Hardware, Software Failures Leading Cause of SMB Downtime

The best defense against downtime is installing a disaster recovery solution that ensures the business is operational in minutes.

Hardware failures alone comprise more than one-half of disasters for small and midsize businesses (SMBs), according to backup and recovery specialist Quorum’s Disaster Recovery Report.

The Q1 2013 report details findings on the most common solutions that enable instant recovery of data, applications and systems and could be critical to avoiding costly downtime.

Culled from Quorum's global customer base, the findings indicated that the best defense against downtime is installing a disaster recovery solution that ensures the business is operational in minutes, rather than days, as well as performing regular system testing for added peace of mind.

"In the case of hardware failure, most people have faith that their system will failover, saving them from system downtime. Unfortunately, this is not always the case," California Bankers Association IT manager Randy Mateo said in a statement. "Recovery after hardware failures can take especially long, so it's particularly important to deploy a disaster recovery solution that gets employees working again in minutes, rather than days."

The survey found storage area network (SAN) failures were also a common issue for small businesses, and that 22 percent of disasters were caused by human error. Software failures ranked third at 18 percent, with malware and viruses contributing to the problem. A similar report by Symantec found in the first half of 2012, 36 percent of targeted attacks were aimed at small businesses.

"The goal of the Quorum Disaster Recovery Report is to underscore the notion that, while devastating, downtime cause by a tornado or earthquake is much less likely to occur than by something like a less-spectacular hardware failure," Quorum CEO Larry Lang said in a statement. "With this in mind, small to mid-sized businesses must prepare for the worst with the best — a disaster recovery solution that enables instant recovery and allows for on-demand and automatic testing."

Given it takes an average of 30 hours for recovery (according to IT managers), SMBs are at risk of losing customers, their reputation and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue, the report warned. Small businesses are advised to employ hybrid solutions when backing up data, such as a cloud-based model that creates a virtual duplicate of the data and can transparently take over for failed servers within minutes.

"Regular testing plays a key role as well. IT professionals often avoid regular testing due to the complexities associated with the process, and the inordinate amount of time it takes," the report concluded. "Therefore, it is imperative to deploy a system that enables automatic testing to shore up confidence that the solution will work as expected in an actual disaster."