Have you ever thought about how your practice would survive after a disaster? What would happen if your office burned down, or burglars broke in and stole all your computers? Natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, and tornados also pose a threat.

Many businesses fail after disasters because they do not plan ahead. Offsite backups are one of the easiest and best ways to protect your practice. If you still use paper charts, you face an even greater risk. Keeping an updated offsite copy of all your paper charts would be prohibitively expensive.

If you use an EMR, be sure to ask your vendor how they handle offsite backups. If you have a web-based EMR, it’s possible that your data is already stored offsite. In that case, be sure to verify they back up your data. If you have a client/server model or a custom system, you may be responsible for your own backups.

There are many companies that offer hosted offsite backup solutions. Their software runs in the background on your computer and uploads files to a remote server, usually in real time. This kind of service is generally easy to use, and great for when you only need to recover a few files at a time.

There are two main drawbacks to this architecture, however. It is usually subscription based, meaning you pay a monthly fee for the service. The other problem is recovery time. If you lose everything, it can take forever to download all of your data.

Hosted backup solutions can be expensive. They usually charge you by the gigabyte (GB). Our average customer has about 130GB of data, which could cost you as much as $345 per month. That equals $4140 per year, and about $20,700.00 over five years – about the cost of some EMR systems.

The second problem with hosted backups is download time. If you’ve ever downloaded large files from the internet, you know it can be time-consuming. Let’s imagine your practice has about 130 GB of data, which comes out to 133200 megabytes (MB). If you lose everything, and have to download all of your data, you could be out of business for a long time. If you have a fast internet connection, such as Comcast, your download speed could be about 4.82 MB/s. With this speed it could take you about 19 days to download 130 GB of data.

Sadly, there aren’t many alternative solutions, aside from using backup tapes, or external hard drives and taking them home with you every night. The best bet would be to use a custom solution that would allow you to backup offsite to your home, or another office. That way your recovery time would be limited by how long it takes you to drive home and retrieve your storage device.

Regardless of what system you go with, offsite backups are a vital part of your business continuity plan. The survival of your practice could depend on it.

Ryan Ricks
Security Officer