Although many businesses are safe from the wrath of tropical hurricanes, the disaster recovery lessons still apply. Natural disasters are inevitable — whether it’s a hurricane, fire or earthquake. Without an IT disaster recovery plan and frequent offsite backups in place, your data is a risk. Companies value data as much as traditional financial assets, according to the Gartner report “2017 CEO Survey: CIOs Must Scale Up Digital Business.” But once a server goes under water or up in flames, there’s no turning back. Armed with a comprehensive IT disaster recovery plan, your business can run no matter what.
Rethink Your IT Disaster Recovery Plan
Hurricanes cause flooding that can destroy server racks, computers and other equipment on ground levels, but fires and earthquakes wipe out anything in their path. Whether you’re a small business or have hundreds of employees, the goals of your IT disaster recovery plan should be the same:
- Prevent downtime and shorten the time to recovery
- Strengthen data integrity and reduce data loss
- Fortify infrastructure and data security
The 2017 hurricane season proved that storms are unpredictable and will only worsen in the future. Here are some lessons to protect your business from the nasty effects of natural disasters:
Invest in Cloud Backups Now
Backups are the first step to becoming disaster-prone. But you can’t wait until disaster strikes to think about backups. You need to make sure your backup system backup is in place and functioning properly. If you only store backups locally, there’s no security during a natural disaster. Cloud data centers store data in geographically disparate regions and are a cost-effective approach to disaster recovery and business continuity. Having multiple copies of your data in different locations reduces the risk of unpredictable weather. Storing data is only one component of cloud backups. You also need to protect your data across all locations, especially if you adhere to compliance regulations like HIPPA.
Classify and Categorize Your Assets
Not all data is created equal. To optimize your backup strategy and costs, categorize assets based on how critical they are for the business to run. For instance, your financial data should be high priority while non-critical data could be assigned as low. Cloud-based services can also help you meet availability requirements for each type of data, so you aren’t overpaying for storing non-critical data.
Document and Disseminate Your Disaster Recovery Plan
Personnel changes, and people take vacation. So you must be prepared for your response team to not be present when you need them. To cover your bases, document your disaster recovery plan and procedures for business-critical recovery and back them up in the cloud so any employee can quickly get back to work. Your disaster recovery plan should also outline:
- How to restore hardware and other services
- Estimated time to recovery for each phase
- Which data is critical to operations
Work Across Departments to Achieve Resiliency
Resiliency is arguably more important than disaster recovery, and resiliency and redundancy go hand-in-hand. You need redundant IT resources to ensure information is available when a natural disaster strikes. To build resilience, you must know your cost of downtime (including opportunity costs). Collaborating across teams to create resiliency plans will help keep departments running. Every team should know the most critical functions to restore first if an outage occurs. Understanding the business objectives of each technology will also help you build resiliency. Your critical technologies should have failover and replication processes baked in so this information is readily available.
Find a Secondary Power Source
Your business has no control over power grids, and restoring power can take weeks after a devastating natural disaster. You can’t wait to restore operations. To continue business as usual, consider alternate power sources so you can quickly get power back during a disaster.
Test Your Restores
Backups are important, but restores are everything. It doesn’t matter if you’ve properly backed up every piece of data. If you can’t recover it after an outage or disaster, all that work has gone to waste. Test your restore process monthly (at a minimum), and take note of what worked and what didn’t. During future tests, make adjustments to improve the weak areas. Earthquakes and fires give little warning, so put processes in place today today to make sure your DR plan is ready when disaster strikes. Disaster recovery and business continuity are like insurance policies. But failing to invest in these areas puts your entire business at risk. At SugarShot, we help businesses design and implement custom backup and disaster recovery plans. Often, they haven’t invested in business continuity because they’re strapped for resources or believe it’s too costly. But implementing disaster recovery and managed backups doesn’t have to derail your profitability. SugarShot designs scalable backup and disaster recovery solutions for businesses of all sizes. By optimizing backup and storage costs, we help clients save while disaster-proofing their business. Don’t wait for disaster to strike to create your IT disaster recovery plan. Contact us today to get the help your business needs.