Creating A Data Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Small Business
Dan Levenson November 03, 2016
The right time to decide what you’ll do about a data disaster is before it happens. Once it occurs, if you don’t have a data recovery plan in place, it’s too late. Your business will most likely fail.
If you’ve prepared for trouble, though, your organization has a good chance of survival.
Fires, natural disasters, and crime can wreak serious damage on a business’s computers, including its on-site backups. Insurance may cover the hardware, but no amount of money can replace data that’s permanently lost. Without critical customer and employee records, there might be no way to continue.
A disaster recovery plan will cover everything necessary to surviving a data catastrophe. It will let you determine what you’ll have to recover, how to do it, and who will do it.
The first step is to identify all your critical data assets. What systems do you have that carry out essential processes and hold necessary data? Be sure to include any machines that might sit half-forgotten, yet play an essential role.
Do you have any systems that are so old, they’ll be hard to replace? If you’re stuck with an ancient system that you can’t easily replace, be sure to export its data regularly to a more usable archive format. That way, other software will be able to pick it up, even if it takes some work.
Having backups is important, but if a disaster ruins your entire network, a local backup isn’t enough. The backup drive is likely to suffer as much damage as the original. You need to keep a copy of all your essential data in a remote location. Cloud backup is a safe and economical way to do this.
Choose a reliable service that will still be around when you need it. A well-established, reputable cloud service with redundant locations gives you the highest level of safety.
The backup process and storage both need to be secure. You’re sending all your files over the Internet, and it’s important—often legally required—to make sure no one can intercept and read them. The backup has to transfer and store all data in a strongly encrypted form.
Recovery in case of a disaster is more complicated than normal restoration from a backup. You might not have the original machine. Your recovery plan needs to include the information necessary to rebuild your systems, not just the data files on them.
This information includes full descriptions of the computers, their operating systems, the network configuration, and the software. You should have all the information necessary to acquire replacement hardware, configure the machines to match the originals, and install the necessary software.
You need to be sure all the information necessary to restore your data will be available in spite of a disaster. The passwords or keys required to start the restoration process need to survive whatever happens. If the only copy of a critical key is in the office, it might burn up along with the computers. Keep this information in a safely locked box off the premises.
Preparation is the key. The recovery plan should specify who is responsible, how to reach them, and who can back them up. If the disaster affects the whole area, some employees might not be reachable right away. Recovery shouldn’t depend critically on any one person’s availability.
Everyone with a role in the recovery process should be familiar with the plan and know what actions to take. The plan should get an annual review, to make sure that it takes any changes to the network into account.
Disaster drills will help to make sure people understand the plan and are able to carry out their roles. Simulating a disaster and seeing how people respond to it will uncover any defects in the plan or in people’s understanding of it. It’s better to discover the problems before a disaster happens than after.
It’s important to have an idea how long recovery will take. It will take time to acquire new computers, set them up, and restore the backup files to them. The business needs to last long enough to accomplish this, and it needs to let customers and other stakeholders know how long this will be. Failover machines on a cloud service allow the quickest recovery.
A disaster recovery plan can make the difference between continuing in business and having to shut down. If no disaster ever happens, it still gives you the increased peace of mind from knowing that you would be able to deal with one.
With a solid insurance policy and a good disaster recovery plan, you’re ready to face whatever the future brings. Please contact us for a quote.