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I don’t think that many of you need convincing that a good backup system is essential in protecting your business. I am sure that around 90% of you answered “of course” or “sure” to my question in the headline. In other posts, I have talked about viruses and the nasty things they can do to your computers and/or your computer files. As a reminder viruses are on the rise and they getting more malicious and expensive to recover from.

But as serious viruses are, viruses only account for about 10% of all data losses (but growing).Human error and hardware malfunctions account for more than 70% all data losses.

You need to keep in mind that 100 percent of computers will fail 100% of the time. More than 40% of computer users have irreplaceable data losses each year.

Therefore, you have a quite high probability of needing a backup this year to recover your files.

What is it that causes us to need backups? Here are a few examples:

● A company I am familiar with had a tape backup system. The tapes were changed every day and archived so that there was at least six months of backups available.

There was a hard drive failure, and when the person in charge loaded the contents of the latest tape, files were missing.

A second tape was tried — same deal. To their horror, they found that somewhere along the line some data was corrupted and the corrupted data was backed up. The data from the needed days were missing — they had been written over.

● Another company I know had a very good backup system. When the company encountered a major problem with some of the accounting files, a new IT guy immediately loaded the backup file. He did not check the file first and loaded a blank backup over all of the accounting data. A malfunction some weeks earlier had wiped out the backup data and he did not know it.

Result? About four months of manual reloading the accounting files at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars.

● A guy’s wife gave him a new laptop for Christmas. After about six months, one of the hinges worked itself loose.

As she had purchased the top warranty offered by the seller, they took it to the designated repair center. When they got it back, the hard drive was blank.The repair center had fixed the hinge but also determined that the symptomless hard drive was bad so they replaced it. All the files and data were lost. In the warranty, the company had a “not responsible” clause for lost data.

● There was an interview on TV with a hotel owner in New England whose establishment was flooded by the Hurricane Irene. He lost all his reservations — think: booked weddings — and all his business files.

He had this to think about while mucking out his hotel.

So how confidant are you now that you have complete backups that you can reload after a data loss? Here are some simple ways to backup critical files for small businesses:

● Keep your installation disks in a safe place.

● Back up your files on a portable hard drive and take them off-site. Inexpensive software can help with this.

● If you have small files, put them on a flash drive and take them home each night. This is a very inexpensive solution when 6- gigabyte drives cost around $10.

● Find a local IT company that provides online daily backups. This, too, is inexpensive as they have very large storage capacity and only backup the data that has changed — incremental backups.

● Find a cloud service. You will likely find it cheaper than you expect, as well.

All of these backup solutions are very inexpensive in comparison to what losing valuable data can do to your business. It is not unusual to find 40 percent or more of the companies experiencing a major data loss going out of business within two to four years.

Think about it this way: Backups are a form of risk management. You need to assess how valuable your data is and how much would it cost to replace it, if you even can. You then decide how much you need to spend on backups and other forms of redundancy.

Remember, wise old Murphy was right: Anything that can go wrong will do so at the worse possible moment, to cause the maximum damage.