How To Prepare Your Business For Disaster And Recovery

When a disaster hits, the most important thing at the time is getting through it safely. Once the disaster blows over (either figuratively or literally!), then the biggest priority is making sure everyone’s okay, followed by assessing the damage. But once it’s clear that everyone made it through the crisis and you have a good idea of just how much damage has been done, there comes a crucial step that will determine just how fast and how completely you’ll bounce back, and that’s implementing what recovery measures you have in place.

Insurance isn’t enough, by the way. Sure, it will cover property damage to one extent or another, depending on the policy, but no plan will cover your loss of valuable data, or all of those customers who wander off because your company can’t fulfill their needs. Besides, have you ever had to sit around waiting for a claim to be paid? You need a plan, and you need it now.

How To Prepare Your Business For Disaster And Recovery

Create a disaster recovery plan, write it down, share it with your co-workers, and hope you never have to use it.

It’s easy, when the sun is out and life is going well, to think that a disaster will happen to someone else, not to your business, your property, or yourself personally. But things can turn on a dime, and that feeling that all’s right with the world can vanish just as fast it as came. That’s why it’s prudent to be prepared for disaster recovery before you actually need it. Here’s how you can put together a contingency that hopefully you’ll never need to use!

Come Up With A Plan, Define Its Parameters

Gather together appropriate representatives and managers from all of your company’s critical departments: management, IT, security, building management, records, whatever else, and outline what elements of your business are the most vulnerable and consequently require the most protection.

The plan needs to be documented and shared with everyone involved, so that there’s no weak link or personnel out of the loop. Everyone needs to be on board and kept up to date, including contact information, and designated areas of responsibility when trouble hits. This means training employees on what their specific roles are in the event of a disaster.

Backup, Backup, Backup!

Did we happen to mention that you should have backups of all of your data? Your hardware can be replaced; your building can be repaired, but if you lose all of that precious company data, financial figures, customer accounts, contacts, personnel files, then your business is crippled. Recovery back to the point you were at before the disaster will be difficult if not impossible.

You need to follow the Backup Rule of Three. Make three copies of data that you deem important (and feel free to be generous in your definition of important!); use two different formats (e.g. flash drive and hard disk), and have one offsite backup. After all, if your building burned down, it wouldn’t matter if you had your data stored on two different media if both were located within that pile of ashes that used to be your business.

This is why it’s absolutely crucial that one copy of your data be located off-site. Maybe it’s cloud backup storage (BackBox, SkyDrive, or DropBox, for instance), or maybe it’s physically stored elsewhere. Whatever your choice, don’t put all of your data in one vulnerable basket that could be washed away by a sudden flash flood, or blown away by a tornado.

Recovery Protocol

The advantage of cloud-based backup is that it’s easily accessible, making recovery simpler. As long as you have access to hardware, you can bring back the data in no time. But whichever medium you use, the final thing to take into consideration is implementing the plan as fast as possible and resume normal business operations. This means deciding what order things will be restored; setting priorities and acting on them.

Recovery need not be limited to abstract things like data. It’s also wise to have an idea of how the physical location will be made usable again, and that includes mundane things like clean up, salvage, and restoration of utilities.

One More Time: Plan!

No doubt you’ve heard the cliché about people who didn’t succeed didn’t plan to fail, they failed to plan. That cliché holds a lot of truth, especially in the area of disaster recovery. So, create a plan based on input from your departments, train people in the plan, back up your data to multiple locations, and implement the plan based on a pre-set priority.

You may not be able to control the weather, seismic faults, or which way a wildfire goes, but you sure can take control of your own recovery.

Byline: John Terra has been a freelance writer since 1985. He’s a devout believer in the multiple media backup idea, and always carries a flash drive with him.