No business, no matter how tech-savvy, is exempt from the possibility of downtime. Consider the latest Amazon Prime Day debacle, where the e-tail giant’s site crashed for hours during its most anticipated shopping promotion of the year.
If it can happen to one of the leading tech solutions providers, it can happen to you. The trick is to overcome disaster in a reasonable time frame without massive data loss. Disasters are inevitable, but how quickly and completely you recover can dramatically impact your business.
Disaster recovery for the modern business
Historically, disaster recovery could take days, sometimes weeks. In fact, after a big enough data disaster, many businesses never recover. Closing your doors to handle the problem is one thing, but did you know that 25 percent of businesses that do close their doors never reopen them?
Floods, hurricanes, fires, and dozens of other physical issues can shut down your business temporarily, but they don’t have to be long term. With the right disaster recovery plan in place, you could be back in business within hours. Here are a few things to keep in mind when putting together your disaster recovery plan.
1. Fast recovery depends on complete backups
While backup and recovery are not synonymous, any good disaster recovery plan starts with data backups. When your systems go down, you need a clean copy of the data to get things rolling again. That means making sure you have complete backup systems in place that regularly record changes.
If you have a large transaction volume, you may need a complete backup every day. However, if your business moves at a slower pace, weekly backups with regular updates might be a reasonable solution. Just make sure your backups have everything you need to preserve your operations.
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2. Location, location, location
Onsite backups might offer a super fast recovery, but only if your physical site isn’t affected by the disaster. If you have an office flooding or a fire, you may not be able to reach your backups or they could be damaged. Don’t depend on hard copies stored at or near your location. Virtualization and cloud computing options make it easier than ever to ensure that your data is safe, protected, and nowhere near the disaster area.
3. Analyze possible threats
Before you can prepare a disaster recovery plan that covers all your bases, you need to know what the possible problems are. You could face a natural disaster, or you could experience cyber attacks on your business or technology partners. All can impact your operations, and you need to know what to do in each scenario. Plan for all possible threats, so when something does happen, you are ready to act.
4. Prep your people
It’s great to have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place, but it won’t do much good if you only focus on the tech aspects. Your employees need to know the expectations for when a problem arises. The last thing you want is your IT staff tripping over sales staff as hundreds of support tickets pour in. By looping all staff into disaster recovery efforts, you can avoid confusion and get everyone working toward an eventual solution.
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5. Run your fire drills
Planning is great. It helps you anticipate problems and practice for the worst case scenario. Unfortunately, if you plan without actually testing your disaster recovery, you won’t know if it works. What if there is a software conflict between your backup software and one of your legacy systems? What if you have corrupted files on your most recent backup run? Running practice drills can expose potential problems before they become disasters in their own right. Test your disaster recovery plan the same way you test your fire suppression systems, regularly and with the intent to improve.
6. Update your plan
Technology changes at light speed. You might add a new mobile app or switch to a new cloud provider. You could even add your first AI to handle customer service. Regardless of the new technologies improving your day-to-day efficiencies, you need disaster recovery planning that covers even your most cutting-edge tech. Make sure to regularly assess your disaster planning to take new technologies into account, and schedule a “fire drill” shortly after any changes.
7. Target a workable uptime
With any data disaster, downtime is a critical factor that affects your business. When it comes to disaster recovery planning, you need to understand how much downtime your business can reasonably handle. In other words, at what point will your business lose too much? This is something you need to know, so you can effectively create a strategy for recovery.
There is no such thing as a perfect disaster recovery plan, but you can do your best to mitigate potential damage. Don’t go without a disaster recovery plan; don’t forget about everyday data disasters, and don’t lose your data unnecessarily. Instead, plan for the worst, hope for the best, and be ready for anything in between with a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy.
Want to keep reading? Check out 6 real-world examples of internal data breaches.