or more, why is it so hard to justify the man hours and hardware costs to create an effective DR plan backup system? It’s as though no one is steering the ship.

No One at the Helm

And by the look of the numbers, that’s exactly the problem. Only 1 in 10 companies have an employee dedicated to the role of DR and business continuity. Many add the responsibility to other job roles, mostly in the IT department, and a quarter of businesses don’t even have a DR budget, much less anyone in charge.

I’d like to say it’s not all that bad, but it really is. Even companies with DR plans in place often find they don’t help much when a disaster actually strikes. Some don’t test their plans at all, and most find their plans fail when they finally get around to testing them. It’s an absolute mess.

A Small Budget Is No Excuse

At this point, the City of Benson is still without a backup system and running on dangerously outdated servers. Riker’s relationship with the City has been terminated and no one was hired to replace him. But even with the City’s very small budget and limited IT help, easy and affordable solutions are available.

Ready.gov and the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council (DRBenchmark.org) have free tools for establishing a DR plan. Regular plan testing can be incorporated into regular safety events, such as practice fire drills. Although it’s best to have a dedicated team on such an important task, some just don’t have that budget. These tools ensure that anyone can afford to have a DR plan that works in place.

Affordable Hardware

As far as the hardware, a Quorum onQ is reasonably priced and very easy to set up. You just hook it up and turn it on. You assign an IP address and subnet mask. Once you’re online, you download and install the agent on each server. That’s it. If you use the hybrid solution, there’s just one more step, and that’s to ship a seed NAV to us via UPS.

Why, when a backup solution is affordable and so easy to set up, don’t more businesses at least get this one part of disaster preparedness right? Maybe they just don’t realize that the cost of data failure is vastly more expensive than the cost of a backup.

Every business has unique needs, so you may find yourself pleasantly surprised at how affordable a Quorum backup recovery system really is. Request a quote through our online form to see for yourself.

 

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