Don’t Let Disaster Get You Down: Disaster Recovery Planning Guide
We’ve all experienced it in school: you’re sitting in class and the alarm goes off. Some classmates panic, others roll their eyes. You’ve been told what to do, so you line up, follow the teacher out to your safe area, and realize there is no fire – this was just a drill.
You may have found these interruptions annoying, but teachers know the importance of being prepared for a disaster. Why should your business be any different?
As a business owner, your client information, sales statistics, and critical digital assets are as precious to you as those students are to their family. If a system fails, it could cost you more than just losing data: you could lose customer loyalty, you could lose profitability, you could lose your company.
Just like those fire drills at school, your business needs to have a plan of action should disaster strike. Whether a single computer gets a virus or your city experiences a serious storm, it is essential for your business to have a Disaster Recovery Plan in place to protect your data and ensure the continuation of your company. So ask yourself, is your company apt to survive a disaster?
APT Disaster Recovery
Every company has its own set of needs and priorities. Combine that with the fact that a disaster can range from one as simple as a blip in power supply to something more catastrophic, and there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” Disaster Recovery Plan. When creating a unique plan for your business, follow the APT approach: Assess, Plan, and Test.
The only thing better than recovery is to prevent disaster in the first place. You can achieve this in the early stages of assessing your business functions and your IT processes and needs. Use your analysis to focus on preventive measures first, then to inform your recovery plan.
Create an outline of your IT infrastructure
- Define what is in your control (i.e. in-office computers)
- Define what is not in your control (i.e. cloud-based services)
- Identify possible points of failure and add redundant fortifications
- Map out which systems are interdependent, and how one going down will affect others
Perform a Business Impact Analysis
- What can you not operate without?
- What are the costs and consequences of downtime? (think financial, legal, operational)
- Use those answers to rank what is essential
Your plan should be custom tailored to your specific needs. There are some guidelines to follow in creating your plan. A plan should take into consideration the wide range of possible circumstances, and reflect that in both simple recovery procedures, up to full-on emergency plans.
Facts and figures for your plan
- List out possible situations: their likelihood and severity
- Define your RPO (Recovery Point Objective) = which data you want to gain back
- Define your RTO (Recovery Time Objective) = how soon you need to get the system back
Redundancy in protection
- Backup data is critical in reducing recovery time
- Have multiple copies of your data stored in multiple locations
- Have an offsite location (if an office is hit by fire or flood, the second location should be far enough away to not be affected by the same event)
Human versus automated functions
- Don’t rely on humans or technology alone: plan for them to work in tandem
- Automated technology removes variables and human error
- Proactively monitors the situation, stopping disaster before it happens
- Take human factors into account
- How will people be notified during a disaster?
- What if people are not reachable during a disaster?
- If a natural disaster is occurring, how will people address the situation if they cannot get to the office due to roads being blocked?
Just like the fire drills back at school, simply knowing the plan isn’t enough. Don’t wait for disaster to hit! Testing your plan in controlled circumstances will allow you to see what works and what areas need improvement. Testing also gives you and your employees practice, which is essential for performing the tasks effectively when a real crisis takes place.
Continuity of Business
- As your business evolves, so should your plan
- After any update, upgrade, installation: check your Disaster Recovery Plan against it
- Be aware of automatic updates: ensure they updated properly
- As business grows, things change. Check your plan to re-categorize as needed
- This prevents you from misallocating resources
- Test often! The world of tech is ever changing, keep your plan up to date
We’re all in this together
Because you consider your data a precious commodity, you should take great measures to protect it. Copeland is here to be your safety officer. We can help you assess your IT needs, and better yet, we can help you create an effective Disaster Recovery Plan. Get in touch with us to learn how we can serve you.
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