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Symantec sounds alarm on SMB disaster recovery

Symantec Corp. says the results of a recent worldwide survey of 1,653 small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and those who do business with them show a gap between how these companies perceive their disaster recovery plans and how prepared for disaster they actually are.

The survey began by asking SMBs (which represented 70 percent of the respondents, with “small” companies defined as 10 to 99 employees and midsize as 100 to 499 employees) how confident they were in their ability to respond to a disaster. According to the survey results, around 82% are somewhat or very satisfied with their DR plan, 84% believe they are “very” or “somewhat” protected, and one in three responded that they believe customers would evaluate other vendors should they experience an outage.

But when the survey questions drilled down into the details of SMB DR plans, Symantec representatives noticed discrepancies in the responses. While the vast majority began by expressing confidence in their ability to survive a disaster, 47% also said they have no formal DR plan An estimated 60% of company data is backed up in this market, with only one in five respondents backing up daily, and more than half expect they would lose more than 40% of their data in a disaster. More puzzling, while only a third of respondents said they expected their own customers to evaluate competitors in the event of a disaster or outage, 42% said they personally had switched vendors due to “unreliable computing systems” and 63% said it damaged their perception of an SMB vendor.

Pat Hanavan, Symantec’s VP for Backup Exec product management, admitted the answers to the questions about confidence may have been different if asked at the end of the survey rather than at the beginning. “My guess is the survey itself may have been an educational process for some,” he said.

It’s also important to remember how long it has taken enterprises to focus on formalized disaster recovery planning and technology with the benefit of internal expertise dedicated to data protection in most cases. Many SMBs rely on a partner or non-technical employees to keep IT operations running and also operate without the budget of the big guys.

The good news for SMBs starting to consider disaster recovery is that more and more vendors are focused on storage and data protection in their market these days, including a plethora of cloud services designed to host data and/ or standby infrastructure for companies which can’t afford a full secondary data center.

If you’re an SMB working your way through disaster recovery planning, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

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