How to Protect Yourself from Database Threats

No matter what point of sale system you use, it’s safe to say the database inside holds a lot of important information. Inventory, accounts receivable, tax records, purchase orders, sales data, customer info… all this critical data is in one place for you to access. Until it isn’t. Putting safeguards in place to protect yourself from database threats is a must.

Fire

Flood

Theft

Any Natural Disaster

Lots of things can cause your data to take a permanent holiday. A hard drive failure, computer viruses, and voltage spikes are a few of the things that could go wrong inside your computer. Fire, theft, flooding and other natural disasters can also permanently separate you from one of your most valuable assets – your business data.

With so much record-keeping done digitally, could you recreate your data? Do you even have the paper records with the information you would need? How many man-hours would it take to put it back together?

The Simplest Protection from Database Threats

Back up your data. It’s not glamorous, but if something bad happens, having that backup will be the difference between an annoying inconvenience and a full-blown retail disaster.

Creating your own data backup is a simple and inexpensive way to protect yourself from database threats. Managed service providers can automate the process for you for a monthly fee, lifting the burden from you almost entirely. Either way, protecting your data could one day save your business.

A database isn’t a single file stored in a single location. Because of this, many point of sale systems will create a backup file of your database for you. Once the backup file is made, you can copy it to an external hard drive or thumb drive for safe keeping. The backup copy should be kept at home, in a safety deposit box, grandma’s house, or any location outside of your business. If something happens to your building and its contents, your data will be safe.

“A company that experiences a computer outage lasting for more than 10 days will never fully recover financially and 50 percent of companies suffering such a predicament will be out of business within 5 years”.

David M. Smith

Ph.D., Graziadio Business Review

We recommend your database backups be done as part of your closing routine at the end of the business day. Creating the backup file may take some time, so it’s a good idea to start the process early on and grab your backup just before you head for home.

Stories from the Front Lines

Here at Paladin Data Corp. we’ve helped save quite a few businesses that have fallen victim to a variety of database threats. We’ve seen how backups can save the day.

In one instance, a hardware store…

built inside a historic wooden railroad terminal burned to the ground overnight. The insurance carrier was ready to settle for less than $20K which would have barely covered the value of the old building. The store owner was practically despondent because one million dollars in inventory burned along with the building. The insurance adjuster’s response was, “can you prove that?” The store owner turned to Paladin to see if there was anything we could do to help. Fortunately, our technicians had a six-month-old copy of the customer’s data they had used previously to diagnose a problem.

Once the backup was restored, the store owner had the information he needed to back up his claim. In the end, the insurance company agreed to compensate him for almost all his lost inventory.

In another example, a pharmacy…

lost all their data when the hard drive on their single point of sale terminal committed suicide. The owner hadn’t backed up the database for some time. The most recent backup he found was 15 months old.

We shipped the customer a new computer overnight and restored his database from the old backup. He resumed helping customers within 48 hours. His old dead hard drive was sent to a company that specializes in data recovery. The hope was that any data salvaged from the old drive could be added to data on the new computer so all records would be up to date.

Eventually, all the data was put back together. Unfortunately, the customer had to spend over a thousand dollars on data recovery plus pay to have Paladin technicians combine the old data with the new. A successful outcome, but almost all the hassle and expense could have been avoided if the backup had been up-to-date.

Wait, I Thought YOU Were Doing It!

Are you under the impression that the company that supplied your point of sale system is taking steps to protect you from database threats? You had better know for certain. Consult your point of sale supplier. Find out the level of responsibility they are taking with your data.

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How often is your data backed up?

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Where is your data stored?

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How does the recovery process work?

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Can you access the data if you need it?

If you’re not happy with the answers you get, it’s time to take matters into your own hands and look elsewhere for a reliable backup solution to protect you from database threats.

An Off-site Solution

If the idea of doing a daily backup has no appeal, cloud backup services can copy your data to an off-site server. These servers are usually monitored constantly to alert technicians to any potential problem. Once your data backup is complete, it will be copied onto a second server for added safety.

A downside to this solution is that moving large amounts of data from your computer to the cloud can slow your network down considerably. To keep the transfer from impacting your business, the process can often be scheduled to take place at night, outside normal business hours, or anytime you are likely to be away from your computer.

You may be able to find a service that can make an incremental backup of your data. An incremental backup transfers only the data that was changed since the last backup. It adds this new data to the current backup so it will mirror the data on your system. An incremental backup dramatically decreases the amount of data being transferred and takes far less time to complete than a full backup. This is a convenient and way to protect yourself from a host of database threats.

An Extra Measure of Caution

Let’s say you’ve purchase a service to have your data backed up to an off-site server (aka, the cloud). Don’t rest on your laurels. Cloud backup failure and outages can and do happen. Don’t take a chance that your cloud-based backup won’t be available when you need it. With a copy in the cloud, it may not be necessary to back up your data every day. However, grabbing a copy of your database once a month would be a good idea. Keep those monthly backups in a safe place, away from your store, to create an archive of your point of sale data. The archive might come in handy if you are faced with an audit or need quick access to some 4-year-old sales tax record, customer info, or other financial data.

“Approximately 40-60 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors after a disaster.” U.S. Small Business Administration

Cited by Property & Casualty

Play It Safe

Once the data backup process becomes a regular part of your closing routine, it will become a habit like turning off the lights and locking your doors before you leave. Even if you’ve purchased an automatic backup service as your primary protection, a monthly manual backup of your data should be done.

By managing your own backups you’ll be in a better position to rebuild your business if something terrible happens.

George Maginnis

Author