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It’s World Backup Day on 31 March – and there’s never been a better time for South African businesses to take stock of the way they manage their documents and data.

Data loss is one of the most common causes of business disruption today, and potentially the most costly too. Research conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance in the US found that almost 50 percent of small businesses have experienced a cyber-attack – and as many as 60% of affected businesses shut down within six months of losing their data.

“Small and medium-sized businesses know they can’t afford to lose data, but at least half of the businesses we see aren’t properly prepared for data loss,” says Fred Werner, the sales and marketing director at electronic document solutions provider Doc-it, a partner of managed business services company Itec.

“Losing data can be devastating to a business’s operations, customers, and reputation. It’s essential that backup and disaster recovery plans are made a top priority.”

Many businesses invest in enterprise content management (ECM) platforms, which help them gain better control of their content and information, streamline business processes to increase productivity and efficiencies, and help knowledge workers to make decisions faster.

In fact, ECM is vital for any business that is dealing with large volumes of content that need to be accessible and usable or have regulatory compliance mandates that require greater control over unstructured information.

But it’s no use investing in ECM if you don’t have an effective back-up strategy, says Werner. So, what are the four key questions you should be asking on World Backup Day?

What data do you need to protect?

Trick question says Werner: if you need data to keep your business operational, the answer is ‘everything’. But you want to think about what data is most important, and what you need to access immediately when disaster strikes.

What are your data risks?

Every business has some risk. One of the biggest threats right now is cybercrime: today, it’s not a case of if you will be attacked anymore, but when. But there are other risks too: fully 60% of all breaches come from within, and sometimes hardware and systems simply fail.

What’s the best back-up strategy for you?

Hardware back-ups? Software solutions? Cloud services? A popular option nowadays is a hybrid solution, which combines software and cloud backups to provide multiple options for restoring data. Make sure you choose the system that works best for your particular business.

Do you go in-house, vendor, or managed business services (MBS)?

Especially for smaller businesses, it can be challenging for internal IT teams to manage the required technologies on their own. Growing numbers of local businesses are turning to managed service providers for managed data backups to protect their data, ensure disaster recovery, and maintain business continuity.

“One of the major drivers of MBS adoption in the local market is the growing need for data security and compliance. For many companies, it’s simply easier to outsource these critical workloads to a trusted service provider, freeing them up to focus on their core business,” says Werner.