While your current customers might already have good data hygiene habits, the reality is most SMBs do not. As you continue to grow your managed services business, chances are you’ll soon run into some customers with poor data hygiene habits—if you haven’t already.

A recent study conducted by Barracuda Networks discovered that nearly 66 percent of Office 365 users are relying on their recycle bin for backup. (Yes, you read that right.) While small mom-and-pop shops might be able to get away with this for a while, industries are becoming more regulated, and relying on a recycle bin to recover business-critical emails, just won’t cut it. Bringing on customers with bad habits like this without fully evaluating their IT environment could put your MSP in a tight spot.

Problems with poor data hygiene

As you bring on new customers, it’s important to fully assess their IT environment and where data loss pitfalls may occur. This can help save you time, aggravation, and money—after all, the more time you spend on an account, the less profit you make.

This is especially important to consider when bringing on customers that want to handle their own backups. While some SMBs may want to opt out of your managed backup, often they’ll still look to you to recover lost data, regardless of if you manage the solution or not. On top of that, if the data cannot be recovered, you’ll end up being the first to be blamed.  

Data loss is bound to happen. The question is just when it will happen and how bad it will be. With today’s emerging cyber threats, there’s no guarantee that you can keep customers’ data from being compromised—even if they have all the right systems and solutions in place. After all, human error is always a factor. However, when customers opt out of managed backup, it can leave them with no other option than to pay the ransom if they fall victim to a ransomware attack, for example.

Even customers who think they have a good backup solution could be vulnerable if they aren’t testing their backups and restores regularly. A full 81.2 percent of respondents to the Barracuda survey do not test their data protection strategies more than once a year, and half of that number don’t test it at all. This creates a recipe for a data loss disaster, setting people up to find out there’s a problem with their backups when they need them to work the most.

Questions to expose poor data hygiene

That’s why it’s essential to understand the SMB’s environment so you can protect them as much as possible. Avoid chaos when bringing on new customers by asking these questions to expose poor data hygiene habits and potential back-doors in their systems.

-Does your company or another company monitor your business-critical data?

-How is your data backed up? Do you use tape backup, cloud backup, appliance-based backup, or a hybrid approach?

-How often is your data backed up?

-How often are your backup sets tested?

                -Do you have multiple locations or remote employees?

-What are your procedures for securing these offsite workstations and backing up their data?

-What network privileges do guests have?

-What security solutions do you use?

-When were your systems last updated? Do you have any outdated machines or applications?

-Do you have any employee restrictions on your shared network?

-Do you have a backup plan in place for email and SaaS applications?

While there are more questions you can use to fully understand your customers’ environment, these questions will help you get a better picture of what your MSP is getting into before you take on a new customer and what kind of infrastructure and budget restrictions they may be working with. For example, it’s quite possible to run into an SMB customer running on outdated systems, looking to hire your MSP, but with no additional budget to move off the legacy system—and these are some major red flags that could cause mayhem for your MSP down the road.

Photo Credit:  Panchenko Vladimir / Shutterstock

Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is an Editorial Associate at Barracuda MSP. In this position, she creates and develops content that helps managed service providers grow their business. She also regularly writes The MSP’s Bookshelf and our Ask an MSP Expert column.

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