Disaster Recovery Planning: Preparing for a Data Disaster

Say the word “disaster” and powerful images come to mind – tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and the like. But in business, “disaster” can come in a different disguise. Imagine a small fire in the company breakroom that sets off the sprinkler system. Or a vicious bit of malware that gains entrance into company servers. Even a cup of coffee knocked over onto a keyboard can cause significant problems. These might seem like small things, but they are disasters all the same. If your business isn’t prepared with a disaster recovery plan, you could be OUT of business in the near future.

Disaster Recovery Planning

Where Disaster Comes From

Believe it or not, the two biggest sources of disaster are hardware failure and human error. Together these twin terrors account for nearly 70% of data loss.

In fact, data disaster most often will take the form of:

  • Hardware failure
  • Human error
  • Software corruption
  • Computer viruses
  • Equipment theft
  • Hardware destruction

And yet, most companies are content to build their DR/BC (Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity) plan for the “someday” of a natural disaster, which is statistically less likely to occur.

How much does downtime cost?

Depending on the severity of the disaster, the length of your outage, and the industry you are in, the cost of downtime due to an unplanned outage can range from $1000 to more than $17,000 per minute.

Why so expensive? Consider how you will do business without customer data, software applications, business files, or critical business information like financial data. Loss of staff productivity in this scenario can add expense to downtime, as well.

To add insult to injury, if your company suffers a catastrophic loss of data, it might signal the end of your business. More than half of businesses that experience a data disaster close their doors within six months.

You Don’t Need It Until You Need It

It might seem silly to plan for something that may never happen, but having a disaster recovery plan can be the difference between business and bankruptcy. Working with a Managed Service Provider can help you to prioritize your data and processes and establish protocols for getting back to business as quickly as possible.

Understand that there are two types of recovery – the painstaking and often incomplete process of piecing your data and equipment back together, and the easier path of virtualization, backups, and restores. Even if you have damaged equipment, having a disaster recovery plan in place allows you to use your data on replacement machines.

Disaster Recovery Planning

As part of a business continuity plan, a disaster recovery plan outlines the steps to take to get your business back up and running again.

Ask yourself these questions:
Is your data in a safe, secure data center?
Can you access that data quickly in the event of a disaster?
What is your data backup schedule?
How often do you test your backup protocols?
Are backups performed manually or automatically?
Do you encrypt your data?
Does your data encryption meet standards established by your industry?
Do you have a protocol of employee responsibilities established?
Have you trained your employees to take action in the event of a disaster?

The answers you give to these questions will give you a good idea of just how thorough your disaster recovery plan is, and where it might need some work. Remember, preparation is key, no matter what form disaster might take. Addressing areas of your plan that might be lacking gives you the chance to strengthen them before the need arises.

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

Disaster recovery planning is only a portion of the larger picture called Business Continuity. It’s not advisable – I’m not sure it’s even possible – to have one without the other.

Consider all the hard work you’ve put into your business. Does it make sense to leave it vulnerable by not having a disaster recovery plan in place? If you’re only preparing for a “big” disaster like a tornado or earthquake, you’re essentially unprepared. It’s far more likely that you’ll experience a server failure or one of your employees will click on a link containing malware.

Don’t let a setback turn into the end of your business. Disaster recovery planning gives your business a clear path through a data disaster. If you’re not sure how well-prepared your business is for a disaster of any size, contact us. We can help you to protect your business from disasters large and small.