The computerization of business and production records in the last decadehas revolutionized farm and agribusiness management. Computerization has allowed the integration and analysis of complex records with the aim of improving profitability.
Previously, farm business and production records were not much more than a history lesson of what had taken place. Computerization now allows the farm business to attempt to model or forecast future performance. Recordkeeping and the analysis of farm records now drive entire industries.
Consider, for example, how important farm records have become to the ag lending industry. Distribution of operating and capital loans requires excellent records pointing to promising business practices and a strong likelihood of repayment. Computerized production records now help you to assess the impact of ongoing and previous management practices on plant and animal production, potentially pointing toward new options and management strategies.
The problem in relying on computerized records is what happens if all that data collected and stored on the office or home computer is destroyed or lost?
It is difficult to estimate the value of the business and production records. But the impact of data loss is well documented. Seventy percent of small firms that experience a major data loss go out of business within a year. The imaginable causes for the unintended destruction of farm and business records are somewhat obvious.
Fire or natural disasters like flooding or tornados have the potential to completely obliterate these records leaving no way to retrieve them. Yes, the probability for such an event is not large, yet it should be ignored completely (note the impact of weather related disaster on rural areas throughout the U.S. this past year).
Data loss is more common than most people usually think. Here are some statistics on computer data loss:
- 32 percent of data loss is caused by human error.
- 31 percent of PC users have lost all of their PC files to events beyond their control.
- 25 percent of lost data is due to the failure of a portable drive.
- 44 percent of data loss caused by mechanical failures.
- 1 in 5 computers suffer a fatal hard drive crash during their lifetime.
The loss of farm business records can also occur when there is a malfunction or failure within the computer hard drive or other digital storage rendering the data in it un-retrievable.
Computer industry sponsored research suggests that 70 percent of hard drive failures will be severe enough that data retrieval is not advisable. And in those cases where data is retrievable, the cost can be significant.