Computer Data Backups And Insurance

September 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by David Keller, CPA, CFE - Also by this author

A client’s family operates large retail stores in Missouri and Illinois similar to a Wal-Mart. One Friday night about 10:00 p.m., the company president and a consultant were reviewing various reports. They were the last to leave except for one individual who was completing the daily backup of the computer data.

At 4:00 a.m. the next morning, the store caught fire and burned completely to the ground. All records were lost; nothing was salvageable. The first thing the owners did was call the individual who was responsible for the tape backup the night before. They asked if the backup was completed the night before and if she had it in her possession. The reply was yes to both questions. Immediately, they picked up the tapes. They then called their computer and software vendor and made arrangements to fly there to make additional copies of the tapes and print out all reports, such as inventory lists, accounts receivable, checking account activity, accounts payable, general ledger and financial statements.

Without the tapes, they would have had a difficult time convincing their insurance company of the amount of inventory they had in stock at the time of the fire. Instead, they were able to furnish very detailed lists of inventory to the insurance company and, along with the other reports, evaluate what steps to take next. They rebuilt the store and were able to recover from the disaster.

Ask yourself: If your dealership burned to the ground tonight, could you recover? Could you prove to your insurance company the inventory you had on hand? Would you know who owed you money and how much? Would you know what checks you had written and what your payables were?

If not, why? If you are not backing up your computer data daily, taking the backup tapes off-site and maintaining an adequate rotation of tapes, you might never recover from a disaster where you can’t prove your loss. What good is your insurance if you can’t prove your claim?

Storing copies of backup disks, tapes, and hard drives on-site in a fireproof safe won’t help in a fire. The heat will produce moisture and penetrate the fireproof safe and the tapes, disks and hard drives will lose the magnetic coating that stores the data.

Another thought: What would happen if your hard drive crashed and you didn’t have adequate backup copies available to restore? What would it cost you to reconstruct those records? A little known item available is recovery insurance that reimburses you up to your policy limits to reconstruct that important data so you can effectively recover and manage your business. Contact your insurance agent today to check on this important and necessary insurance.

If you don’t have a set of backups for each weekday, one for each month and year end kept off-site, you are inviting disaster.

Recommended minimum backup copies:

· A backup tape for each day of the week that is rotated weekly—such as Monday’s tape that will not be used again until next Monday. Remove these from the premises daily and bring in the next day’s tape daily.

· A month end tape for each month of all the different month end functions in all departments and areas, such as parts inventory, accounts receivables, payroll, general ledger and service. The January tape would not be used again until next January. Keep these in a safety deposit box!

· An annual year end tape to be kept forever in a safety deposit box.

There are also alternative ways to backup some of your month end and other reports.

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