One of the consequences of today’s 24/7, interconnected environment is that businesses are more dependent than ever on their digital assets to keep them running. These days it’s not just traditional data-intensive industries such as financial services that rely on this information for mission-critical activities, but every company.

With technologies such as faster connectivity, advanced mobile devices and cloud computing solutions all offering quicker and easier access to information at all times, enterprises need to make changes in order to cope. Recent figures from Gartner reveal mobile data traffic alone is set to reach 52 million terabytes this year – an increase of 59 per cent from 2014 – and this is before more traditional forms of traffic are taken into account.

However, while these innovations offer a wide range of benefits to businesses and consumers alike, this dependence does bring with it risks. And no matter how conscientious your firm is when it comes to backups, the danger of data loss is very real – and could be more damaging than ever before.

The consequences of a disaster

There could be several reasons why a business may suddenly find itself facing a catastrophic loss of data. For instance, a hardware failure or power outage is one of the most common causes of information being wiped. Meanwhile, companies also have to think about the consequences of human error or natural disasters, and the risk of cyber attacks are a growing problem.

The immediate result of the loss of critical information will be downtime for your company. If you can’t access key documents or data, key activities will grind to a halt – and for every minute your staff are left unable to do their jobs, you can watch revenue draining away.

However, short-term impacts, while dramatic, are often just the start of a firm’s problems. One of the biggest issues many enterprises struggle with in the wake of data loss incidents is the lack of trust this causes in customers, particularly if sensitive personal data is involved. This can be very difficult to win back, and the reputational damage can persist for months or even years to come.

Expecting the worst

The best way to prevent this from happening to your business is to have a clear plan in place for all eventualities. Whether or not you think a certain problem is likely, knowing how to respond will save you valuable time later on, so it pays to be proactive when it comes to risk assessments and take an attitude where you expect a worst-case scenario.

A good disaster recovery plan essentially comes in two halves. The first is having effective backups in place for all your mission critical data, and the second is a recovery plan that enables you to keep downtime to a minimum.

With this in mind, there are two questions that need to be answered – how much data do I need to back up? And, how quickly will I need to recover? This will vary from company to company so, for instance some firms may be able to make do with backups from the end of the last working day, while others need hourly or even up-to-the-minute data available. To make the most cost-effective decision for your firm, the answers to these questions will require close attention.

The technology you need

Once you know what your requirements for backup and disaster recovery capabilities are, the next step is to make sure you have the right tools for the job. In years gone by, many companies may have resorted to tape backups that collected information at the end of the day and were then stored offsite. But this can be a costly and inefficient way of doing things, and in today’s environment, there are much better options available.

Cloud computing technology can take much of the hassle out of backup and disaster recovery activities. Tools such as Microsoft Azure, for example, offer a range of solutions for backing up and protecting key servers.

The solution is particularly useful for large enterprises that manage sprawling, geographically diverse operations. For example, one company benefiting from Microsoft Azure’s technology is United Airlines. It uses the latest version of Hyper-V Replica to deliver a high degree of flexibility, with variable replication frequency from 30 seconds up to 15 minutes, and support for extended replication to a third site. As it is delivered as a cloud service running in the Microsoft Azure environment, it answers the airline’s need for a highly available disaster recovery solution.

Find out more about Microsoft Azure Site Recovery